Thai Peanut Butter Cups

February 15, 2012
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 12 minutes
  • Makes 36 cups
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. —vrunka

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 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 Thai chilis (up to 5, to taste)
  • 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).
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83 Reviews

lbn March 6, 2023
These were delicious! I did it a bit differently-- I don't like the pre-made chocolate cups, so I just piped a thin layer of melted chocolate in the bottom of a mini muffin liner, let it chill, piped in some of the filling, and then piped some more chocolate on top. I went easy with the chocolate, so it was more of a squiggle on top than a full layer. This made them more like a layered treat rather fully enclosed in chocolate, but who cares. :)

HMart was also out of galangal :) so I just used regular ginger. I forgot to buy chiles, but I bet they would have added a nice kick. I did try throwing in a teaspoon of red pepper flakes but that didn't do much. Altogether definitely a make again!
judy November 29, 2022
I went with a modified version of this recipe: Thai curry paste mixed into crunchy peanut butter with some tamarind and palm sugar or white sugar or brown sugar. A bit of Olek Sambal to add some heat. Chopped candied ginger, and mixed it all together with some coconut milk and a little flour to give it structure. Allowed to sit for about half an hour. I just put it into a jar. When I wanted a treat I spread on some nice lightly toasted seeded bread, sprinkled with cocoa powder and granulated sugar! So good, and not the fuss of using melted chocolate. Also, I call This my Thai peanut butter. and it keeps in the fridge. There is only me and a cup of it will last about a month! Variations on the theme are pretty easy, depending on what I have in my [pantry. This recipe has expanded my idea of peanut butter,, and I make an Indian version with Indian curry and cumin that is also amazing. Thank you for the inspiration.!
susan G. November 29, 2022
How about submitting your PB-Coconut butters as recipes on the site? It looks like you've created excellent new recipes. Just credit Vrunka for the 'inspiration.'
EGlove May 12, 2014
Can you make these cups ahead of time and freeze them?
Gaia G. April 21, 2014
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.
kmpmilano June 8, 2013
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.
Burf February 9, 2013
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.
vrunka February 9, 2013
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.
ThereseTetzel December 30, 2012
Instead of making cups could you make the filling into truffles and dunk them into chocolate?
vrunka January 2, 2013
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!
Eva October 19, 2013
RavensFeast December 30, 2012
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:
vrunka January 2, 2013
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!
kmpmilano June 8, 2013
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.
Cinnamin September 9, 2012
Lemongrass and chocolate- who'd a thunk it? Now my Reese's Peanut Butter cups just look boring.
midnitechef April 3, 2012
Congrats on winning with a family favorite ;)
broccolirose March 4, 2012
Added bonus- these are vegan!
vrunka March 6, 2012
yes, indeed!
vvvanessa March 3, 2012
Deee-licious! As a close relative, I claim first dibs on all future batches of Thai Peanut Butter Cups!
hardlikearmour March 4, 2012
These have a great blend of sweet and savory with a nice little kick from the spices. I claim second dibs!!
lapadia March 4, 2012
I claim long distance dibs!!! :)
Kitchen B. March 6, 2012
Leaving me with.....distance-cannot-separate-a-girl-and-her-food dibs! I'm in what :-)
vrunka March 6, 2012
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!
lakelurelady March 1, 2012
Congrats vrunka! Brilliant recipe.
fiveandspice February 29, 2012
Huge congrats vrunka! These look so yummy!
Janet H. February 29, 2012
Congrats! this is the bomb! Can't wait to try these.
Midge February 29, 2012
Congrats vrunka!! A brilliant recipe and well-deserved win!
Panfusine February 29, 2012
YAAY!! COngratulations Vrunka!
AntoniaJames February 29, 2012
Congrats, vrunka!
NakedBeet February 28, 2012
Look forward to making these—love the lemongrass and thai flavor angle!
vincentinparis February 28, 2012
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.
vrunka February 28, 2012
can't wait to hear how they turn out!