Monday, September 19, 2016

Staving off My Sweet Tooth: Healthy(er) Peanut Butter Cups

You may have noticed that a significant number of recipes on this blog are of the sugar variety. I definitely have a sweet tooth. I like my muffins, coffeecakes, cookies, tortes, cupcakes…even candied bacon!

I’ve never been a junk food addict. I don’t down Coke every day, rarely eat at a fast food restaurant, don’t decimate a bag of chips in one sitting (like Mr. B), and rarely buy packaged or prepared cookies, candy, cakes or ice cream.

But I do bake. A lot. Unfortunately, as the years creep up on me, I just can’t have those temptations around. I still bake for Sunday dinners when the family is here, for special occasions, for friends. It’s just not enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

So what’s a girl to do???

I’ve been hunting around for something that is small in size, easy to prepare and that has less guilt attached to it (healthier), while at the same time able to provide me a satisfying sweet treat.

I found a recipe online for a paleo Reese’s Cup. It’s basically a nut butter cup with dark chocolate on top. I’ve been experimenting with the base recipe for a few weeks now, adding and subtracting unsweetened shredded coconut, using all almond butter, using a mix of almond and peanut butters, trying different chocolates, even using different pans.

I’ve finally hit upon the right combination of ingredients—and the right vessel to put them in—and it’s time to share the recipe with you.

I have to say that I really love these. I keep them in the freezer and take one out when I am in need of a sugar fix, usually at 2 or 3 in the afternoon and around 8 or 9 at night. They weigh in at under 100 calories a piece but also have some protein, given the quantity of nut butters. They are good for a paleo diet, low-carb diet, Atkins, etc. They are also gluten free and, if you use the right chocolate, dairy free.

I particularly like this combination of ingredients and have adjusted the amounts so that when frozen, the nut base doesn’t get all soft and gooey while the chocolate is harder than a rock. I found the best peanut/almond butter combo to be Trader Joe’s Creamy Almond Butter and Jif Extra Chunky Peanut Butter. For the top, I just use a thin layer of chocolate—Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels are great—but you can go thicker if you want. You can also omit the coconut, as it acts more as a sweetener and to add some bulk to the candy.

Note: I originally used mini muffin pans for these. No grease necessary, just fill and freeze and then pop them out as needed. Now I use silicone mini muffin cup molds. I place them on a tray, fill and freeze. Once frozen, I put them in a Ziploc in the freezer. They pop out really easy and I get about 2 dozen this way. They are slightly smaller than the muffin pan I was using, and the perfect size for me.

Nut Butter and Chocolate Treats

½ cup smooth almond butter
½ cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, minced
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips (you can also chop up bar chocolate)
1 teaspoon coconut oil

Put your nut butters, coconut oil and honey in a glass bowl or measuring cup and microwave until mixable, about 30-45 seconds. Stir or whisk until the mixture is creamy. Add minced coconut and stir to incorporate.

Using a small ice cream scoop, ladle or tablespoon, fill your mini muffin cups about 2/3 full. Gently bang your muffin pan or tray on the counter to level the ingredients.

Place the chocolate and teaspoon of coconut oil in a glass measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave
a second time for about 20-30 seconds. Stir until the mixture is creamy.

Pour the mixture on top of the nut cups, starting at the outside edge and moving in. When done, gently bang the pan or tray again to even out the chocolate.

Yield: 2 dozen

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