small measures: chocolate peanut-butter cups


I have a long history of dabbling in “healthy” diets. Vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, grain-free, raw — I’ve done them all for varying lengths of time. When I discovered I was pregnant last year (auspiciously, my little man emerged from “the great beyond” on Valentine’s Day!), I just knew I was going to be the healthiest eating mama on the block (well, I live down a dirt road in a forest, so the healthiest mama in my forest!). I planned on gobbling up dark, leafy greens, consuming lots of walnuts and salmon (for neurological development in the wee one), and shunning alcohol and caffeine. For the most part, that all happened, although my midwife told me that the occasional cappuccino would be just fine. Along the way, though, some cravings popped up that surprised me. For starters, I resumed eating poultry after a 14-year hiatus. Second, I craved Coca-Colas like no one’s business, allowing myself the occasional bottle (besides, it was the hottest summer in 50 years). Last, I wanted peanut-butter cups.

That final craving actually occurred after Huxley was born. As this past Halloween crept closer, the drumbeat or siren song or whatever you want to call it for chocolate-covered peanut-butter cups started coming on something fierce. I’ve long learned that, as far as my food cravings go, the best thing to do is just answer them and honor them, and then allow them to move on (or stay, as has been the case with poultry and now, pastured beef). And so, on Halloween, my loving spouse festooned me with several varieties of peanut-butter cups. They were delicious. They were satisfying. They were polished off in no time. And sometimes, just sometimes, I miss them. Like for Valentine’s Day.


In the spirit of honoring that craving and honoring ourselves by listening to our cravings, today’s Small Measures offers up a recipe for making your own chocolate-covered peanut-butter cups (and avoiding the preservatives and additives used in commercially prepared offerings in the process). Had I known when the craving first struck just how easy it is to make these scrumptious morsels, I’d have whipped up a batch then and there (well, maybe not — the baby was only 10 days old then . . . I digress). Using a mere four ingredients, these treats would make an inexpensive yet decadent gift for your loved ones, fellow cubicle-mates or simply yourself. — Ashley

CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!

Chocolate-Covered Peanut-Butter Cups
Yields 12 cups

The Goods

  • 3 cups chocolate*
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup graham crackers, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

*I used bittersweet chocolate chips; feel free to use whatever type of chocolate you like — semi-sweet, milk chocolate or bittersweet. Bars and chips work equally well here, too.

The Deal

1. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Set aside.

2. Melt 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate in a double boiler. Alternately, you could do this using a microwave, melting the chocolate in short bursts. Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the stove and turn off the heat.

3. Using the back of a spoon or a pastry brush, paint a layer of melted chocolate onto the bottoms and sides of the paper liners. Don’t skimp on chocolate here; coat the liners generously. Set the bowl aside with any remaining melted chocolate left in it.

4. Put the muffin pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes while you make the peanut-butter filling.

5. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, crushed graham crackers, powdered sugar and salt. Stir with a spoon until well combined.

6. Return the bowl used to melt the chocolate to the top of the double boiler. Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of chocolate and melt.

7. Meanwhile, divide peanut-butter mixture into 12 even amounts. (I used a cutting board while doing this to have a surface to rest the mounds on.)

8. Remove the muffin pan from the refrigerator. Put one mound into each paper liner. Tap down each mound with your fingertips to “nest” it into the chocolate bottom.

9. By now, the chocolate added to the double boiler should all be melted. Using a spoon, dollop the top of each peanut butter mixture mound with a generous portion of chocolate.

10. Use the back of a teaspoon to smooth out the tops (alternately, use the spoon to make a swirl atop each cup).

11. Place the muffin pan in the refrigerator. Within one hour, your cups should be set, depending how cold your fridge runs.

12. Remove the pan from the refrigerator. Consume with gusto, or exercise extreme restraint and gift to others!

When making these or any chocolate desserts, I like to use fair-trade labeled chocolate. Fair-trade is a social movement and system of exchange that considers all aspects of a commodity’s production, including its producers, consumers, communities and environment. Fair-trade organizations and businesses promote practices such as a living wage for employees, safe working conditions, a fair exchange rate for the goods produced and consideration of local communities and environments. In particular, fair-trade focuses on exports from so-called “developing nations” to those in “developed” countries and involves commodities such as handicrafts, coffee, chocolate, bananas, sugar, tea and wine. To learn more about fair-trade practices, check out Green America. Some of my favorite fair-trade chocolate companies include

What about you? Got any chocolate cravings you plan to indulge this holiday weekend? Beloved chocolate brands? DIY delicacies? I’d love to hear about them. Otherwise, I’ve got a craving to acknowledge . . .

Julie Q

Sounds fantastic! Just wondering if you used natural peanut butter or processed like Jiff?

jess

oh my, these look so yummy. it’s grocery shopping day today, too; looks like I am adding chocolate to my list!

Kirsty

I love peanut butter cups! Will be making these, but can anyone advise what Graham Crackers are? Are they like water biscuit crackers?

Caroline

Did you use a regular Skippy PB, or did you use a peanut-only variety?

I also wonder how this would go with almond butter, or perhaps using a white/dark chocolate mix fo the cup part… Oh my the possibilities!

Christine

Yes yes yes, I LOVE chocolate peanut butter cups but have never made my own. I’m putting these on the Valentine’s Day menu… STAT. Maybe before dinner, even. Thanks for the recipe!

Kirsty

Ahh, digestive biscuits as alternative.
Thank you Grace!

I don’t supposed you read the history part of that link?!!

ashley english

julie q & caroline-i used a natural peanut butter, but it had palm oil and sea salt in it, to make it super creamy. in fact, it’s whole foods “365” organic creamy peanut butter. the addition of palm oil renders it as creamy and smooth as brands like jiff and skippy.

kirsty-digestive biscuits would work equally as well as graham crackers. in the recipe, they serve more of a textural function than a flavor one, imbuing the cups with a bit of crispness, just as crushed digestive biscuits would do.

Holly

Ashley–these looks insanely good! And the graham crackers–what a great idea. Thanks for the inspiration!

joanne

can’t wait to make these!! quick question… what size are these pb cups? are these made in regular cupcake size or smaller? thanks!

ashley english

joanne-i used standard-sized cupcake liners. they’re not jumbo, nor are they minis. they’re the typical liners used in making cupcakes and muffins with, i believe, a circumference of 2 inches.

Lisa

design*sponge gets better and tastier every day. :) thanks for this most perfect recipe…i want to try this with heart shaped cupcakes liners for valentines day!

cjm

I totally craved peanut butter cups while pregnant, too. Almost 3 weeks post-delivery, I still feel like I need one sometimes. This recipe is fantastic timing.

Rachel

I took one look at this recipe and started throwing the ingredients together. An instant favorite.

I used a small spatula to spread the chocolate into mini baking cup liners.

I substituted gluten free corn cereal granola for the graham crackers (my roomie can’t have gluten), and I threw all of the peanut butter goodness into my food processor to crush/mix in no time.

Thank you Ashley! Brilliant!

Cassie

This is trouble. I was just watching “Wrapped” I think, lastnight, and they were showing how some other old candy bar is made the same way–in the muffin tin. Looks like a fun project and treat! Thanks for sharing.

karen brown

yeah for fair trade! thanks for mentioning it and helping others become aware of how our purchases can be good news to the farmers who grew them!

jenni o

good lord. this is basically my buckeye recipe but in muffin cups. Don’t know why I didn’t think of this before! peanut butter and chocolate is THE best combo on the planet.

NatureGirl

Green and Black’s 80% is my one true love…Sometimes I use the bar to scoop the peanut butter…now I won’t have to!

Gianna

Oh! The recipe looks divine. I really needed to read the bit about honoring your cravings. I had a babe this summer and I’ve got some intense cravings these days – chocolate and sweets are at the top of the list. Thanks.

Claire

Yummy! I’ve made chocolate peanut butter cups before and definitely vote for using the best chocolate you can find/afford. I prefer using using mini muffin liners because it makes the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter in each bite more balanced. I might have to make these for my partner’s birthday — he was born on Valentine’s Day too!

bb.

These look wonderful. And what a great idea to use grahams in your PB mixture, too. I’m going to remember that one!

I’m really curious about the chocolate you used, though. It appears that you were able to use it without tempering–and without bloom. I would be thrilled to skip the tempering step every time, so I’d love to know which chocolate you used specifically. That would like magic!

Best–

bb.

ashley english

claire-yes, mini chocolate peanut butter cups would be equally scrumptious!

oh, and by writing “emerged from ‘the great beyond'”, i was actually looking for a euphemism for, ahem, “conceived” on valentine’s day. huxley was born this past october 21st.

Kristina

This sounds great! :) is any salt okay to use, or should i use sea salt? Would it taste any different?

Sonja B.

I love you guys for posting this! I never would have thought how easy these would be to make — and they are my husband’s favorites. Just in time for Valentine’s Day. You rock.

Kate

To measure the “1 cup chocolate,” do you go by volume (chop the chocolate to measure) up OR do you go by the weight (2 4oz bars)?

Just wondering. Thanks.

ashley english

bb-I used Dagoba organic chocolate chips that I had on hand. I’ve also used Ghiradelli before. I elected to skip the tempering process since, in the finished product, I’m not looking for either a “snap” or a “gloss”, both of which are achieved through tempering but aren’t needed in a peanut butter cup

Kristina-I always use sea salt in all of my cooking, so I listed it, but you could certainly use a different salt, if you’d prefer.

Kate-You can go by the weight. So, if you come across, say, an 11.5 ounce bar, just consider that to be right under 1 1/2 cups.

Holly

Thanks for sharing this! I now have the perfect thoughtful, romantic, and CHEAP V-day gift!

(Plus, I LOVE that you hear a “siren song” for PB cups – accurate.)

sarah

What kind of chocolate goes best with Macadamia nut butter?! I’m making them for someone who has a nut allergy to everything except that!

Katherine @ Dexter & Dinah

I’m not a huge peanut butter and chocolate fan, but this looks delicious even to me! I’m thinking I might try swapping out the peanut butter for another nut butter – never thought to add the Graham crackers! Thanks for the wonderful idea!

Jenn

I use a similar recipe from Sarah Kramers cookbook How It All Vegan; if I don’t feel like dealing with muffin liners I used a graham cracker pie crust and pour all the chocolate and peanut butter in at once. If I’m feeling spicy, I add a little cayenne to the chocolate. Makes a great bribe/gift/treat!

Jessica

Thanks for this wonderufl recipe! I loughed a lot about the story behind it. Thank you for sharing it and the good start in the day I got :-)

Sabina

I cannot wait. We live in Hong Kong where we cant get Reeses PB cups, and when visualizing this recipe, i’m seeing a GIANT oversized springform tin mega peanut butter cup. MMMM! Thank you!

Shelley

Yum! I want to make giant sized ones…This is really simple, too! I thought it would be more involved. Thank you for the tutorial!

Julia

I just made these for my peanut-loving husband for an early Valentine’s Day treat. Yum! They are delicious!

I used natural peanut butter, a mix of dark and milk chocolate and digestive biscuit (haven’t found graham crackers in the UK). Seriously good!

Chelsey

I just made these and they are setting in my fridge right now! My husband is watching the timer waiting until he can try one. I used dark (fair trade) chocolate and creamy natural peanut butter. I found that a small spoon worked better for me for the ‘painting’ part. I also used smaller paper cups that made around 30 of these.

Rachel

I didn’t have graham crackers so used Crisp rice cereal all ground up instead and it worked great.

Alyssa

I just made these, and they are amazing! The only thing is that I used regular sized muffin cups, and I found them to be a bit big.

Michelle

I just made these, too! Can barely wait to try them. Thanks so much!

Angela

I think it is that first picture that gets you, you just want to pick it up and eat it! We don’t have graham crackers in new zealand so will have to try with digestives too. Thx for the post!

Tracey

Sarah, I like the idea of using macadamia butter. Macadamias go well with white chocolate, or would be delicious with milk chocolate if you prefer. My youngest son is allergic to peanuts so I’m planning to try hazelnut butter, or the macadamia option as an alternative.

liz

Well…now I know what I’m making before my boyfriend gets home tomorrow! So easy and so yummy!

Natalie

Im making them just now!! thanks for the recipe it looks pretty tasty!
my bf actually loves reeses and i didnt think about making them before!!

nice valentine´s day idea !!

Frankie

I just made a half batch. Wow – are these good! Easy to make, too.

Kelly

love it! anything that’s simple is usually awesome and who can refuse peanut butter and chocolate?

Julia

Just made these for my man for V-Day. We are both huge fans of the chocolate/peanut butter marriage.

Being that we are Americans currently living in Australia, and Reese’s cups are hard to come by, I thought these would be a perfect Valentine’s surprise! Graham crackers also don’t exist here is Aus, so I crumbled up some shortbread cookies as a sub. YUM!

Aimee

I just made a batch for Valentines for my husband and they turned out great:) Thanks for the recipe! I have a question about storage though-do these need to be kept in the fridge or is room temperature alright?

Rose

Hello – I’m London based and just wanted to check that powdered sugar is what we call icing sugar?
They look fabulous so def want to have a go!

ashley english

aimee-I’ve been storing mine in the fridge, simply because I didn’t know how long it would take me to get through all of them (as it turns out, I decided to give away most of them, to friends for Valentine’s Day as well as to my husband’s Scrabble club, for snacking on during their game yesterday). Storing them in the fridge does, however, make them rather hard, so allow them to come to room temp. before trying to bite into them. Storing at room temp. would be fine, as well, permitted you planned to consume them within several days.

rose-Indeed, our powdered sugar is your icing sugar!

selena

Thanks for the delicious recipe! our first baby is due tomorrow(ish) so it’s perfect timing. It’ll definitely will be satisfying the cravings, although licking the spoon during prep time is not bad either. I added a bit of organic vanilla to the chocolate as well – adds a bit of homemade flavour to the mix.

Stephanie

I made these & they’re delicious! The friends & co-workers are happy to take the extras. :) I should have used more peanut butter, though – the chocolate on top turned out way too thick!

Kelsey

Wow do these look incredible, and I was even happier to see the shout-out to fair trade chocolate! Thanks for using this platform to talk about such an important issue, and one that we have so much power to impact!

Daniela Exley

These sound divine!!! I’m off to make some! Just what’s needed on a rainy day like today, activity with the kids. Thanks x

liz

…seriously, posting again because I just finished them and taste-tested my first cup! I’m never buying store-bought pb cups ever again. Soooo good and so easy.

Sarah

WOW. These are incredible and so very simple to make. I made them for my husband for our 10 year anniversary as peanut butter is the thing he loves most in the whole world.
I agree with what someone else said though – they are a bit full on in full size muffin cases! I made another batch last night in mini ones and it makes about 40 of them, I think they’re much more suited for a bite size morsel.
Thanks for sharing it!

Brittany

I will never eat a Reese’s again. I made them in miniature size with mostly semi-sweet chocolate and about 2 oz unsweetened. It was just the right amount of sweetness for me. Since I’m gluten free, I decided to use up some rice crackers instead of graham crackers. Worked like a charm thanks to a food processor. And…they taste just fine without the powdered sugar, in case anyone was wondering. God only knows why I “forgot” the bag of sugar was right there on the counter as I was making them, but the cups have survived the experience. Yum!

Cassie

I added a thin layer of Nutella between the peanut butter and chocolate… Amazing!!!

Jacqueline

I LOVE peanut butter cups and I think this is going to be a recipe for in a few days when a massive chocolate attack will hit. I may use honey for the sugar but other than that…. I’m in!

Kat

Thanks for the recipe! I love chocolate and am trying to be more aware of where it comes from. Just fyi, Dagoba is owned by Hersheys. I stick to Theos, etc. Thanks again!

Nickie Frye

I just made something similar, but instead of peanut butter cups I made bars. It’s pretty much the same recipe, just substitute dark brown sugar for the crushed graham crackers. Mix the peanut butter mixture & line the bottom of an 8″x8″ pan with it. Simply pour the melted chocolate over the top, refrigerate, & cut into triangles when the chocolate is hardened. AMAZING. I used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate bars & organic unsweetened peanut butter. If you’re in a hurry, the bars are super easy & they satisfy the same craving. They look great served on a pretty plate.

Joannie

I am excited to make these as a part of a wedding gift for my best friend. I have some heart-shaped silicon ice cube trays that I want to use as a mold. Do you think if I chilled them long enough the cups would pop out of the molds easily? Or are the muffin liners necessary?

Tarrah

Made these, loved these! I made them in mini muffin pans and people since they are so rich and people seemed to love the idea:)

Camille

Is it possible to not even use graham crackers? we never have them in my house!

Barb

Cocoa camino is both fair trade and organic chocolate and my fave. They also make hot chocolate mixes and cocoa powder

kim

thank you! I just made these in bite size portions!!! and put the flowers out of molding chocolate on top!!!

Sara

I just made these for Easter and they are phenomenal! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe — it’s going in my permanent rotation of holiday treats.

Deborah

I have been doing these for years, and the kids love it… It is a tradition at our house for all parties and events…..

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