Here we are, the day after Thanksgiving, and while I already know you’re not reading this in the early morning hours as it posts, not when you’re either still in bed, reeling from yesterday’s food coma, or, out in the crowds, fighting your way through Black Friday traffic and sales, I’m bringing you a festive Christmas-colored homemade peanut butter cup recipe right now anyway because (a) It’s from a cookbook I want to tell you about and (b) hello, it’s peanut butter cups. Homemade peanut butter cups! A girl hardly needs the perfect time to share that.
So first, the cookbook. I added Alana Chernila’s book to my library queue months ago, and, despite faithfully reading her thoughtful and empowering blog, Eating from the Ground Up, in the intervening time since, I have to admit that I’d all but forgotten about it completely when my email notification finally came, letting me know, at last, my time had come.
The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making is one of those cookbooks that’s handy to have around. Maybe you’re the kind of person who has always wanted to bake her own graham crackers but didn’t know where to start: this book shows you how. Maybe you’re curious about vanilla extract: here’s the way to make it. In my case, one quick flip through the pages (and in the grocery store parking lot, no less!) had me bookmarking five or six recipes to try, right away. I bought peanuts to make peanut butter. I turned pie crusts into toaster pastries. And, twice last week, before we came home for the holiday, I made homemade peanut butter cups.
What I like so much about making your own peanut butter cups—very much like making your own kombucha or kefir or salsa or pesto or sourdough bread—is that doing so opens your eyes to possibility. What once was something to buy is now something that may be made. What once was unknown becomes manageable. It’s freeing. It’s empowering. It’s one of my favorite things about cooking.
And in the case of these peanut butter cups, it’s also delicious. The process is easy, and you can customize the finished chocolates by choosing the type and darkness you like, adjusting it to your taste—maybe you’re like us and want to combine 100% chocolate with 85%, for a dark, dark version that’s hardly even sweet; or maybe, on the other hand, you want a milk chocolate; or, maybe you want a chocolate you can make on your own—you begin by setting out mini muffin liners, then melting some chocolate; spoon a little into the liners; mix up the filling and scoop some inside; top everything with chocolate; let it harden. That’s it!
These rich and nutty treats pack an impressive depth of flavor, even beyond being pretty and sweet. It should also be said, since the day after Thanksgiving is nothing if not the start of the Christmas season, that they’d make great additions to holiday gift baskets in the coming weeks. Enjoy!
Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
Adapted from The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making
Makes 15 mini peanut butter cups
Just as further proof of the flexibility of this great recipe: The original ingredients in Alana’s book called for a pound of chocolate, with all the remaining ingredients doubled, to make a total of 30 cups. Because we were buying dark chocolate bars, we rounded down to get two 3.5-ounce bars (total of 7 ounces, just shy of 1/2 pound), and it still worked great!
Two of your favorite 3.5-ounce dark chocolate bars, broken up into pieces (we like super dark, as in 85%)
½ cup peanut butter*
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon palm sugar (or Sucanat or sugar)
Lay out 15 mini muffin liners on a large plate(s) or baking sheet. Set up a double boiler over medium heat, using it to melt the chocolate, stirring while it does. Once chocolate is totally smooth, remove from heat.
Spoon a little bit of the chocolate into each muffin liner, aiming to make a very thin, light coating. Use the back of the spoon to spread the chocolate around the sides as well. Essentially, you just want the cup to look like it has a thin coat of chocolate on the bottom and up the sides a little; everything else will get filled in, so no worries. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine peanut butter, vanilla extract, salt and palm sugar. Mix until everything’s smooth and uniform. Even if the chocolate hasn’t hardened yet, spoon a little of the peanut butter mixture into each muffin liner, aiming to plop in enough to fill the liner about 3/4 of the way.
Spoon chocolate over the peanut butter mixture in each liner to the top. Let firm up at room temperature, or you can refrigerate to fully set (*since we made our own peanut butter with peanuts, coconut oil and salt, we found our PB cups do best in the fridge).