Candy

How to Make Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

October 23, 2015

I am what you might call a recovering junk food addict—and one that had an especially strong penchant for candy. 

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups on Food52

And while I’ve managed to get my sweet tooth under control in recent years, I still have quite a weakness for homemade versions of classic treats.

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Being able to create them without preservatives or strange ingredients makes this a justifiable weakness, I’d dare say.

Peanut Butter Cups on Food52

Peanut butter cups are one of the simplest sweets to make. There’s no need to fuss with tempering chocolate or tentatively hovering over a pan of scary-hot sugar. All you need is a handful of ingredients (most of which you probably already have in your pantry), some mini cupcake wrappers, a stove (or microwave), and a fridge. Dangerously easy, folks.

You can customize your peanut butter cups in a number of ways: Use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate; sprinkle the tops with a little sea salt or cayenne; or make them vegan by using dairy-free chocolate, vegan sugar, and, instead of butter, coconut oil. 

Peanut Butter Cups on Food52

I opted for a combination of dark and milk chocolate here, and chose an unsalted peanut butter so I could flavor them with Sichuan sea salt. The result: one heck of a peanut butter cup.

The dark chocolate and the floral Sichuan spice give them a hint of sophistication, and make for an all-around delicious treat.

More: Pick up some Sichuan peppercorns and you, too, will feel sophisticated.

Peanut Butter Cups on Food52

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Makes around 4 dozen

1 cup of creamy unsalted peanut butter
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or more, to taste; I used Sichuan salt)
32 ounces high-quality chocolate (use milk chocolate if you really want to mimic the classic flavor)

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups on Food52

Mix together peanut butter, butter, sugars, and salt in a bowl. Taste, then add more salt if needed.

Roughly chop chocolate, then melt it in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat on the stove top (or in 30-second increments in the microwave, stirring in between) until smooth. Transfer half to a heatproof measuring cup. 

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups on Food52

Arrange mini cupcake wrappers on a baking sheet. Pour just enough chocolate in to fill the bottom of the wrapper about 1/8 inch high. Gently lift and drop the tray once or twice to flatten out the chocolate, then place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

While the chocolate is chilling, begin shaping heaping teaspoons of peanut butter filling into discs about the diameter of a quarter and setting them aside on parchment paper.

Remove the chilled chocolate from the fridge, then place each peanut butter disc into a cupcake wrapper.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups on Food52

Transfer the remaining chocolate to your heatproof measuring cup. (If it isn’t as warm or pourable as you’d like, reheat it for a moment or two on the stove top, or for 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave.)

Pour into cupcake wrappers until peanut butter discs are just covered. Once you’ve covered all of them, gently lift and drop the tray again to even out the chocolate, then add more to the wrappers as needed. 

Sprinkle the tops with a little extra coarse sea salt if you like, then place the tray in the fridge for 30 minutes. Eat them straight from the fridge (if you’re a chilled chocolate guy or gal, like me), or let them soften for about 5 minutes at room temperature.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Carey Nershi

48 Comments

vjsoftball November 25, 2016
I found Szechuan Pepper Salt at Penzeys and am wondering if this is similar to the Sichuan Salt you used. Here is a link to the item...<br />https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/szechuan-pepper-salt/c-24/p-447/pd-s<br /><br />I've made the recipe using Penzeys Grey Sea Salt and it was a hit, but I am going to make a test batch with the salt you used if I can find it. Thank you!
 
MaryDD December 2, 2015
I have to say that I have made these multiple times and people just go CRAZY over them. They really aren't that tough to make, just a bit finicky but they seem to get so much credit from people when you make them, they are so blown away. Plus the dark chocolate and the sea salt just elevates everything. I've given them as gifts lots of times and seen many smiling faces in return! Thanks for the recipe.
 
autumngirl December 2, 2015
Would you swap out equal amounts of coconut oil for the butter? Should the coconut oil be solid?
 
Lesley J. October 26, 2015
Is it necessary to use the sugars in the recipe?
 
Andi D. October 28, 2015
It makes the peanut butter pliable! Although i'm used to only using powdered sugar.<br />Don't skimp on the salt! The original reese's are also surprisingly salty.<br />Also I found that using dark chocolate doesn't give you better cups, it tends to overpower the peanutty flavour.<br />I had best results using cheap melting chocolate chips!
 
Brooke B. October 25, 2015
Oh my gosh, I'm not sure a recipe has ever called to me more, Carey! Sichuan sea salt?! Yes, please!
 
Bella B. October 23, 2015
These look good. I have made some before but the recipe was a bit different. Very yummy! I have also made almond joys which are similar but for those that don't like peanut butter.<br />http://xoxobella.com/2015/07/almond-joys/<br /><br />xoxoBella | http://xoxobella.com<br />
 
Peggy B. May 10, 2014
How many Large Medjool dates needed to sub for the sugars? Will the dates alter the pb taste?
 
Gita May 10, 2014
I use "natural" peanut butter (Trader Joe's crunchy unsalted that you has to be stirred) which is too gloppy for discs, so I just spoon little mounds in the middle of the chocolate, & it all seems to flatten out. I recently bought this Wilton funnel ($4.99 at Michael's), & it's sooooo helpful! No more messy spooning--& goes much quicker. It also seems to help the chocolate get all the way around (really hit or miss before this.) Here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-1904-552-Easy-Pour-Funnel/dp/B001689LD2
 
Debbie May 8, 2014
these are yummy- they turned out very good. A little tip= while making the little peanut butter disks, wet your fingers a little before scooping and you'll be able to shape them way easier and make sure you have a little space around the perimeter so the chocolate you put on the top gets all the way around. I feel so much better eating these rather than the store bought- I know exactly what is in them :)
 
Cristina December 13, 2013
I get so confused about the tempering chocolate issue. Do you store them in the fridge b/c of not tempering? Or just a preference? How do these fare if stored at room temp?
 
Gita November 2, 2013
I love eating "deconstructed" peanut butter cups: Just take a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter, drop a few semi-sweet chips into it, & voilà! But I'd love to make these. Already bought the chocolate (Callebaut) & am wondering which type of peanut butter works best--I always buy the "natural" type which has to be stirred first, but would this work better w/ one that has a stabilizer? ~thanks!~
 
Willena P. November 2, 2013
Why use unsalted butter when the recipe includes salt?
 
Stephie G. November 24, 2013
because then it would be far to salty...
 
Willena P. November 24, 2013
It would not be too salty if you used salted butter, then added less salt- or no salt. <br />Wonder whether unsalted butter has other properties.
 
Bryant T. December 22, 2013
I think most recipes I've seen use unsalted butter so that you more directly control the amount of salt used. That's especially important in baking.
 
Fdomeniconi May 7, 2014
Also, salt is a preservative. Salted butter has a longer shelf life than unsalted butter, which means that unsalted butter is typically fresher. By using unsalted butter and adding salt you not only controls the amount of salt (as different butter brands have different amounts of added salt) as you also ensure the fresh butter taste in the final product, which is a must in bakery.
 
ks October 25, 2013
i feel really silly for asking, but what exactly is sichuan sea salt? i'm trying to find places in toronto, canada that sell it but having no luck! is there a substitute you can recommend in order to get the same kind of flavour? thanks!
 
Author Comment
Carey N. October 26, 2013
I get mine from the Season With Spice company: http://www.seasonwithspice.com/products/sea-salt-sichuan-pepper. They do ship to Canada, but the rates might be a bit pricey. Alternatively, you can purchase just the sichuan peppercorns (those would probably be easier to find nearby), grind them with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, and then mix it with sea salt.
 
Catherine W. October 23, 2013
What is the brand of dark and milk chocolate I should be using?
 
Author Comment
Carey N. October 23, 2013
You can use whatever you like, really. (I've seen a number of recipes where people use standard bags of chocolate chips for their peanut butter cups.) Of course the higher the quality of the chocolate the better, but it really all depends on how much you want to spend. I believe you can get bars of Ghirardelli or Lindt chocolate in most grocery stores, and either would work fine. If there happens to be a candy/chocolate shop nearby where you can buy large blocks, then that's even better (and more economical). (I'm lucky enough to live up the road from Lake Champlain Chocolates here in Burlington, which is what I used in this recipe.)
 
loubaby October 21, 2013
These are very similar to those I have made from the blogger browneyedbaker.com....her recipe is excellent and have been making it for years...I will have to try yours and see which one I like better.
 
Debbie May 8, 2014
I loved the browneyedbaker site!! did you decide which one is better??
 
beth Y. October 20, 2013
Never thought to make my own peanut butter cups! You can't find them in Italy and I miss them so much! Thanks!
 
RavensFeast October 20, 2013
When the chocolate sets, does it bloom?
 
Author Comment
Carey N. October 21, 2013
I haven't had an issue with chocolate bloom as long as they're stored in the fridge.
 
Leilad October 20, 2013
I would make it without the sugar, use dates, put the peanut butter and dates thru the processor, no need to use butter. Yum, I like it my way.
 
Author Comment
Carey N. October 21, 2013
Dates as a natural sweetener is a great idea — thanks, Leilad!
 
Leilad October 21, 2013
I would also use the high percentage organic chocolate. So, no butter, sugar, use dates and it is really a healthy treat (:- ) gotta make them.
 
Leilad October 21, 2013
might need to melt a little butter with the chocolate, we'll see.<br />
 
Erinshep October 20, 2013
How long will these last frozen/refrigerated in order to give as gifts?
 
Author Comment
Carey N. October 21, 2013
I would store them for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, or up to a month in the freezer.
 
emcsull October 20, 2013
this takes self-sufficiency to great new heights. Thank you so much, I live in Germany and Reese's are very hard to come by and expensive, and peanut butter cups are one of my favorite things.
 
Author Comment
Carey N. October 21, 2013
I would regularly send care packages to friends in Germany many many years ago, and the most-requested items were American candies (Reese's and Twizzlers, especially). :)