Part of my creative process in developing recipes is thinking of certain foods that I know people love the taste of and then modifying them to result in an equally delicious but much more nutritious treat than the more traditional version. If you can guess, today’s recipe was inspired by none other than the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Reese’s cups are one of those nostalgic childhood treats because I remember them being one of my favorite candies as a kid. I think most people can agree that peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven which is why this recipe will satisfy that craving because we kept both but just made some small modifications.
Instead of using milk chocolate, I decided to make these using 62% dark chocolate because dark chocolate contains a greater amount of cacao beans which are a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemical compounds often found in fruits and vegetables that act as a shield to protect the body against free radicals. Free radicals are harmful and unstable substances that are a by-product of our bodies interaction with environmental toxins. Without antioxidants, our body is left vulnerable to physiological damge caused by free radicals. which plays a role in aging, and the development of chronic diseases.
For this recipe I used 62% cacao which for me was the perfect amount because it wasn’t nearly as sweet as milk chocolate, but also not as bitter as 70-90% cacao. The greater the percentage of cacao in dark chocolate, the greater the quantity and quality of the cacao beans antioxidant property.
For those of you who are not such a fan of dark chocolate, I suggest using a 53% cacao instead because it will have less of the bitter flavor and is more comparable to semi-sweet chocolate.
In addition to the chocolate swap, I added pretzels into the traditional peanut butter cup variation for an extra crunch and also because the combination of salty and sweet creates a nice balance. The real twist to the traditional peanut butter cups was made in the second variation by swapping out the peanut butter altogether for the some strawberry & chia seed jam ( recipe featured down below). Chocolate and strawberries are another classic combo but this version has the benefit of extra plant protein, fiber, and omega-3’s from the chia seeds. Whether you’re more of a chocolate & strawberries kind of person or a chocolate & peanut butter personality, I’m sure these will suit your taste buds.
◊ Makes 15 mini cups
- 15 mini paper cupcake liners
- 10 oz. Dark Chocolate Chips/ Chunks (melted)
- Peanut Butter
- Mini pretzels (cut in 1/2)
- Strawberry Chia Jam
- 1 cup chopped strawberries (fresh preferably)
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon sweetener of choice
-In a saucepan over medium heat, simmer the strawberries and mash along the way to break down the natural juices/sugar
-When the strawberries have become more of a liquid texture add in 1/4 cup of chia seeds
-Mix to combine and then refrigerate until ready to use
- Melt your chocolate using either the microwave or a double-boiler.
- If using the microwave: Melt in 10 second increments and constantly stir to help melt and avoid burning the chocolate.
- If using a double-boiler: Fill a small saucepan about 1/3 of the way with water and place a heat-resistant bowl on top. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Heat the water on medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil.
- Once the water comes to a boil, add in the chocolate chips/chunks and stir until all the chocolate has melted.
- Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
- Using a spoon, add about 1 teaspoon of chocolate into the mini cupcake liners to cover the bottom.
- Place in the freezer for 5 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.
- Remove from the freezer and add in your filling of choice (I used about 1 teaspoon of filling per cup)
- For the peanut butter & pretzel: it’s easier to spread the peanut butter on the pretzel and then use the pretzel to spread the peanut butter.
- Add the remaining chocolate to cover the filling and evenly spread the chocolate over the top.
- Place the completed cups in the freezer one more time for about 7 minutes to allow everything to set and remove when ready to eat!
NOTE: You can also keep these stored in the freezer over night and then when you’re ready to eat you can take them out 5 minutes before to allow them to soften up a bit.
I hope you guys give these a try and feel free to modify the fillings to add in whatever flavors you like. By just subbing dark chocolate in place of milk chocolate you can help to boost the nutritional value of an otherwise processed and overly sweet treat.