The only thing better than a good recipe? When something is so easy to do that you don’t even need one. Welcome to As simple as that, a column in which we explain the process of preparing food and drinks that we can prepare with our eyes closed.
I’ve made it through the entire pastry shop without admitting my dark truth: I don’t like it chocolate. However, there is an exception to every rule. Mine? Chocolate paired with peanut butter. I used to satisfy my cravings through impulse purchases with holiday themes Reese’s Cups. For the record, Reese Easter eggs have my favorite peanut butter to chocolate ratio (read: a very high ratio). But that was before I came across horse chestnuts.
Sweet, salty, crumbly, yet smooth peanut butterballs dipped in dark chocolateHorse chestnuts are retro, no-bake confectionery that taste like peanut butter cups and look like half-naked chocolate truffles. Dress ’em up, dress’ em down, they’re better than Reese’s and don’t require any baking or special baking skills.
The horse chestnut is native to Ohio (also known as Buckeye State). According to LegendSometime in the 1960s, Ohio-based Gail Tabor invented horse chestnuts while trying to dip peanut butterballs in chocolate. She noticed that her partially submerged candy looked like horse chestnut nuts being shed from Ohio state tree and resemble chestnuts: dark and shiny dark brown, with a light brown tip. Tabor brought her horse chestnuts to the Ohio State – Michigan soccer games for years, with great success. The recipe finally came out, much to Tabor’s dismay, and now we can all enjoy these delicious treats.
To make a simple batch of horse chestnuts, set up your facility. You will need wooden skewers and a cooling shelf in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this will catch the chocolate drops).
Mix together 2 ½ cups of powdered sugar, ½ cup plus 1 tbsp. peanut butter (not natural, has a higher oil content and can separate), 5 tbsp. melted unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon. pure vanilla extract, and ½ tsp. kosher salt. The final texture is a little crumbly, but holds together when pressed together.
Take a tablespoon of peanut butter batter in your hand. Squeeze or roll the dough between the palms of your hands to form a 1 “ball. Repeat. They don’t have to be perfect. Cover the peanut butter balls and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
After the peanut butterballs have cooled completely, melt chopped by 8 ounces dark chocolate Mix (between 58% and 70% cocoa) in a small bowl until smooth, stirring frequently. You want to use real semi-sweet chocolate and no chocolate chips. Chocolate chips contain emulsifiers and do not harden properly.
Dipped horse chestnuts in simply melted chocolate and let them taste good to harden. As a pastry chef, however, I like to make traditional horse chestnuts glow temper the dark chocolate. This process makes your chocolate extra shiny, with a satisfying “crack” when you bite into it. You can easily temper dark chocolate in the microwave: Melt it ⅔ of the chopped dark chocolate (here that’s about 5 ⅓ ounces) to 114 to 118 ° F on one instantly readable thermometer. Then “sow” the melted chocolate with the reserved one ⅓ chopped unmelted chocolate, a small handful at a time, stirring constantly, until all of the chocolate has melted and the temperature reaches 88 to 89 ° F.
Regardless of whether you temper the melted chocolate or not, skewer the top of each peanut butter ball and dip most of it into the chocolate, leaving the top free.