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. Make them vegan by choosing dairy free chocolate and vegan sugar, and swapping out the butter for coconut oil. There are lots of possibilities. 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 spice of the Sichuan give them a hint of sophistication, and make for an all-around delicious treat. —Carey Nershi
around 4 dozen
creamy unsalted peanut butter
light brown sugar
coarse sea salt (or more, to taste; I used Sichuan salt)
high-quality chocolate (use milk chocolate if you'd like to truly mimic the classic flavor)
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.
Arrange mini cupcake wrappers on a baking sheet. Pour just enough chocolate in to fill the bottom of the wrapper about 1/8 of an inch. 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.
Transfer the remaining chocolate to your heatproof measuring cup. (If it isn’t as warm/pourable as you’d like, reheat it for a moment or two on the stove top, or for 10–15 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 gal/guy, like me), or let them soften up for about 5 minutes at room temperature.