02 October 2007
I've been wanting to make a grown up version of peanut butter cups for years now. I pictured it, layers of peanut butter and chocolate mousse, enveloped in a shiny dark glaze, the ultimate Reese's. I even got the requisite molds, actually pieces of piping, for 46 cents at Home Depot (take that, fancy cooking store!) and I went so far as to write up a recipe. But I never seemed to find the right occasion to make them. The recipe is actually meant to make one giant torte, but I wanted to make individual ones, and it is a bit fancy and fiddly to make on just any day.
All of this is really just a very obfuscated way of telling you the big news in our house: we got a puppy! Getting a little 8-week old fuzzy creature is truly a life-altering experience, one that involves kiddie-gates, squeaky toys to trip over, a lot of playing, and saying goodbye to some of your potted plants. And forget spending more than 4 hours away from home.
Now, I've never needed an excuse to bake anything, but I've managed to come up with a very good one. You see, we have lots of friends who want to come by and meet the puppy, and surely (given my reputation) I should have some small sweet on hand to offer them. Yes, a puppy is the perfect excuse to make that peanut butter cup recipe sitting in my folder. Frankly, it was all a ruse, because everyone is too busy playing with the puppy to be at all interested in eating anything. And really, these were so good, we didn't want to offer them to guests, rather we hoarded them, keeping their crackly chocolate crusts and creamy peanut butter centers all to ourselves.
Obviously, these were delicious, don't wait for an excuse (much-less a puppy) but make these now. I love the individual molds, but if I did this again, I'd probably make one big torte because it's a lot easier and will taste the same. But what I really want to emphasize is how easy these are to make, seriously, there is no cooking involved, and the hardest thing you might have to do is whip cream or melt chocolate.
I should note the glaze is the only thing that is slightly complicated, and it is optional if you're making one large torte but I wanted it for the minis. I really love this glaze, it hardens all crackly and with a slightly granular texture reminiscent of fudge, and it stays shiny. You do need a candy thermometer and you do need to use the glaze right away or it will harden: I was trying to take pictures and pour the glaze at the same time (hello, can I get a sous-chef/photographer please?), so some of mine was a bit lumpy and less-than-pretty. However, if you're paying attention, you'll get a perfect hard outer shell that's very professional looking. I think the glaze really brought everything together, but you could also glaze with ganache if you prefer.
You're welcome to come by and play with the puppy; she's very sweet, generally well-behaved, and very well-loved. But don't expect any peanut butter cups, we ate them all, so I can only offer you the recipe to make your own.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Mousse Tarts
Who doesn't love a peanut butter cup? The recipe calls for a total of 3 cups whipped cream, which means you will want to start with 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and whip it to stiff peaks. I find it is easiest to transfer the mousses to the freezer when working with them, so that they firm up quickly, so you may want to clear out some freezer space before starting.
1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (like Nabisco Famous Wafers)
4 tbl melted butter
chocolate mousse layer:
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup milk
3 tbl sugar
2 tbl cocoa powder
1 cup whipped cream
1 splash rum (optional but highly recommended)
peanut butter mousse layer:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
4 oz cream cheese, softened (low fat is fine)
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups whipped cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1. Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 10" springform pan or 8 round molds set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to use.
2. For the chocolate mousse: Finely chop the chocolate and place in a small bowl. Place the milk, sugar, and cocoa in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Heat the milk mixture until simmering, then pour over the chopped chocolate, add the rum. Stir the chocolate mixture gently until everything is melted and combined. Stir the chocolate mixture until it is no longer hot to the touch (but don't wait so long so that the chocolate hardens). Fold in the whipped cream, then refrigerate the mixture.
3. In a bowl, combine cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, salt until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream. Keep in the refrigerator.
4. Spread the chocolate mousse in the bottom of your springform pan, or divide it between the small molds. Top with the peanut butter mousse, gently smoothing the top. Transfer to the freezer to set for at least one hour (I find it is easier to work with the mousses from the freezer, but you can use the refrigerator. Also, if you're making minis, it will be easiest to unmold them if they are completely frozen).
5. Once the edges of the mousse are firmly set, unmold the tart by running a hot knife around the edge of the pan/mold, then remove the sides of the pan/mold. Return the mousse to the freezer while you make the glaze.
6. Make the glaze: place the sugar, water, and chocolate in a small saucepan and clip a candy thermometer on the side. Bring to a boil and let boil until the mixture reaches 234F, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, take your mousse out of the freezer and place on a rack. Remove the glaze from the heat, and give the chocolate glaze one stir just to cool slightly, then pour the glaze immediately over the mousse tarts. You have to work very quickly as the glaze will begin to harden. If it hardens early, it may be less than pretty, but don't worry it will still taste good.
7. Store in the fridge until serving. If you have a large mousse tart, cut slices with a hot knife. The tart may begin to break down after 2 days in the fridge, simply freeze any leftovers and thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
Lighten Up Tip: Instead of 3 cups whipped cream you can use a lightened whipped cream: whip one cup cream to stiff peaks. Whip one egg white with one pinch of sugar until it is shiny and holds stiff peaks, fold the egg white into the whipped cream. Use in the recipe as directed.
The Molds: To make the miniature mousse tarts, it's easiest if you use mini springform pans (2 or 3" diameter). However, they can be expensive, so you can also use ring molds, available at pastry supply stores, or simply use a tube of piping. If using piping, wash it well and line the inside with some parchment paper.