Peanut butter is my Achilles heel. It’s my weakness, my downfall, my greatest temptation. It is like crack to me, the more I have, the more I want. An open jar of peanut butter in the cupboard is a cruel torment, and I often have to physically restrain myself from digging in a spoon for yet another taste. This is only more true since I developed diabetes, since compared to other sugar-laden snacks, peanut butter is a relatively harmless treat. Not so harmless, however, when you are tempted to devour huge amounts in one sitting.
My go-to low carb dessert when I don’t have anything prepared is a single square of 90% cacao chocolate smeared with peanut butter. Peanut butter cups have long been one of my all-time favourite treats, and this is my way of getting a little bit of that heavenly flavor combination without totally falling off the wagon. But I’ve recently found myself yearning to have real peanut butter cups again, where the chocolate shell is a little softer, and the peanut butter center is a little sweeter. I’d made a low carb version quite some time ago and they were good, but I found myself wondering if I could do better.
I’ve learned a lot about working with unsweetened chocolate since that first recipe, about how to make it smooth and sweet without as much bitterness so I was quite confident I could improve them on that score. But I thought I might also be able to improve the peanut butter center. Instead of just plopping some peanut butter in straight from the jar, I wanted to make it somewhat sweeter and also add a touch of vanilla. I’ve found that vanilla seems to almost intensify the peanut-buttery goodness in desserts.
In the middle of making these, I also hit upon a way to make it easier on myself to get the peanut butter filling into the cups. In the past, I wanted to make the peanut butter stiffer, so it didn’t ooze out everywhere when you took a bite. But that makes it difficult to spread nicely into the prepared cups. So it suddenly occurred to me to melt the peanut butter before I stirred in the sweetener and the vanilla. That way, it was almost liquidy when I put it in, but firmed up nicely when chilled. Because I wanted them to look more like traditional peanut butter cups, I made them in some 1 1/2 inch candy papers I found at my local craft store, that had a plasticated inside so that they could hold their form when brushed with warm chocolate.
These were definitely everything I was hoping for, the perfect marriage of chocolate and peanut butter, without the sugar. They do need to be stored in the refrigerator, otherwise they get too melty. But they are heavenly and I won’t wait long to make them again.