I was never a big fan of peanut butter and chocolate together. It’s not that I dislike it, it’s an ingenious combination, but it was never something that I’ve had a craving for. I get bored by the flavor of peanut butter after a few bites. I usually just eat a few spoonfuls at a time when I’m peckish and don’t know what else to eat. Bronson and I were watching a movie one night last week when he brought out the PB jar and two spoons. I dug into the PB, took a few bites, and was overtaken by the perfect blend of saltiness, nuttiness, creaminess. How did this peanut butter taste better than normal?
It turned out that it tasted better than
normal because it wasn’t our normal PB. Bronson had bought JIF Honey Peanut Butter and holy shit was it delicious! I could not get enough of this incredibly smooth mix of salty and sweet. I did put the spoon away after a few more bites so that I didn’t inhale the entire jar, but I kept thinking about what I could do with this newfound PB from the gods.
I posted this glorious PB on Instagram and my Media Director/Manager from the Chocolate House/Chocolate Yoda, Jessica Hallon, commented on the post, asking if I had tried making dairy-free peanut butter cups. No, I hadn’t! But damnit, I will now! As I mentioned in my Almond Truffle post, I really miss making chocolates. Taking the time to temper chocolate and working with it to create something delicious was so soothing and rewarding. One of our most popular items from the Chocolate House was our house-made Peanut Butter Cups! People went nuts for them. What a better way to highlight the perfect PB than in a giant Peanut Butter cup? I scoured my cookbook shelf and opened every folder, cookbook and notepad that I had, but I could not find my notes from the Chocolate House. Thankfully, Jess still knows the recipe by heart. She was kind enough to send me our old recipe.
It starts with a full pound of chocolate. Milk or dark, your choice. I used dark chocolate for these PB cups so that I could actually eat them. I made sure to fully temper the chocolate so that I wouldn’t get little orange circles in my peanut butter cups once they had set. That’s what untampered chocolate looks like after it’s been melted and cooled. You’ll see a million tiny dots in your chocolate – Orange dots if using dark chocolate, white dots if using milk. There’s nothing terrible about not properly tempering chocolate, it will still be delicious, it’s just not as pretty. We couldn’t have sold improperly-tempered chocolate at the Chocolate House though.
Once I had my chocolate completely tempered, I mixed the peanut butter filling. Our original recipe for this uses butter, but I wanted to switch it out for vegan butter! I melted the PB and vegan butter in a bowl in the microwave. If I had used a PB that didn’t have honey in it, these PB cups would be totally vegan! How awesome is that? Once the two were mixed together, I added the powdered sugar and popped it in the fridge. You want this mix to be cold when you work with it so that you can shape the peanut butter in the center of the chocolate.
Once the PB mix was cooled, I melted my tempered chocolate. Remember: Only melt chocolate for 30 seconds at a time in the microwave! Chocolate burns easily and turns into a thick, curdled-looking, foot-smelling mess. Microwaving for 30 seconds at a time and mixing thoroughly in between intervals ensures that the chocolate will not burn, unless you keep putting the chocolate in the microwave after it’s already melted. When a majority of the chocolate is melted and only a few small lumps remain, just keep mixing the chocolate around and the heat will melt the few remaining lumps.
I set cupcake liners in a cupcake pan and poured spoonfuls of the melted chocolate into each cup. Then, I used a spoon to get some of the PB mixture and shaped it into a thick little disc in my hands. I put the PB on top of the melted chocolate in each cup and then poured another spoonful of melted chocolate over top, making sure to cover all of the peanut butter. This recipe will yield 9 PB cups if using a regular cupcake pan, 12 if using a mini cupcake pan.
Once the PB cups were assembled in the cupcake pan, I gently tapped the pan again the counter to get rid of any air bubbles in the chocolate. The tiny air bubbles will rise and then pop in the PB cups. Keep tapping until you see no more bubbles on top of the PB cups.
I set those puppies in the freezer for an hour and patiently waited for them to cool. You’ll be so impatient and excited, but stay calm, you don’t want to try pulling a half-melted PB cup out of a liner. I would recommend letting these warm back up to room temp before eating, but I won’t lie, I chomped on a mostly-frozen one. No shame, it was delicious.
I loved the addition of dark chocolate to the salty/sweet mix in the peanut butter. The chocolate literally melted in my mouth, all rich and creamy. I’m contemplating adding a few crystals of sea salt on top of the PB cups next time for an extra bite of salt on top of the dark chocolate. Even after mixing in vegan butter and powdered sugar, the PB still had the perfect blend of salty/sweetness. I had to remind myself to stop between bites and take pictures! Although I would not have minded eating another one specifically to take pictures of the gorgeous filling. Even in my cramped kitchen, these Peanut Butter Cups turned out just like they did at the Chocolate House. If only we had this badass PB back then!
Recipe for Peanut Butter Cups from the Chocolate House of Ann Arbor:
½ cup Organic smooth peanut butter
¼ cup Confectioner’s Sugar
2 Tblsp Butter (*Or Vegan Butter)
1 lb Chocolate, tempered
Melt together butter and peanut butter for 30 seconds.
Add in powdered sugar and mix.
Place in fridge for at least 20 minutes.
Set up cupcake liners.
Melt chocolate and put half a spoonful of chocolate in the bottom of cupcake liners.
Add the peanut butter mixture on top of the chocolate.
Add the second layer of chocolate and place the cupcake liners in the fridge.
Tap cupcake pan on counter lightly to release air bubbles.
Total Time: 2 hrs, start to finish including chilling time.
Peanut Butter Cups can be kept in freezer indefinitely, or in fridge/at room temp for up to one week.
*To make PB Cups vegan, use vegan-friendly dark chocolate, vegan butter and vegan-friendly peanut butter. If using Vegan butter, eat the PB cups A.S.A.P. The vegan butter dries out quickly, and you don’t want crumbly PB filling. Currently working on a solution!