Love is most certainly in the air around here, and not only because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This recipe for healthy peanut butter cups was very intimidating to me because it was my first time making any sort of candy from scratch, and candy is supposed to be really terrifying the first time–at least, that’s what I’m told.
On top of my fear of being a candy-making newbie, I had some pretty high expectations of myself. First, it had to be healthy, or else I couldn’t publish it here. Second, it had to taste good enough for me to not want to pop by the store for one of my old favorites: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I didn’t expect an exact replica, just something that would hit that same sweet spot… ya know? I was totally winging this recipe as I went along, and praying for ever-loving mercy that it would turn out for you!
In my opinion, peanut butter and chocolate have the most romantic relationship in all of Candyland. So I think they’re a perfect treat for Valentine’s Day, and my prayers were certainly answered in this recipe. These peanut butter cups definitely hit the spot, and in some ways, I think they’re better than Reese’s. (Once I got used to not eating processed food, Reese’s started to taste like metal to me. Has this happened to you, or am I insane?)
This recipe made about 36 chocolates in my heart-shaped candy mold, but your yield will vary quite a bit depending on what you use. If you use a mold, you’ll want a fairly deep one (about 3/4″ – 1″ deep).
2 cups dark chocolate chips (you can get unsweetened, or sweetened with organic cane sugar, but check the ingredients and make sure you recognize everything on there as a real food, mkay?)
1/4 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter (doesn’t matter if it’s smooth or crunchy)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 Tbsp vanilla
1/8 tsp powdered stevia (or less if you are using sweetened chocolate chips)
1/4 cup oat flour (don’t spend the extra cash! Just blend rolled oats in your blender for a few seconds)
You’ll also need either a candy mold or several mini cupcake liners, and a small (clean) craft paint brush. The one I’m using is about 1/3 inch in diameter.
In a double boiler, heat chocolate chips. If you’re like me and don’t own a double boiler, just fill a pot with water and set a metal mixing bowl on top of it. You need to make sure the bowl can make a decent seal against the rim of the pot, and that the bowl doesn’t sit too deep into the pot. It’s important that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch any water, so that your chocolate gets steamed instead of sauteed.
While the chocolate is melting (it takes about 3-5 minutes) stir together the peanut butter, coconut oil, vanilla and stevia. Then add the oat flour, one tablespoon at a time, stirring it to combine completely before adding the next spoonful. The result will be pretty runny, but after your chocolates set up, it’ll be nice and “firm yet gooey” in the middle.
After a couple of minutes, use a rubber spatula to stir your melting chocolate. Once the chocolate is completely melted and really shiny, you’re ready to start making candy.
Use your paintbrush to paint the bottom and sides of your candy mold.
Make sure you cover the mold completely, or your peanut butter (jibbly bits) will show through in the finished product.
Try not to say any cuss words about the fact that your chocolate mold is brown, making it extremely difficult to tell how well you’ve coated it. Just remind yourself this is a creative and fulfilling labor of love and keep painting.
Be careful not to paint chocolate outside the mold. See the heart above? That’s going to look funny when the candy is done. If you do paint outside the lines, there’s an easy fix: just use a dry finger to wipe it clean.
Voila. (And I hope you licked your finger.) It’s okay if it looks like a chocolate wreck in there. You won’t be able to tell when all is said and done.
Place your chocolate-painted candy tray in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Then remove it and begin filling it with your sweet peanut butter mixture. I used a baby spoon to get just the right amount. Be sure to leave at least 1/8 – 1/4 inch in the top. The rest of your melted chocolate can remain on the stove this entire time. Check your water to make sure the pan doesn’t go dry. You may need to add more.
Once the peanut butter layer has set up in the freezer, pull it out to add your final layer of chocolate. I used the baby spoon again for this step, rather than the paint brush. The hot chocolate begins to melt the peanut butter layer rather quickly, so I used the spoon to place a dollup of chocolate on top, then used the paint brush to pat it down flat. It sounds like a horrifically tedious ordeal when I type this all out.
Okay, it really WAS a tedious ordeal. All in all, it took about 45 minutes to make these chocolates. But they were worth it. For a very special occasion, these little delights are perfect:
As you can see, I wasn’t really perfect with painting inside the lines on a few of these… but most of them were gorgeous.
You can use cupcake liners instead of candy molds for these peanut butter cups. Just follow the same instructions, painting the bottom and sides of the liners about 1/2 inch up, then filling with peanut butter mixture, then topping with more chocolate (don’t forget to chill in between layers). It may be easier to cut the liners down to about 1/2 inch tall before pouring. Using cupcake liners will give you peanut butter cups that look just like Reese’s:
(Taste of Home used the cupcake liners, refined sugar and trans-fat shortening in the above picture.)
I also made a batch to give to my little boys on Valentine’s Day. Aren’t these adorable?