How bout we kick off the first post of The Chocolate Peanut Butter Gallery’s 4th year (woo!) with one of the fanciest and tastiest dessert recipes I’ve prepared? Sound good? Let’s go!
Because it fell on a Monday, Taste Tester and I celebrated Valentine’s Day the previous Sunday with a fun, casual lunch of heart-shaped peanut butter sandwiches at Peanut Butter & Co.
Then came Monday – the real, actual Valentine’s Day.
Hm, but… we already celebrated. What do we do now??
It didn’t feel right to serve the usual dinner the usual way, but I also didn’t have a ton of time to throw together something fancy. With a quick peruse of the cupboards and a browse of my stowed away recipes, I zeroed in on Everyday Food’s Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes with Caramel Sauce. It had few ingredients, little prep work and looked fancy-shmancy. Perfect.
And it was! This dessert yielded one of the most enthusiastic reactions I’ve ever received from Taste Tester. He was practically speechless while eating it, but managed to eke out a few slow, satisfied-sounding “mmmm”s.
I’d had it bookmarked for quite some time but admittedly shied away because making anything that involves caramel scares me a bit. Half the time when I’ve attempted it, I’ve overcooked and burnt it. But luckily I had a handy mini supply of fancy fleur de sel caramel stowed away in my cupboard.
I had picked this jar up during one of our many days of NYC-wandering (which I’ll admit, tend to turn into walking from one gourmet store to the next with a bakery or two in between. What can I say? I’m a focused sweets-aholic). This sauce is salty and super thick – too thick to use straight from the jar. I thinned it out on the fly by heating it with a little butter and a healthy amount of cream. It was gooey, salty caramel perfection. If you don’t have this particular sauce, I’d recommend heating up any caramel topping and adding a little salt to it (and maybe add some butter and cream to taste, depending on your desired consistency).
But we’re not done – to top it all off: some homemade whipped cream and chopped Snickers Peanut Butter. The flavors all blended perfectly. It was warm, fancy-looking, delicious and I wasn’t worn out and frazzled after making it. This was a win on every level. And the pudding cake is a great base for improvisation. You can top it with peanut butter sauce and peanut butter cups instead – whatever you like or have on hand. (Can I go on a quick tangent and point out the irony of using fancy fleur de sel caramel with chopped Snickers Bars from our corner 24-hour candy store? Irony aside, it worked wonderfully.)
Needless to say, these should be served warm from the oven so that the caramel, candy bars and whipped cream slowly melt into a pool of deliciousness as you eat it.
Also needless to day: these did not last long.
Get the recipe from Everyday Food and enjoy by some candlelight to fancy it up even more. It’s the perfect recipe for a holiday, birthday… half birthday? Whatever excuse you can drum up to justify it, go for it. Your sweetie will never know this was a quick dessert (unless you spill the beans and tell them, like I did :-P).