pumpkin spice peanut butter cups
Happy Halloween! This festive day may be here, but it's not too late to whip up a batch of these scrumptious trick-or-treat classics. Not only do they come together in less than an hour; these little cups are packed with antioxidant-rich cacao and just enough pumpkin spice flavor to capture the spirit of the season without overwhelming the peanut buttery goodness within. (Not a pumpkin fan? Use a half-batch of the "dough" from this recipe, sans peanuts, for a classic peanut butter cup experience!)
Speaking of Halloween spirits... well, the topic of ghosting, specifically... apologies that I have been AWOL for the better part of this month. As I wrote in my last post, my work and personal life have me traveling a lot, and this combined with extra responsibilities and tasks put my focus away from VLGL in so many ways. I've barely been home with time to cook much of anything besides Trader Joe's frozen veggie dumplings (I LOVE DUMPLINGS), and sitting in front of the computer for any extra time has been feeling like the opposite of self-care.
For the sake of realness, I confess that due to a work trip being re-routed home through Paris -- giving my husband and me a few unexpected days in that magical city -- Sober October was a failure. No drunkenness, that's not my style these days, but enjoying the pleasure that is French wine in its homeland is not often an opportunity in my life. This experience really did highlight the power of a "detox," because once my consciously booze-free streak was broken, even back in the US, I found myself not bothering to pass up that free champagne my mom got at a restaurant or the margarita from the batch my dear friend painstakingly hand-mixed for a birthday party, though I haven't had a single drink at home or outside a celebratory social occasion. Ah well. This sort of constant uncertainty in my life is the reason I try to refrain from making blanket statements, though it did highlight that alcohol just isn't a big deal to me right now, in either direction.
I can't promise that the realities of my life as a solo attorney with the holidays approaching will allow me to get back to weekly posting -- as much as I did enjoy living out that particular blanket statement -- but this season has brought me so many delicious, cozy recipe ideas. In particular, I'll soon be posting a recipe inspired by the surprise time in Paris, so check back often!
Now... back to the peanut butter cups! This recipe contemplates an especially cacao-rich dark chocolate base to balance the sweetness of the filling, but if you desire a classic "milk" chocolate experience (like that one brand many of us grew up with), I suggest doubling this milk chocolate recipe. Another variation, should you desire: as you can see, I like to have a little bit of the filling poking out of the top, because I like a whimsical "swirl" effect... if that's not your style, simply alter the first step to put only one teaspoon of chocolate in the bottom of the cups.
Finally, if you make chocolates often, I've been really happy that I invested in silicone muffin liners some years ago. They reduce waste, cost little, are steady without taking up my whole fridge with a muffin pan, and are super easy to clean... however, regular muffin liners should work if you're not feeling it. Just thought I'd share.
Now, let's make these peanut butter cups so we can get them in our bellies!
RECIPE: Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cups
☼ For the chocolate:
- 1 cup raw cacao butter
- 1 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/8 teaspoon pure stevia powder (or a pinch more to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder OR vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
☼ For the filling:
- 1/2 cup creamy OR crunchy peanut butter (creamy pictured here)
- 5 tablespoons dark agave nectar
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée
- 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I use this one)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/16 teaspoon vanilla bean powder OR vanilla extract
- Prepare your liners by placing them in a muffin pan or atop a large plate.
- Make a double boiler by filling a small pot or saucepan about 1/3 of the way full with water and placing a large mixing bowl on top. Listen for the water to boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Melt the cacao butter in the double boiler until completely liquified. Remove from the heat, and whisk in all other chocolate ingredients.
- Carefully place 2 teaspoons of the chocolate mixture into each liner. Place in the refrigerator to harden (about 15 minutes, depending on your fridge).
- While the chocolate hardens, pour the water out of your double boiler pot to use for the filling (unless your home is freezing or there is going to be a serious lag between steps, in which cases you may need to re-melt the chocolate).
- Over low heat, mix all filling ingredients until completely combined. Taste and adjust for seasonings, if desired.
- Remove the filling from the heat source, and allow to cool to just warmer than room temperature.
- Once the chocolate is hardened and the filling is cooled, divide the filling evenly between the cups, and spoon the remaining chocolate over the tops until the filling is covered in each cup.
- Place in the fridge to harden.
Serve with Halloweeny love!