Wednesday, February 1, 2012

So Much for Sugar Free... Peanut-Butter Cups and Coconut Oil

The Setting: Temporary sanctuary in a chaotic apartment--Oia is asleep, and I've got something sweet!

The Soundtrack: Just the hum of the refrigerator.

Steaming up the (Microwave) Oven: Chocolate!

The Scenario: What is the quote about how we make plans and God laughs? I can't remember how it goes, but I'm pretty sure it applies to my morning.

You probably didn't know that in addition to this blog and the cookbook in the works, I also develop recipes for a diabetes-care website.

Typically my offerings are on the savory side, as I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners, and most of my desserts are laden with sugar.

However, I recently bought a giant bag of granulated stevia extract to see if I could sweeten things up a bit.

My first attempt: peanut-butter cups.

It was, in my mind, a flawless concept: Use natural, unsweetened peanut butter; add the stevia to unsweetened baking chocolate; put together for an all-natural, no-sugar-added confection.

Turns out my methods were spot-on, but the flavors were, shall we say, lacking. Stevia itself imparts a bit of a bitter quality, which means its sweetness does little to counter the bitterness of the unsweetened chocolate.

I also realized the peanut butter I was using contained added sugar. Oh well.

On the plus side, I made a batch with regular, semisweet chocolate, and they were a delight.

Furthermore, I confirmed my suspicion that coconut oil would make a terrific, trans-fat-free stand-in for vegetable shortening in chocolate candy-coating.

Here's to lessons learned and first attempts made.

Stay tuned for more fun with stevia as I commit to making use of the remainder of my purchase, and be sure to try some moderately sugared (and still extremely healthy compared to most desserts) peanut-butter cups in the meantime.

Peanut-Butter Cups
Not meant to be as decadent as, say, Buckeyes (recipe coming in the future!), these three-ingredient peanut-butter cups are a healthier alternative to most snacks or sweet treats, plus they're loaded with all-natural peanut butter for plant-derived protein, and--bonus--as long as your chocolate contains no dairy, they're vegan. Coconut oil lends a flawless sheen to the chocolate without adding the trans fats of vegetable shortening.

1-1 1/2 cups all-natural creamy peanut butter, room temperature (I used Skippy Natural)
8-10 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 T pure coconut oil (sometimes called coconut butter)

Place two muffin liners in each cup of a 12-cup muffin pan. Using two liners helps create enough space for the chocolate.

Using two tablespoons, press 1-2 T peanut butter into each muffin cup. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate chips and coconut oil for 30 seconds. Stir thoroughly. Continue to heat for 30-second intervals, stirring thoroughly after each, until the chocolate is just melted. Do not overheat.

Remove muffin pan from freezer. Working with one row-of-three at a time, lift out the muffin liners with the peanut butter, leaving the second liners in the pan.

Spoon 1-2 T chocolate into the empty liners.

Carefully peel the liners off the frozen peanut butter patties, and gently press each one into the chocolate so that the chocolate squeezes up and coats the sides. If enough chocolate squishes up to the top to cover the peanut butter, use your chocolate spoon to spread it out evenly. Add a little more chocolate to the top before spreading out if necessary.

Repeat with remaining rows.

Place in freezer for 10-20 minutes to set. Store, covered, at room temperature for up to one week.

 Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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