Halloween and Homemade Candy

I know it's been a while. I've been slacking on my posting but sometimes I just don't have anything to say, or I do and then I don't have time. Between work and travel, family and friends, and a minor self-induced health panic life has been mildly bananas the last few weeks.

It's no secret that Fall is one of my favorite seasons, and Halloween plays a big role. The fun-filled holiday always creeps up on me and reminds me of days dressed in homemade costumes as an M&M, Hershey Kiss, or box of Corn Flakes- see a theme? Clearly I was obsessed with dressing up as giant versions of food. Normal.

This year, when planning a costume, Josh shockingly agreed to get on board. Last year I tried to have him wear a giant money sign and was met with what I'll kindly down play for the sake of this blog as resistance. So, in planning this year, I knew it had to be something easy and something we could make from our own closets. As any costume planning process goes, we had a few plans before we landed on the winner. First we were going to go as robbers and have Josh's nephew dress up as a bag of money. Next, once our bag of money declined to be a bag of money, we decided to build our costumes around his (a dalmatian)  with me going as cruella deville and josh as a dognapper. Well, the trick with kids is that they grow and as our luck would have it, our dalmatian grew out of his dalmatian costume and decided to be an elephant. But since our wigs and masks were already purchased- cruella and a dog napper we shall be, minus one adorable dog.

Our costumes came out really well and everyone seemed to dig my red lips and black & white 'do.

And here's a few of our elephant, because let's face it, he's the cutest and I'm a ridicuously biased pseudo-aunt.

Now, onto the candy...

In preparation for our night of trick or treating, I tackled a baking feat that I've been staring up at for a while: homemade candy. I've always wanted to try it but have been mildly afraid of melted chocolate, molds and failure. With the perfect excuse, I took the plunge. Since my favorite candy combination is chocolate and peanut butter, I opted for homemade peanut butter cups.

It took two attempts to get them just right but the final product was out of this world. If anyone is thinking about trying them I highly encourage it. I've included some tips I learned along the way and hopefully, armed with this guide- you won't need two attempts to get them right.

Sari's Homemade Peanut Butter Cup's

1/2 cup JIF peanut butter (do not use the natural kind, this was discovered in attempt 1)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (or more to taste)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp butter (very soft but not melted)
1 tsp salt
12 ounces (or 1 bag) milk chocolate (I used semisweet the first time around and they just didn't have the real peanut butter cup taste)

Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. I used a standard muffin tin but a mini muffin tin would work as well. This recipe yielded 12 full size cups.

In a microwave safe bowl melt half of your chocolate (half a bag or 6 ounces). I melted mine in the microwave and put the chocolate in for 30 second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds. It took me 3 rounds to get the chocolate fully melted.

Spoon about 2 teaspoons of chocolate into each cup and using the back of a spoon or a paint brush, spread the chocolate up the sides of the paper liner. I used my finger because it gave me the best control and allowed me to ensure the chocolate was even. You want a thin layer of chocolate but not so thin that it will break. The idea is to create the base for which the peanut butter filling will sit so the chocolate should be about midway up the sides of the cups. Once all of your cups are filled, place the tray in the freezer to set.

While your chocolate sets, make the peanut butter filling. Combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, brown sugar, and butter in a small bowl. With the paddle of an electric mixer, mix well until incorporated. Add salt and mix again.

Check on your chocolate (mine was hardened in about 5 minutes) once ready, remove from the refrigerator and fill with peanut butter filling. I found the most effective way of doing this was to make little balls of peanut butter filling and flatten them out with my hand. Then i placed them inside the chocolate cups. Once all cups are filled with peanut butter, melt the remainder of your chocolate the same way you did last time.

Fill each cup with 1-2 teaspoons of chocolate ensuring that you smooth the chocolate out so that it fills the space between the side of the cup and the peanut butter filling (you want to create a chocolate seal so you get that authentic peanut butter cup). Once all of the cups have a chocolate top, place back in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes and voila!

I didn't get the chance to snap a photo and in truth I didn't even get to eat one, that's how popular they were but this is what they looked like (picture from pinterest). I'll definitely be trying these again in the near future!