This afternoon I headed to the Brooklyn Kitchen, a massive homeware store in Williamsburg that also holds daily cooking classes. After donning an apron and a nametag, I walked to the classroom – which was surprisingly spacious. A cauldron of hot chocolate and bucket of pumpkin beers were at the ready to help us through the arduous task ahead.
Our teacher, a pastry chef named Megan, handed out the recipes – five different Halloween favorites: peanut butter cups, peppermint patties, toffee apples, coconut bars and ghost-shaped marshmallows. We had just two hours for the different recipes, but thankfully they were all pretty straight-forward and we could work on them simultaneously.
Now I don’t want to give away all of Megan’s secrets, but I’ll let you into what we did for my favorite – the peanut butter cups.
We started by melting milk chocolate (about lb for 36 sweets) and then used spoons to coat the inside of paper candy cups, making sure that the bottom and sides were covered. Then we popped them into mini muffin trays and left them to set.
In the meantime, we got to the filling. Everyone had a bit of a giggle when I said that I had assumed the middle of the cups would just be peanut butter; it turns out there are a few more steps than that. We chucked two cups of powdered sugar, 1 1/2 cups of smooth peanut butter (that’s about a normal sized jar of Jif or Skippy etc) and 3 tablespoons of butter into a food mixer (although you could do it by hand, just make sure the butter is soft). As it was mixing, we sprinkled over a couple of pinches of salt.
When the cups were set, we forced the peanut butter mixture into piping bags and then piped it into the cups, leaving space at the top for more chocolate. We dabbed water on our fingers and smoothed the peanut butter, before adding chocolate to the top.
Another winner was the coconut bars, which were sweet and soft, and tasted like a chunk of marzipan. For these, it’s another simple process: flaked coconut, desiccated coconut, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, butter, salt and vanilla all whipped up in the mixer. After flattening it on a tray and letting it set in the fridge, we cut the slab into blocks and dipped it in chocolate. Delicious.
I had thought that the peppermint patties were going to be among my favorites, but after we chilled them and dipped them in chocolate, they melted into minty sweet goo. The marshmallow ghosts were more complicated but fun to pipe out – although I didn’t try any as they have non-veggie friendly gelatin in them. Cute though!
This was a great class – Megan was so friendly and really good with our questions, as well as offering up details about her job as a pastry chef and dessert maker. Although we covered a ton in two hours, I didn’t feel rushed at all. Plus the venue was gorgeous, and I’m definitely keen to check out more of their classes now.