Perfect Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

These homemade peanut butter cups are truly perfect! This recipe shows you how to temper chocolate to get a glossy sheen, and make a mouthwatering peanut butter filling.

Homemade peanut butter cups | how to make peanut butter cups

This year, I requested that we make homemade peanut butter cups as a Christmas treat for our holiday parties and cookie plates. Turns out, making the perfect homemade peanut butter cups is quite the challenge! A few of our most trusted sources had recipes that didn’t work out so well. So, Alex and I set about to solve the homemade peanut butter cups challenge! These cups had to have just the right amount of peanut butter filling, just the right thickness of chocolate, and not melt at room temperature. And after lots of research, we found part of the answer is in tempering the chocolate. How to temper chocolate? What else makes perfect peanut butter cups? Keep reading for why we think this recipe makes the perfect homemade peanut butter cups. Even better than Reese’s and Justin’s.

Homemade peanut butter cups | how to make peanut butter cups

How to make peanut butter cups

There are lots of homemade peanut butter cup recipes on the internet. But testing them found a different story. Making several of these recipes resulted in too bitter or thick of chocolate, peanut butter that spilled out the sides, and lumpy and dull chocolate. For some reason, we just couldn’t get them right. Then, we decided to try the recipe tempering the chocolate. And it worked beautifully, making the perfect glossy chocolate that had a perfect crunch at room temperature. Keep reading for how to temper chocolate.

How to make peanut butter cups? Basically, take tempered chocolate and let it harden around a peanut butter filling in a mini muffin tin. For our filling, we added maple syrup to peanut butter and a tiny bit of powdered sugar. Then to bring in a complexity, we added some allspice and vanilla extract. To add the filling to the homemade peanut butter cups, we roll the peanut butter into balls and then flatten them into discs. This helps for easy placement into the cups.

After he tasted these, Alex exclaimed: “It’s better than Reese’s, and even Justin’s peanut butter cups!” Want to see if you agree?

How to make peanut butter cups
How to temper chocolate

How to temper chocolate

Ok, what the heck is tempering chocolate? Tempering chocolate is a way to melt chocolate that makes it smooth and glossy when it dries. It makes a crisp snap when you bite into it, and stays hard at room temperature. Also, have you ever noticed that a white, waxy texture forms on the surface of some chocolate over time? That’s the cocoa fat separating out. Tempering chocolate avoids all that!

So how to temper chocolate? It’s a precise process BUT, it is so, so so worth it. It will make your homemade peanut butter cups…perfect. Equipment you’ll need for tempering your chocolate is a digital thermometer. (If you don’t want to use a thermometer, this is a good resource.) The basic concept is that you melt 2/3 of your chocolate, then stir in 1/3 of the unmelted chocolate, which brings down the temperature. Then you reheat the entire mixture until it’s glossy and perfectly melted. The instructions in the recipe below explain the exact temperatures to use. It might feel like overkill, but it was this that helped us to truly perfect our homemade peanut butter cups recipe.

What if the tempering doesn’t work? No problem. If you find the chocolate is soft and melty at room temperature even after tempering, just store these peanut butter cups in the refrigerator!

Homemade peanut butter cups | how to make peanut butter cups

The conclusion: how these peanut butter cups taste

The resulting homemade peanut butter cups are so, so good! They’ve got a satisfying crunch, just the right amount of lightly sweet peanut butter filling, and a few flakes of sea salt on top for a salty flair. WOWZA! We will be making these for years to come. Let us know if you try them in the comments below: and if you think they’re perfect too!

Looking for more dessert recipes?

Outside of these homemade peanut butter cups, we have dozens of delicious dessert recipes on A Couple Cooks:

Homemade peanut butter cups | how to make peanut butter cups

This recipe is…

This homemade peanut butter cups recipe is vegetarian and gluten free.

*For vegan, you can try substituting vegan chocolate at your own risk — but we cannot speak to how to temper vegan chocolate!

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Homemade peanut butter cups | how to make peanut butter cups

Perfect Homemade Peanut Butter Cups


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  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 18 1x

Description

These homemade peanut butter cups are truly perfect! This recipe shows you how to temper chocolate to get a glossy sheen, and make a mouthwatering peanut butter filling.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces high quality semisweet chocolate baking bar*
  • Chunky sea salt, for the garnish

Instructions

Make the peanut butter filling:

  • In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, allspice, and vanilla until fully combined into a sticky mixture. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Divide the mixture into 18 even pieces, about 1 scant teaspoon each, onto the parchment paper. Then roll each peanut butter piece in your hands into a ball and flatten the top so it forms a disc. Make them as even as you can (see the photo).
  • Test the size in a mini muffin cup to make sure that the peanut butter disc is just narrower than the size of the circle at the bottom, so that the chocolate will fully cover it. Set aside the peanut butter.

Line a mini muffin tin with 18 mini muffin wrappers.

Temper the chocolate (works well with 2 people! It sounds complicated but only takes about 5 to 10 minutes):

  • Break the chocolate bars into small pieces.
  • Start a small saucepan of barely simmering water.
  • In a heat-proof bowl that is completely dry that will fit over the pan of simmering water, add about 2/3 of the chocolate pieces (we used a small metal bowl). Make sure not to get any water into the chocolate, since it will cause the chocolate to seize up! (There are fixes for siezed chocolate but it’s not pretty.) You’ll hold the bowl with the chocolate above the other saucepan with boiling water to create a double boiler (or you can use a double boiler if you have one!). Place a towel on counter next to the stove so that you can transfer the bowl to the counter as necessary and avoid any water getting into the bowl.
  • Hold the bowl of chocolate over the simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt a bit, then gently stir with a spatula until the chocolate fully melts and warms to 115°F. Use a quick-read digital thermometer to check the temperature often; the chocolate will heat quickly at the end.
  • Once the chocolate is at 115°F, immediately remove it from the burner onto the towel. Add the remaining 1/3 of the unmelted chocolate (called seed chocolate) and stir constantly until it melts and the chocolate temperature falls to 84°F. Be very precise about the temperature, checking with the candy thermometer every so often.
  • Here’s the important part: When the chocolate is 84°F, return the bowl of chocolate to above the pan of simmering water, and bring it back to 90-91°F. Keep checking with the quick-read digital thermometer until it is 91°F, then remove from the heat immediately.**

Place the tempered chocolate into the mini muffin tin:

  • Working as quickly as possible, place about a heaping 1/4 teaspoon in the bottom of each mini muffin cup. Use the measuring spoon to spread the chocolate into a thin circle on the bottom. Bang the pan onto the counter a few times so that the chocolate evenly spreads.
  • Continuing to work quickly, place the peanut butter discs into the centers of the chocolate, being as exact as possible.
  • Then, pour about 1 teaspoon of chocolate onto the tops of all 18 cups so that the chocolate fills in around it to make a chocolate cup. If the chocolate looks like it’s starting to firm up, you can return it to above the hot water and stir for just a minute to heat it back up. Keep working to evenly divide the remaining chocolate between the cups. Then bang the pan several times against the counter so that the chocolate spreads evenly and the tops are level.

Refrigerate for 3 minutes, then remove the tray and sprinkle the top of each cup with a tiny bit of sea salt. Continue to refrigerate for about 15 to 25 minutes until the chocolate is hardened. Store refrigerated.


Notes

*We’ve customized these tempering instructions for semisweet chocolate: the timing may be different for other types of chocolate. If you want to use vegan chocolate, do so at your own risk: we cannot speak to how to temper vegan chocolate!

*DO NOT GO OVER 93°F or the chocolate will have to be fully re-tempered. To retemper the chocolate, you’d have to heat back up to 115°F and add extra seed chocolate, following the same instructions. So, try to be very precise about the temperature to ensure the most consistent chocolate!

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Homemade peanut butter cups, How to temper chocolate, How to make peanut butter cups, Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Dessert

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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