These are SECRET WEAPON vegan peanut butter cups – so good you would never believe that they contain a stealthy ingredient that takes them to the precipice of being – dare I say it – healthy. What’s the secret weapon, you ask?
Chickpeas! Yes, you read this correctly.
A while ago I made a recipe that was a makeover for Buckeyes, the popular chocolate covered peanut butter ball that typically contains peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter for the filling. The makeover recipe used maple syrup and peanut butter alone, because by happy accident these two ingredients magically thicken up when blended together. As I was making them, I had the crazy idea to replace half of the peanut butter in the recipe with chickpeas. My brain is weird, but I’m sure glad that it is, because they turned out so great! Like their black bean brownie cousins, you CANNOT tell that chickpeas are present. And there is not a lick of dairy to be found. Hence, Secret Weapon Vegan Peanut Butter Cups (say that five times fast).
These power treats are so easy to put together. I’m going to show you two ways to make them – both the standard peanut butter cup that typically come two in a package, and also a mini peanut butter cup version. A big mouth option and a little mouth option. So let’s get crackin’.
Ok, so first, we need to melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Or use the microwave in 30-second increments. Or use a double boiler. You have options when it comes to melting chocolate. I’m just telling you what I did, ok? Calm down.
Pour one teaspoon of melted chocolate into each liner, swirling it around to let it come up the sides just a bit, and then stash them in the freezer to chillax while you make the filling. Are you getting hungry yet?
This is the part where you might think I’m a little bit crazy, especially when it comes to chickpeas. For garbanzo’s sake, I wrote a whole post about how to cook them. But once you’ve tasted these, I swear you won’t be questioning my sanity anymore. You’re just going to have to trust me on this. So let’s make the filling.
In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas until they are crumbly, but not pureed, with no big pieces of chickpea visible. We’re not making hummus here, folks.
Add the peanut butter, maple syrup, and salt, if using.
Pulse the food processor until the mixture seizes up into a ball. It’s really obvious when this happens, and the food processor will probably struggle a little bit to let you know that the magic has happened. As in, it might cry “Uncle!” because the mixture is too thick. And that’s when you know it’s done. By the way, if your food processor actually does cry out, you might need a new one.
Update: In the original version of this recipe, I called for chickpea flour to be added to the filling at this point. After some testing (YUM), I discovered that it wasn’t necessary at all. So if you are a long-time reader and are wondering what the heck happened to the chickpea flour, now you know. 🙂
Now measure out 2 teaspoons of filling and roll into a ball. You can also pat it down into a flat circle, but I like to wait to do that until I press it down into the muffin liner. It’s easier to make sure it’s the right size. Repeat with the remaining filling until it’s all used up – you should get at least 12 balls of filling.
Pull out the muffin liners from the freezer, then place one ball of filling into each cavity. I just realized that I’m unintentionally using a lot of dental jargon. Not sure what to make of that. Anyway, now press the ball down into a disc shape, leaving a very small amount of space between the filling and the sides, to make room for the chocolate to settle in.
For the final touch, pour 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate into each liner, taking care that the chocolate gets down into all the nooks and crannies on the sides. Nobody likes a bald spot on their peanut butter cups.
Things are getting really serious now. Just look at those beautiful babies.
Back into the freezer they go, and so begins the longest 15 minutes of your life while you wait for them to set up. If you are super-duper patient, wait 1 hour. And then, my friends, unwrap, and savor the secret weapon goodness.
But Beth, how do I make mini peanut butter cups? I’m glad you asked.
To make mini peanut butter cups, you just use mini muffin liners instead of regular muffin liners. What, were you expecting something more complicated? Ok, ok, here’s another, let’s say, fancier, option. A couple of birthdays ago I was gifted this silicone mold, and it was like the universe was saying, “Beth. It is time to make mini peanut butter cups.” As if I needed convincing. Anyway, you can totally use it to make awesomely perfect looking mini peanut butter cups. Plus you feel a bit like Willy Wonka making candy in a fancy pants candy mold. (RIP, Gene Wilder.)
Whether you go fancy or not, the process is the same. Pour 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate into the bottom of each cavity, and spread it all up the sides. Freeze it while you make the filling. Then measure out 1 teaspoon of filling and roll it into a ball, repeating until all the filling is used up. Place each ball of filling into the chocolate-coated cavities (ha ha), and then pour 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate down over the top, gently spreading the chocolate so it settles down into all the nooks and crannies. Freeze for 15 minutes minimum or up to 1 hour, then unwrap or un-mold, and enjoy!
I cannot be blamed for the involuntary yummy noises that you make when eating these. I’m just saying that you may want some privacy. You’re welcome.
P.S. Michael wanted to name these “Chick-Choc Peanut Butter Cups”, as in “tick-tock”, or “there’s always time for Chick-Choc Peanut Butter Cups!” I give him props for cleverness, but we had creative differences and I went another direction. I hope he can forgive me while he eats one of these.
Secret Weapon Vegan Peanut Butter Cups
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (rinsed and drained well)
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
- pinch of salt (omit if using salted peanut butter)
- 1 1/2 cups dairy-free chocolate chips (the Enjoy Life brand is a good choice)
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
For standard peanut butter cups
- Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil either on the stovetop or in the microwave until pourable.
- Add 1 teaspoon of the melted chocolate mixture into the bottom of a muffin cup (silicone is deal, but the standard paper muffin liner will work too). Swirl the chocolate around so it covers the bottom and swirls up the sides of the muffin cup slightly. Place in the freezer to set up while you prepare the filling.
- Pulse chickpeas in food processor until crumbly, but not pureed.
- Add the peanut butter, maple syrup, and salt (if using), and pulse until the mixture "seizes up", or suddenly thickens. This happens quickly and is very obvious.
- Measure out 2 teaspoons of filling and roll into a ball. Set aside on a piece of parchment paper or a plate. Repeat with the remaining filling - there should be enough for at least 12 balls.
- Remove muffin cups from the freezer. Place one ball of filling into each cup and pat down into a flat circle, leaving a small amount of space between the edge of the filling and the muffin cup.
- Pour 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate mixture over the top of the filling and jiggle slightly to let the chocolate settle down over the filling.
- Place the muffin cups back into the freezer to firm up for at least 15 minutes, or until completely set (1 hour). Once set, unwrap, and enjoy! Makes 12 peanut butter cups, or 24 mini peanut butter cups
- Store peanut butter cups in the fridge or freezer until time to eat. They won't take up space for long.
For mini peanut butter cups
- Use mini muffin paper liners or this silicone candy mold.
- Pour 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate into each cavity, and spread it across the bottom and up the sides. Place in freezer to set.
- Measure out 1 teaspoon of filling and roll into a ball. Repeat until the filling is gone (should yield about 24 balls).
- Remove muffin cups or candy mold from the freezer.
- Place one ball in each cavity and cover with 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate, spreading gently to allow the chocolate to settle around the filling.
- Place muffin cups or candy mold back into the freezer and let set for at least 15 minutes before enjoying. They will be fully set/hard after 1 hour.