Thursday, January 14, 2016

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups, because my New Year's resolution is "more chocolate," apparently

When I was little I was in a bowling league. I was terrible, yet it was still probably the peak of my athleticism (I apparently did not take after my Papa, a pro bowler who you can see throwing an epic strike here).

The best part of practice was getting a snack from the vending machine (see above review of my athletic career, ahem). My parents weren't the type to feed us candy for any old reason, so getting 50 cents from my dad and running to the vending machine with my sister to pick out anything we wanted was like hitting the kid lottery.

We'd pore over the options (Twix were a fave, as were Rolos), but inevitably I'd settle on the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I'd let them warm up a bit, then try to poke out the center of the candy while leaving the ring of chocolate around the edge in-tact.

Imagine my HORROR when, as an adult, I tried to take a trip down memory lane only to realize that it was impossible to perform my old trick, and that the candy itself didn't live up to my memory. The chocolate was sweet and waxy, the peanut butter dry and grainy.

Now that I eat vegan, Justin's Peanut Butter cups are a fave, but they're a little pricey. So, I set out to make a vegan peanut butter cup that could stand up to my childhood dreams while catering to my ~refined~ adult tastes (so says the Earth Balance vegan cheddar puffs addict).

Sure, you can't poke the middle out of these bad boys, but that's because they're made with a thick, solid layer of dark chocolate. Likewise, the peanut butter within is ooey-gooey in the best possible way, an explosion of peanut flavor as soon as your teeth break through the intensely chocolatey shell.

These vegan peanut butter cups make great gifts, too - if you manage not to eat them all as soon as they cool.

Best of all, there's barely a recipe. Melt chocolate, add peanut butter, the end. Satisfying your slightly refined adult sweet tooth doesn't get easier.

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups

6 oz bittersweet vegan chocolate chips*
1/2 Cup all-natural peanut butter
Honey (optional)
12 Mini muffin liners
Metal mini muffin tin, refrigerated for 1 hour
Flaked sea salt, optional

1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Cook on high 45 seconds. Check to see if any of the chips are melting yet, and give them a stir. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring after each, until the chocolate is fully melted, smooth and glossy.

2. Drizzle or spoon the melted chocolate into the lined mini-muffin tin, filling each liner about 1/4 of the way up. The cold mini muffin tray may make the chocolate solidify almost immediately - if not, place the tray in the fridge until the chocolate is solid.

3. Microwave about 1/2 cup peanut butter until it's smooth and spreadable. It shouldn't be liquid, just soft enough to work with easily - this could take as little as 20-30 seconds. If you want the peanut butter to be a little sweet, add honey to taste.

4. Remove the mini muffin tray from the fridge. Spoon a dollop of peanut butter (1/2-1 tsp) in each one, leaving some chocolate showing on every side of the peanut butter.

5. Refrigerate again, for about 30 min.

6. Re-melt the chocolate, using the same method as before. Then, spoon chocolate onto the peanut butter dollops in the mini muffin tin. You want the tops of your peanut butter cups to be almost flat, not just bulging with peanut butter covered by a very thin layer of chocolate (see my pictures for what NOT to do, oops). But don't stress about making them perfect - these will taste great either way.

7. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired (a must, in my opinion!). Return to fridge to harden, then enjoy. These are best kept in the fridge, unless you have a super cold kitchen.

* 6 oz will make more melted chocolate than you need for this recipe, but working with a smaller quantity can truly be a pain in the ass. I just made extra, and used the rest to make chocolate-covered strawberries and orange segments.

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