In honor of my baby girl’s birthday, I am pimping out the Reese peanut butter cup by adding a sea salt caramel center surrounded by a creamy peanut butter filling and laying it in a silky chocolate coating. As most of you know, baking is not my thing. You’ll have to imagine how much more uniform these could be if I baked. Still delicious, however!
Make the sea salt caramel filling first. Line the bottom and sides of a loaf pan with foil. Spray with cooking spray. Cube a 1/2 cup butter and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Pour in a 1/2 cup heavy cream. Zap for 1 to 2 minutes until butter is melted. Set aside.
In a small saucepan combine 3 tablespoons water, 1/4 cup corn syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Carefully pour the sugar into the liquid stirring to moisten. Bring to a boil over medium heat then cover and do not disturb for 1 minute. This helps add moisture and stream to the pan melting any sugar that stuck to the side of the pan. Remove the lid and continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the temperature reaches 320°F.
Add the butter and cream mixture one tablespoon at a time stirring between each addition. The butter and cream will cause the mixture to vigorously bubble so go slow to prevent it from boiling over the sides of the pan.
Continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes bringing the temperature back up to 240°F, the color should be a light amber. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes.
Scatter a teaspoon or two of sea salt over the caramel.
Continue cooling the caramel for another 3 1/2 hours. Gently lift the foil out of the pan “unmolding” the caramel. There will extra caramel so I choose to first cut the caramel into 1-inch rectangles that I will wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a nice after dinner treat.
You will want to cut half of them down into 24 cubes for the bars.
Meanwhile, using a food processor crush 2 sleeves of graham crackers (2 cups). In a medium microwave-safe bowl melt 2 sticks of butter. Mix the graham crackers, melted butter, 1 cup peanut butter and 3 cups of sifted powdered sugar until blended. Wrap the dough around a piece of caramel forming into a rounded dome share. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack on sheet. Place the bars on the wire rack. Set aside.
Note: You can use any kind of peanut butter but if using natural, which can sometimes be oily, you might need to increase the graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar accordingly. Also, smooth gives the filling a nice smooth finish, but chunky is just fine. (I used both natural and chunky for this recipe and as you can see the texture is a bit more rough but still nice.)
In a medium saucepan, preferably one that has a spout, melt 1 bag of chocolate chips with 4 tablespoons Crisco over a very low heat. You can use milk if you prefer but the Crisco gives it a smooth texture that pours easily.
Low heat and patience are needed through this process to ensure a smooth chocolate coating. Pour over the peanut butter domes covering all sides.
As a comparison, the smooth, sleek coating (bottom left) uses Crisco. The more uneven ones (center right) uses milk in the melting process.
Let cool for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the chocolate hardens. I find it easier to do this in 2 batches dividing the chocolate and Crisco to keep the chocolate smooth and flowing.
Note: If you want to make the Reese bars skip the caramel steps. Mix the filling ingredients together and press into a 9 x 13-inch pan. Melt the chocolate with 3 tablespoons of milk instead of Crisco. Spread on top of peanut butter. Let sit for an hour, or until the chocolate is set, before cutting into 24 squares.
Happy Birthday, baby girl! I love you forever! – Ella
Peanut Butter Bombs
• 1/2 cup butter
• 1/2 cups heavy cream
• 3 tablespoons water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
• 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
• 2 sticks melted butter
• 1/2 cup peanut butter
• 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
• 16 ounces of chocolate chips
• 4 tablespoons of Crisco (or milk)
- Line a loaf pan with foil sprayed with cooking spray cut long enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Set aside.
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, cut butter into chunks and combine with the heavy cream. Heat in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until butter has melted. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan combine the water, corn syrup, and vanilla. Add the sugar and gently stir just moistening the sugar.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover pan with a lid and let boil for 1 minute.
- Remove lid and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sugar reaches a temperature of 320°F and the mixture is a light amber.
- Add the butter and cream mixture 1 tablespoon at a time stirring after each addition. You want to work slowly through this process because the butter and cream causing the mixture to bubble vigorously and can bubble over the sides if not careful.
- Continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes bringing the temperature back up to 240°F.
- Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Cool 20 to 30 minutes then scatter the salt over the caramel. Then, let the caramel cool 3 1/2 hours.
- Unmold the caramel and refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut into 24 cubes.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack on sheet.
- In a medium bowl, mix the filling ingredients. Wrap the dough around a piece of caramel and form into a dome shape bar. Place on the wire rack.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat slowly melt the chocolate chips with the Crisco stirring constantly to avoid burning. When the mixture is smooth and melted carefully pour over the peanut butter domes covering all sides.
- Let cool for 30 to 45 minutes until chocolate hardens.