Artisan peanut butter cups the size of your fist, topped with cookies, candy and Belgian chocolate are Brooklyn's newest dessert craze—and they're the creation of a Park Slope foodie who conjures the Franken-PB cups in his very own kitchen.
Patrick LaMarca, 39, is a production manager who's worked at famous venues in NYC like Blue Note Jazz Club and Sony Hall, but for the past year, he's donned another hat—a chef's hat, creating incredible candy concoctions for his new business, 4AM CANDY CO.
The monster artisan chocolate cups are filled with homemade peanut butter, cake or pie, then sealed with Belgian chocolate and topped with classic cookies or candy bars. So, yeah—they're pretty over the top.
The "Prospect Park," inspired by the trails in the nearby park where LaMarca and his girlfriend, singer and production manager Christine Vaindirlis, take their dog for walks, is a dark chocolate peanut butter-filled cup with Oreos, milk chocolate chips and M&M cookies.
"King Tubby" is a peanut butter cup topped with Belgian milk chocolate, a Nutter Butter cookie, a mini Nutter Butter cookie, Reese Pieces and Milk Chocolate.
"Zebra Cake" is sealed with Belgian chocolate and topped with fudge stripe cookies and chocolate covered pretzels.
You can find more on the menu here. Each one goes for $5 and is about the size of a cupcake, but they can also be bought in six-packs (including for Valentine's Day, which you can pre-order now).
LaMarca couldn't have told you in 2019 that he'd ever be making these decadent treats. He doesn't have a culinary or baking background, but he's made huge strides in learning the ins and outs of tempering chocolate and how to run his very own business, something he's always wanted to do.
The idea of mashing up peanut butter cups as an artisan treat literally came to him in the shower—as most brilliant ideas do—when he was furloughed last year. The self-proclaimed foodie saw accounts on Instagram mashing up cookies, so he applied the idea to his favorite sweet using cookies and candies he found nostalgic, like some you'd find in your local bodega.
After trial and error in his own kitchen and hunting down the best quality ingredients, he made his company official in August by launching his website and crafting his artisan cups in rental "ghost kitchens" in NYC.
One batch, which is about 48 peanut butter cups, takes about two to three hours from start to finish.
The name 4AM comes from LaMarca's love of that time, working late at events and concerts. He's also a surfer and kayak saltwater fisherman, and 4am is "usually the right time to be on the water."
He credits his girlfriend, Christine Vaindirlis, with doing the heavy lifting of packaging and logistics. The duo has been delivering and doing pick-ups in Park Slope, but also has had a lot of business from Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy.
He wants to see the business grow even more, even though it wasn't initially what he planned to do with his life. His world has been centered around rooms full of thousands of people as a production manager and he's loved mixing and traveling the world, so he doesn't want to give that up when live shows return, but "it's nice to have something that fills in the holes," he said.
"Honestly, I really like doing this," LaMarca added. "I'd like to see it scale. I might actually want to develop it into a brick-and-mortar or see it in coffee shops."
For now, you can order the franken-peanut butter cups at 4amcandyco.com.
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