Before we start discussing such important matters, I feel I need to put my cards on the table. From way back I’ve been a die-hard 70% cocoa-solids-or-nothing type of girl.
I once thought the only answer to the question of whether milk chocolate should even deserve to be called ‘chocolate’ was a resounding N.O.
I’m risking getting myself kicked out of the dark chocolate lovers club here… but I need to share my story.
A few years ago, I took a job which many would consider the ‘holy grail’ of employment.
Yes, I was a chocolate biscuit (cookie) designer for the best chocolate biscuits in Australia. Yes, it was my job to come up with new Tim Tams. And yes I got paid to eat chocolate.
One of my favourite parts of the job was visiting the factory where the chocolate was made. Not exactly Willy-Wonka, but easily the best smelling work place I’ve ever encountered.
The thing that surprised me the most was that when we were making milk chocolate, the smells were actually better than when we were making dark.
At first I just ignored my traitorous nose. But as I learned more about chocolate making, it started to make sense.
During the ‘chonching’ or chocolate making process the chocolate is mixed for long periods of time to give that lovely super smooth texture.
At the same time, the milk proteins in the milk powder used for milk chocolate are able to react with the sugars to produce lovely caramel flavours. These add another dimension to milk chocolate than just the cocoa flavours, the milky flavours and the simple sweetness.
It also makes it smell amazingly good.
So is milk chocolate better than dark?
Really, it depends what you’re in the mood for…
If it’s the smooth richness of a fine chocolate melting in your mouth, dark is where it’s at.
If you’re looking for a lovely sweet dessert to end a meal. Sometimes a good caramelly, sweet milk chocolate will be heaven sent. Just make sure it’s real chocolate, not any of that cheap ‘Easter egg’ crap.
How do you tell if chocolate is real chocolate?
Check the ingredients list. It should have ‘cocoa butter, cocoa solids or cocoa mass’ listed. If it just says ‘vegetable oil’ then step away from the packet.
And a quick announcement before I get to the cake recipe…
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no-bake chocolate peanut butter cake
This is a super rich cake. Serve small slices! If you’re a die-hard dark chocolate lover, please go ahead and use your favourite 70%+ cocoa solids. Or live dangerously and try your own blend of milk and dark.
200g (7oz) whipping cream
400g (14oz) good quality milk chocolate
200g (7oz) shortbread biscuits
150g (5oz) peanut butter
1. Bring cream to the boil in a small saucepan.
2. Bash or chop chocolate into small chunks and place in a bowl or jug. Add hot cream and stand for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, line a loaf pan with baking paper, cling wrap or foil.
4. Stir cream and chocolate until smooth and well combined. Pour enough melted chocolate into the base of the cake to cover the bottom.
5. Place a layer of shortbread on top. Cover with peanut butter and scatter with flakes of sea salt, if you like the whole sweet and salty thing.
6. Add a final layer of shortbread. Drizzle remaining chocolate over the top.
7. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or longer if possible.
dairy-free – use dairy-free cookies instead of buttery shortbread. Replace cream with almond milk or rice milk or coconut milk. And replace milk chocolate with dark. I’d drizzle in a little honey on top of the peanut butter to give a little extra sweetness.
dark chocolate – be a purist and replace milk chocolate with 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate.
nut-free – just skip the peanut butter and make a layer of chocolate between the 2 layers of shortbread.
short on time? – chop the shortbread into chunks to make them easier to eat. Freeze until the chocolate is set.
white chocolate – don’t be tempted. There won’t be enough cocoa solids to get the cake ‘set’.
video version of the recipe
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The whole way I cook has under gone a transformation. Your recipes where the ones that started me down this path, as I find I can manage any of them any night after work.
Yummy! This looks so delicious and chocolate and peanut butter can’t go wrong :)
How lucky to be working as a chocolate biscuit designer! I would actually do that job for free ;) with unlimited supply of chocolate of course ;)
This looks like a chocolate peanut butter lovers (me) paradise! Great recipe.
Yes I was lucky Chinmayie! Although it wasn’t so great for my waistline ;)
Oh my giddy aunt!
I am SO making this.
Giddy is such a great word Felicity!
oh yumm, this looks so delicious, love peanut butter and chocolate together!
Yes PB and Chocolate – one of the happiest food marriages ever
My immediate reaction upon reading this title in my inbox was “NO. The audacity!”
Okay, I didn’t shout it out loud, and the whole “audacity” thing was more a feeling than the actual word in my brain, but the “NO” was pretty legit.
Not that I absolutely-never-no-way will eat milk chocolate, but given the option, I will always take the dark.
I got an email from a friend of mine with pretty much exactly the same response.. then over the weekend I got a text message from the same friend saying he was enjoying some fine Austrian MILK chocolate over Easter… So glad to hear you’re never saying never!
What a cool job you had! I like both milk and dark. If it’s good quality stuff, both can be fabulous.
I want to weep…..
no! it’s meant to make you smile :)
I completely agree with you. I used to think that dark chocolate was the only way to go but now I even find myself munching on the white stuff occasionally too. Scandalous, I know (but it definitely has to be good quality! no plastic chocolate).
glad to hear I’m not the only one Mallory!
Lovely! Please tell me what you dolloped on top? I need that too when I make this.
just some double cream.. whipped cream would work too
That looks great! I was expecting it to need freezing but am happy to see only refrigeration.
But really it should be “out sourced baking” cake, unless we can figure out a way not to use (baked) biscuits.
feel free to rename it if it works for you ;)
After eating this I could officially die a happy woman.
The danger is if you have another slice, it may actually be fatal Alison ;)
I should have put a warning on the recipe
I made this for Easter with the family, was a huge success, it was enjoyed by all. Thanks!
thanks for reporting back Lisa!
So glad your family enjoyed it
Feeds my sweet tooth, love your blog and recipes…
Have you ever made this cake in advance? I made it the other week (amazing!) & now want to make it for a friend. I’d have to make it 3 days ahead of time & was wondering if the shortbread would get soggy? Any advice?
* Mine was gone in a day & a half ;) so I don’t know how it tastes after sitting a few days!
Thank for great recipe,this looks so delicious.I love chocolate and peanut butter.
Would it be possible to heat the cream in the microwave? I don’t have access to a hob at the moment.
Love the idea of this! The university I go to servces a chocolate peanut butter that I love, but now that I’m off campus I don’t get anymore. So glad I found a recipe for it that I can make that doesn’t require skills in cooking.