Once again, the fine folks of Southside Christian Church have served as worthy taste testers for my latest recipe. In this case, I placed a couple of plastic containers full of these little gems in the narthex. I share my concoctions there for 2 reasons:
1. My S.O. and I donâ€™t need the extra calories attached to our behinds.
2. The one thing I can count on with the fine folks of Southside Christian Church is a definite opinion!
By the time I finished my postlude and reached the narthex area, the plastic containers were completely void of content. When I asked for opinions, all I got was the sound of licked fingers and smacked lips. I took that as taste tester code for success.
So what are PB & J Caramel Chewies? Well, I started with the basic recipe that I use for my Christmas Wreaths and Easter Egg Nests, and added some pretzels.
I included them because the 2 ingredients for our Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge this month are pretzels and caramel. So of course Chewies came to mind! I figured the pretzels would be just enough salt and crunch to complement the chewy peanut butter caramel. And I had been thinking about doing some kind of PB & J variation of them here lately anyway. But I didnâ€™t want to put any olâ€™ jelly in the middle; I wanted a fresh strawberry jammy-like filling.
The next quandary was the shape. I wanted it to be small enough for a person to pop in their mouth in one bite; but it had to be a vessel that could house some of that beautiful ruby jeweled jam. When I tried to create the cups free-form on a cookie sheet, it was a slow process. Time is of the essence when it comes to making Chewies, because the mixture sets up rather quickly. So I grabbed a mini muffin pan, threw a hunk of the caramel mixture into each cup and gave it a quick dimple with the handle of my wooden spoon. It worked! After letting them set for about 30 minutes, I was able to fill each cup with the strawberries. The only thing left was to wait for the test results at church.
In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch and ¼ cup sugar. Add strawberries and lemon juice. Combine well. Bring mixture to a boil and cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool (mixture will thicken more as it cools).
In another medium saucepan, heat remaining ½ cup sugar and corn syrup over medium high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Add cereal and pretzels and mix until well coated. Press by tablespoonfuls into the cups of a 24-cup nonstick mini muffin pan. Using the handle of the wooden spoon, make an indentation in the middle of each cup, being careful to not create a hole at the bottom. Let cool in the mini muffin pan for about a ½ hour until cups are firm. Then remove the cups from the pan and fill with strawberry jam. Serve immediately.