Probably the only things I ever coveted from the kids' Halloween reserves were Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. And while there are much worse things we can eat, did you ever consider what the heck is TBHQ? TBHQ (tert-butylhydroquinone) is the second to last ingredient listed, a chemical and preservative that you may also find in paints, varnishes, and skincare products. The interesting thing about TBHQ is that there are negative studies that show TBHQ can cause enlarged liver, neurotoxic effects, seizures, increased cancer risk, and paralysis in laboratory animals. And yet other studies suggest therapeutic potential with this same chemical. I'm choosing to err on the side of caution here - making your own version of chocolate peanut (or any nut/seed of your liking) cups is super easy and fun.
The key to an awesome nut butter cup is starting off with dark chocolate - the darker (highest percent cocoa) the better. Cocoa contains a host of antioxidants and cannabinoids that have a wide range of health benefits including anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular support, cognitive function, mood, metabolism, satiety, and more. I tend to combine bars and come out around 83% average cocoa content.
For nut butters, choose organic. You can go all-in with your favorite nut butter or combine several for your center cream. I like peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini combined, but in these pictures, I just used peanut butter and raw almond butter. Best if you get the kind without added sugar, salt, or oil.
For starters, you can line a mini-muffin pan with parchment liners or silicone liners.
If preferred you can use dark chocolate chips, but I like to just break apart the chocolate bars - usually, about 3 bars is plenty - about 9 ounces. Since I don't have a microwave, I melt the chocolate on the stovetop with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, stirring frequently over low heat so nothing gets scorched. When the chocolate mixture is fully melted and shiny I remove it from the heat and place it in a bowl (using a scraper to get all of the melted chocolate out of the pot). Allow that to cool down just a tad, like 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, you'll use about 1/2 cup total of nut butter. Cream it together so it's really nice and even textured (best done with room temperature nut butter). Add about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon (or less) of maple syrup or honey. Mix very well. Optional, add a dash of salt. Refrigerate or freeze this mixture for about 10 minutes.
Now you should be ready to start the production. I think it's easy to add the chocolate to the bottom of each liner until they are all full - about a tablespoon of chocolate. Chill in the refrigerator about ten minutes. Remove the nut butter and chocolate from the refrigerator.
Use about 2 teaspoons of nut butter per cup and place it in the center of the cup. You may need to gently pat it down. Top the nut butter with about 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate so the nut butter is mostly covered. Optional - sprinkle with coarse sea salt or naturally colored sprinkles and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or until totally firm.
These make super cute gifts or just a healthier treat when you've got that serious craving.