The goal: A supremely simple yet still sweet and unexpected Valentine’s gift for my wife.
The result: Chocolate Peanut Perfection, with a kick from Cajun spices.
I don’t usually “do” Valentine’s Day, at least not in the sense of buying flowers or going out to the best place in town for dinner. (Which would have required reservations made before Thanksgiving.) I prefer to use my own grubby little mitts to create something that’s mildly surprising and special. I enjoy it more and so does my wife.
This year I decided early on that I was going to do some happy heart-shaped stuff and since my wife has been doing an amazing job of abstaining from it (fitness testing coming up.) I figured some sort of a sophisticated chocolate treat was in order.
While these little gems are no more than fancy peanut clusters, the flavor is probably not what you would expect at first glance. The addition of Ancho chile powder to the chocolate and some Cajun spice to the peanuts does a wonderful job of adding several different subtle undertones to the chocolate, all of which serve to make it taste even more like chocolaty, if that’s possible.
These aren’t perfect, but then I’m lacking in a few of the tools I would like to have when molding chocolate. They are also quite obviously hand made, and were done so in secret, which is not an easy task when your wife is only out of the house for 4 hours at a stretch. (Melt, mold, fridge, cleanup in less than 2 hours, then cook something that covers the smell of the chocolate… You try it!)
In the end it all worked. My wife was presented with a few of these last night. She was thrilled, which makes me extremely happy.
Happy Valentines Day, everyone!
- 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate chips if you prefer.)
- 1 Tablespoon butter.
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
- Spicy Salt-Roasted Peanuts
- Place chocolate, butter and Cajun seasoning in a bowl or the top of a double boiler. Heat over a pan of simmering water until melted, stir constantly to combine flavors and butter and prevent scorching the chocolate. (about 6 minutes.)
- Meanwhile, arrange heart shaped molds (or whatever shape you prefer) on a silpat or buttered parchment paper that has been placed on the bottom side of a chilled sheet pan. Arrange peanuts in molds in a single layer.
- When chocolate has melted completely, spoon into molds just until nuts are completely covered, tapping the sides of the molds gently to help settle the chocolate. If there is remaining chocolate, mix in nuts if desired and spoon clusters directly onto silpat or parchment paper. (Why waste this, it’s GOOD!)
- Move entire tray to refrigerator for 2-4 hours or until chocolate is set firmly.
- Gently press cold heart shapes out of molds. Once all pieces are unmolded, return to refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle chocolates with powdered sugar if desired and arrange on a serving plate, or in an airtight container between layers of parchment paper to prevent candies from sticking.
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
I’m going to learn how to get tempered chocolate in this strange Texas atmosphere. Despite my best efforts, could not get the chocolate to set firmly. (You may notice a fingerprint or two in the photos, this was from less than 3 second’s contact with the chocolate… My method needs work!)
Also, consider mixing the peanuts with the chocolate first, then molding. The bottoms will be prettier this way. (Not that I mind, they still taste just as good!)
Links to other recipes like this:
- A bunch of clusters, from cookies, Et Cetera