Thai Peanut Butter Cups

By • February 15, 2012 81 Comments

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Author Notes: Take your favorite spicy Thai peanut butter sauce and put it in a chocolate candy cup and voila: two great tastes that taste *really* great together (to coin a phrase). We make these every year with our collection of holiday confections and they're a big hit with grown ups and kids alike despite the heat and spice. Part of its appeal is the excitement of seeing something that looks familiar, but then being surprised by the decadent, mischievous filling. I admit, it's a little bit of work, but for such tasty results, I think you can make the time.

You'll wind up with more filling than you need for 36 cups, but once you taste the filling, I don't think you'll have trouble thinking of ways to eat it.

Food52 Review: WHO: vrunka lives in Portland, OR and blogs at
WHAT: Homemade peanut butter cups that put Reese's to shame with a complex base of Thai flavors.
HOW: You infuse coconut milk with all your favorite curry flavors: galangal, lime zest, lemongrass, and Thai chilis. But the similarities end there -- the strained milk is blended with peanut butter and piped into tiny chocolate cups.
WHY WE LOVE IT: These treats are definitely for grown-ups! Not-too-sweet and with a hint of spice, we'll never turn to the storebrought stuff again.
The Editors

Makes 36 cups

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, cut into 2-inch segments and bruised with the back of a knife
  • 4 large coins galangal, bruised with the back of a knife
  • 3-5 Thai chilis
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest, grated
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 pounds bittersweet chocolate
  • 36 small candy cups
  • 36 small strips of candied ginger (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts (optional)
  1. In a small sauce pan, bring the coconut milk to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the lemon grass, galangal, chilis and lime zest. Muddle the spices with the back of a spoon. Continue to simmer very low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and strain out the solids.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, coconut milk and lime juice. Mix thoroughly and spoon into a piping bag. Place the bag in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until it solidifies slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the chocolate into chunks. You may temper the chocolate for a nice, finished look. For directions on how to do that, see David Liebowitz’s website. You may also simply melt the chocolate by placing it in a large bowl and microwaving it for 30 seconds at a time. Stir well between each round in the microwave.
  4. Once the chocolate is ready, prepare your chocolate cups. Keep all the cups in a stack, but loosen the top one. With a pastry brush (silicone works great), coat the inside of the cup with melted chocolate. Set aside and continue doing the same with all of the cups. Whatever chocolate is leftover, set aside and you can retemper (or just remelt) for the topping later.
  5. Once the chocolate in the cups has hardened, take your peanut butter mixture and pipe it into the cups, leaving about ¼ inch at the top. Remelt or retemper the chocolate and either put it in another piping bag or leave it in the bowl. Top the candy cups by piping the chocolate in a spiral from the outside in. Or you can simply spoon the chocolate from the bowl and gently spread it over the tops of the cups.
  6. You may optionally top each cup with a roasted peanut and a sliver of candied ginger. Drop them on the top while the chocolate on top is still melted so that they’ll stick.
  7. These peanut cups are considerably creamier than the store-bought kind so it’s best to eat them in a single bite. They’ll keep for a couple days in a cool, dark place (they’ll last a bit longer in the fridge).

More Great Recipes: Chocolate|Candy|Coconut

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Comments (81) Questions (2)


over 1 year ago EGlove

Can you make these cups ahead of time and freeze them?


over 1 year ago Gaia Goodness Natural Foods

Wow! This sounds amazing and delicious. What a creative combination. When I try this recipe I think I'll swap the sugar for coconut sap and see what happens.


about 2 years ago kmpmilano

Oh great, just what I need: another addiction.
I only had big cups and the result was about 15 or so. I can see how bite-size would be better cos the big ones were pretty intense. Plus my galangal was ancient and I toned down the chili cos not everyone in my house is a spicy fan. They were still fantastic; I'm looking forward to making them again with a bit more heat and some fresh galangal.


over 2 years ago Burf

These are awesome! I had an eye on a 9-week old pup, so my coconut milk mixture stayed on the heat a little longer, but it made the PB filling a little firmer than was probably intended. FANTASTIC. I used the mini liners because it's what I had. The hardest part was painting the bottom chocolate on those little buggers, but it was a small price to pay. I'll definitely make these again.


over 2 years ago vrunka

SO glad you enjoyed them! I agree that it's kind of a pain to paint the little cups. I've learned that the key to making it less tedious is to keep the cups in a stack (for structure) and to really get a lot of chocolate on the brush so that you can "paint" the bottom and sides in one big swirl.


over 2 years ago ThereseTetzel

Instead of making cups could you make the filling into truffles and dunk them into chocolate?


over 2 years ago vrunka

Hi Therese, The filling on these is quite soft so I don't think that would work. But I have experimented with adding melted white chocolate to the mix -- this makes it firm enough to cut when it's cooled, but does dull the flavor a little. I've also thought about adding coconut oil to get it to set up more, but haven't experimented with that yet. If you do try dipping the centers, let me know how it goes!


almost 2 years ago Eva



over 2 years ago RavensFeast

It's worth mentioning that these are made by a beloved Portland chocolatier called Alma Chocolates. Sarah's known for her Thai Peanut Butter Cups: http://www.almachocolate...


over 2 years ago vrunka

Hi RavensFeast -- I've seen Alma's version, but I've never tried them. I'm sure they must be awesome, though, because all their chocolates are!


about 2 years ago kmpmilano

Ooh, I do like the idea of a little sea salt on top. I'm a bit of a sucker for adding salty to sweet.


almost 3 years ago Cinnamin

Lemongrass and chocolate- who'd a thunk it? Now my Reese's Peanut Butter cups just look boring.


over 3 years ago midnitechef

Congrats on winning with a family favorite ;)


over 3 years ago broccolirose

Natalie is a recipe tester for Food52.

Added bonus- these are vegan!


over 3 years ago vrunka

yes, indeed!


over 3 years ago vvvanessa

Deee-licious! As a close relative, I claim first dibs on all future batches of Thai Peanut Butter Cups!


over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

These have a great blend of sweet and savory with a nice little kick from the spices. I claim second dibs!!


over 3 years ago lapadia

I claim long distance dibs!!! :)


over 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Leaving me with.....distance-cannot-separate-a-girl-and-her-food dibs! I'm in what :-)


over 3 years ago vrunka

haha! Looks like I need to buy some stamps! Kitchen Butterfly, you're in NIgeria?! You should be able to get some great local (or local-ish) peanut butter and chocolate!


over 3 years ago lakelurelady

Congrats vrunka! Brilliant recipe.


over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Huge congrats vrunka! These look so yummy!


over 3 years ago Marlin Darlin

Congrats! this is the bomb! Can't wait to try these.


over 3 years ago Midge

Congrats vrunka!! A brilliant recipe and well-deserved win!


over 3 years ago Panfusine

YAAY!! COngratulations Vrunka!


over 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congrats Vrunks, love the Thai flavors in these.


over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Congrats, vrunka!


over 3 years ago NakedBeet

Look forward to making these—love the lemongrass and thai flavor angle!


over 3 years ago vincentinparis

Ohmygosh, the filling is really tasty. I had to substitute kaffir lime leaves for the lime zest, but I think I have been faithful to the spirit of the original recipe.

I now have a bag of it waiting in my fridge, ready to be piped as soon as I can get my hands on some chocolate. I am just hoping that I don't suck it all right out of the bag before then.


over 3 years ago vrunka

can't wait to hear how they turn out!


over 3 years ago Nico-Nico

These look so great, but I have one question. Does the peanut butter need to be commercial peanut butter that doesn't separate like Jiffy or can natural peanut butter be used?


over 3 years ago vrunka

Hi Nicole. I've used natural peanut butter and it's fine. You may get a little separation, but these are meant to be eaten in one bite so it doesn't really matter. They also don't keep for terribly long -- but that's not usually a problem!


over 3 years ago vrunka

Hi Nicole. I've used natural peanut butter and it's fine. You may get a little separation, but these are meant to be eaten in one bite so it doesn't really matter. They also don't keep for terribly long -- but that's not usually a problem!