While I may have let big cooking projects scare me off in the past, these days pretty much anything goes. And although I really don't need yet another thing to fall in love with, I keep coming back to the idea of trying my hand at home made candy making. Why? Well, just take a look at those Peanut Butter Goodness bars! What would be better than having your hands on those? For me - it would be the thrill of making them myself.
Now candy making is fairly precise, compared to say a stir-fry where anything goes, and my desire to do it along with things like bread baking, pasta making (I'll share that story another day), cake making, and even Project Foodie itself says quite a bit about my personality. So yes, I'm a bit compulsive and I'm also devoted, but when I serve these Peanut Butter Goodness bars, truffles, and perhaps some turtles to my guests as a finale to my annual neighborhood dinner party I will be one happy candy maker - because that's the ultimate goal isn't it? To share the results of your kitchen creations with friends who enjoy them.
But first, I need to tackle candy making. To help me on this path I've chosen "Chocolates and Confections" by Peter P. Greweling. This book is part of the Culinary Institute of America's at Home series (the bread baking book in this series is one of my favorite bread books).
As you might guess, the starting point of the book is not the luscious Peanut Butter Goodness. Instead it is tempering chocolate. I've taking classes on this. It is not the easiest thing to teach and it is something that scares off many. The Chocolates and Confections tempering section (yes it's a section not just a page) walks you through the process, gives you options and is one of the best explanations I've read yet on tempering.
Of course, tempering is a technique you need to practice; Chocolates and Confections follows the tempering section with several recipes that let you do just that. The rest of the book also uses the technique; a trend you'll see repeated throughout the book. That's not to say this is a textbook, it's clearly targeted at the home candy maker. The last chapter combines it all together with recipes like the Peanut Butter Goodness bar that use a variety of techniques - tempering, nougat, and caramel in this case.
Has Chocolates and Confections made me a master candy maker? No, I need to practice a lot more and even then I probably won't be a master, but I will be serving these bars at my party this fall…
Peanut Butter Goodness
From Chocolates and Confections by Peter P. Greweling and the CIA. Wiley, 2009.
MAKES 26 BARS
Peanut butter nougat with caramel and peanuts: The name says it all. This one is for the dedicated peanut fans.
SKILL LEVEL: 3
- 1 Large egg white
- 9 oz (3/4 cup) Light corn syrup, divided
- 1 tbsp Vanilla extract
- 8 oz (1 cup) Granulated sugar
- 4 oz (1/2 cup) Water
- 3 oz (1/4 cup) Molasses
- 1 oz (1/2 cup) Milk powder
- 1 oz (1/4 cup) Confectioners' sugar
- 6 oz (3/4 cup) Peanut butter
- 4 oz (1/2 cup) Water
- 1 lb (2 cups) Granulated sugar
- 1 Vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1 can (14 oz) Sweetened condensed milk
- 12 oz (1 cup) Light corn syrup
- 6 oz (12 tbsp, 1 1/2 sticks) Butter, unsalted, soft
- 1 tsp Salt
- 12 oz (2 cups) Unsalted toasted whole peanuts
Enrobing and Garnishing
- 2 lb (3 cups) Milk chocolate, melted, tempered
- 4 oz (1/4 cup) Chopped unsalted toasted peanuts
1. Lightly brush a 9 × 13-inch baking pan with oil and line with plastic wrap.
2. To make the nougat, combine the egg white with 3 oz/1/4 cup of the corn syrup and the vanilla extract in the bowl of a 5-quart mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Do not begin whipping yet.
3. Combine the granulated sugar, water, the remaining 6 oz/1/2 cup corn syrup, and the molasses in a 2-quart saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil without stirring. Remove the lid and insert a thermometer.
4. When the syrup reaches 233°F, begin whipping the egg white mixture on high speed.
5. Continue cooking the syrup until it reaches 255°F. Remove immediately from the heat and pour the hot syrup into the whipping egg white mixture in a constant stream.
6. Continue whipping for 4 minutes after all the syrup has been added.
7. While the egg white mixture whips, sift together the milk powder and confectioners' sugar.
8. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the milk powder mixture by hand using a rubber spatula.
9. Mix in the peanut butter by hand using a rubber spatula.
10. Spread in the prepared baking pan using an offset palette knife.
11. Combine the water, sugar, vanilla bean, condensed milk, corn syrup, and butter for the caramel in a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
12. Continue stirring while cooking until the batch reaches 245°F. This is a good estimation of the required temperature. When the thermometer reads 240°F, begin testing the caramel using the spoon technique. The cooled piece on the spoon should be firm but not hard when the caramel is properly cooked.
13. Remove from the heat, stir in the salt, and carefully remove the vanilla bean using tongs. Stir in the peanuts. Pour the caramel on top of the nougat.
14. Allow the slab to cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
15. Remove the entire slab from the pan by inverting and pulling the plastic wrap out of the pan.
16. Leave the plastic wrap on the nougat and turn the slab so that the caramel is up. Spread a thin layer of the chocolate for enrobing on the caramel. Allow the chocolate to set.
17. Invert the slab so that the coated caramel is on the bottom. Peel the plastic wrap off the nougat. Trim all edges of the slab and cut the slab down the middle lengthwise. Cut each half slab into 1-inch bars, yielding bars 1 × 4 1/2 inches.
18. Place the bars caramel side down on a screen. Pour the chocolate for enrobing over each piece.
19. Remove from the screen before the chocolate sets. Place on a piece of parchment paper to set.
20. Garnish with fork marks and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Allow the chocolate to set completely.
Keys to Success
- *Stream the hot syrup down the inside edge of the mixing bowl so that it goes into the whites and not on the whip or bowl.
- *Allow the slab to cool completely before cutting. It is fine to leave it covered overnight at room temperature, as long as it is protected from humidity.
- *If the caramel is very soft when cutting, chill slightly to improve ease of cutting.
- *Use an oiled chef's knife for cutting.
- *Be sure to remove the bars from the screen before the chocolate sets or they will be hopelessly stuck to the screen.
About Chocolates and Confections
Chocolates and Confections at Home offers detailed expertise for anyone who wants to make truly amazing homemade confections and candies. The Culinary Institute of America and baking and pastry arts professor Peter Greweling provide recipes and step-by-step techniques that make even the most ambitious treats simple for any home cook.
Available at Amazon.com
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.