New York has long been a food capital, from the upscale kitchens of our finest restaurants to the bagels and sausages on the street corners. But as anyone who has walked around Brooklyn has figured out, the next chapter of New York’s food history has everything to do with the local, “artisanal” food scene that is making its mark on the city. From the rise of greenmarkets and food fairs to the focus on seasonal ingredients, these products embody a DIY ethos that New York City has had from the very beginning.
The New-York Historical Society’s Museum store is introducing it’s A Taste of New-York History collection of specialty foods produced in New York City and State, including jams, savory condiments, and chocolates. One of those vendors is Liddabit Sweets, a candy company based in Brooklyn. Founded by Liz Gutman and Jen King, they make fresh caramels, lollipops and seasonal treats completely by hand. We spoke with Liz about starting the company, finding a home in New York, and just how they thought beer and pretzels would work in a caramel.
• Stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or electric mixer with large bowl
• 2 large (13″ x 18″) rimmed baking sheets, lined with parchment or wax paper
• Wooden toothpicks
For the centers
¼ cup (60 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups (275 g) creamy commercial peanut butter, such as Skippy
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks/150 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons (10 g) fine sea salt
1 cup (85 g) almond or peanut flour (see Note)
3 cups (400 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For dipping and garnish
About 4 cups (26 ounces/740 g) chopped dark chocolate, or 3 cups (19 ounces/540 g) chopped dark chocolate and½ cup (4 ounces/110 g) mild vegetable oil
Coarse sea salt (optional)
1 Make the centers: Combine all the ingredients in the mixer bowl and beat on medium-high speed until completely incorporated and creamy-looking. Cover and refrigerate the peanut butter mixture until it has firmed up a little (it should be pliable but hold its shape), about 30 minutes.
2 Scoop up a tablespoon of the mixture, roll it into a ball with your hands, and place it on one of the prepared baking sheets; repeat with the remaining mixture. Once all the mixture has been formed, place the balls in the refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes. (Any leftover peanut butter mixture can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge for up to a week.)
3 Prepare the dipping chocolate: Temper the 4 cups dark chocolate according to the instructions on page 26 or melt it as directed on page 24. Or use the 3 cups dark chocolate and ½ cup oil to make Cheater’s Chocolate Coating, following the directions on page 32. Place the coating of your choice in a large bowl.
4 Dip the buckeyes: Stick a toothpick into a peanut butter ball and dip it in the chocolate, but don’t submerge it—leave the top quarter undipped. This spot is what makes a buckeye a Buckeye! Transfer the buckeye to the second prepared baking sheet. Pull out the toothpick, twisting it gently, and either use your thumb to carefully smooth out the hole left behind or cover it with a few grains of coarse sea salt. Repeat with the remaining buckeyes.
5 Allow the buckeyes to set up until the chocolate is firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Store the buckeyes, layered with wax paper, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
NOTE: Nut flours are sold at specialty and health food stores. Bob’s Red Mill is a widely available brand; they have a great almond flour that works very well in this recipe, adding a delicate nutty flavor and hearty texture that we love. Peanut flour, which you can find online at Amazon, adds an extra-special peanutty kick that you should definitely try at least once.
LIZ SAYS: When we say “commercial” peanut butter, we mean the emulsified, no-oil-on-the-top kind. In the kitchen, we use Peanut Butter & Co’s Smooth Operator; it’s not quite as industrially shelf-stable as Jif or Skippy (don’t hoard it for the zombie apocalypse), but any minor separation that might occur can be ameliorated by placing the peanut butter in a microwave-safe dish and heating it gently in a microwave on High for 5- to 10-second bursts, stirring well between bursts. It should come back together.