Here comes Halloween! It’s time for spooky fun and, yes, lots of junk food. But you can take back some of the control over this candy-fest by making your own unprocessed sweet treats. The peanut butter cups like the ones you buy at the store are easy to make at home, with a fraction of the sugar and all of the satisfying richness.
Peanut butter cups are hard to mess up, because you’re working with peanut butter and chocolate, two flavors that are amongst the best on the planet. All you need to do is make them into an easily edible package.
The basic approach with the cups is that you take mini muffin liners, layer the bottom with melted chocolate, plunk a dollop of peanut butter in the middle, then cover with more chocolate and allow them to harden before devouring. Sound simple? Well it is, there are just a few nuances to the process.
You’ll want to have some special equipment around, namely, the mini muffin liners, as well as two mini muffin pans, to keep the liners steady as they’re filled up with the unwieldy melted chocolate.
You’ll also want to have a squeeze bottle for distributing the chocolate. It’s much easier and neater to squeeze the chocolate from a bottle than to get the right amount into each cup using a spoon. You can either buy a squeeze bottle at a kitchen supply store, or use an old squeeze bottle of mustard or ketchup that’s been well cleaned.
For those who are allergic to nuts, peanut butter cups can easily be made with a different filling, like sunflower butter, tahini, or pumpkin seed butter. You’ll need to adjust the sweetness and flavor, as seeds can have a naturally bitter taste compared to nuts.
Except for the sugar that’s in the bittersweet chocolate, there is no added sugar in this recipe. The taste of the candy hinges on the flavor of the ingredients. To make the peanut butter taste sweet, I add coconut butter, vanilla, and cinnamon. If you like, you can sweeten the peanut butter by adding 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time, and see how it tastes. You could also add a single package of stevia, the sweetener that’s derived from the stevia plant.
Good luck with these elegant, adult-friendly, not-too-sweet treats, and have a happy Halloween!
Peanut Butter Cups
Makes approximately 24 peanut butter cups
3/4 cup peanut butter, almond butter, or seed butter
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chips or bars)
Line two mini muffin pans with mini muffin liners.
Combine the peanut butter, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the sweetness with sugar or stevia, if desired, and transfer to a small bowl.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, and pour it into a clean squeeze bottle. Squeeze about a teaspoon of chocolate into each cup, and tilt the pan so that the chocolate evenly coats the bottom of each cup. Place the pans in the freezer for five minutes, until the chocolate hardens.
Coat a teaspoon with coconut oil to prevent sticking, then scoop 1 level teaspoon of peanut butter into each cup. Oil your fingertip with coconut oil, then press down gently on the peanut butter to flatten and spread it evenly. Squeeze just enough chocolate on top to cover the peanut butter, between 1 and 2 teaspoons. Refrigerate the cups for two hours, until firm. Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Looking for more Halloween treats? Try these:
Louisa Shafia is the author of The New Persian Kitchen, a book of healthy Mediterranean and Silk Road-inspired recipes, and Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life, a collection of seasonal recipes and eco-friendly kitchen tips. See Louisa’s cooking videos and her schedule of upcoming events at www.lucidfood.com.