How to Make Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Cups

How to Make Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Cups

I have a longstanding love affair with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. One that time never forgets. Imposters have come and gone, hoping to replace them in my heart, but all paled in comparison.

No matter how long it’s been, when I hold that crinkly orange package in my hand the bond is still there. And my heart still gives a trill. Like a best friend you haven’t seen in years but it only feels like a day.

In all of their simplicity the satisfying combo of salty peanut butter and sweet milk chocolate holds a certain charm for me.

Being of the firm belief that homemade is best it makes perfect sense that I would recreate one of my life long favorites. A batch can be made in about an hour using minimal ingredients. They make the best gifts. And is a great project to do with kids.

One of the things I like about making them myself is that I can personalize them in ways that even money can’t buy. I added mini salted pretzels, honey-roasted peanuts and festive sprinkles to mine. What would you add to yours? I’d love to hear your ideas for my next batch!

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

The Verdict? They are undeniably reminiscent of the original! Be still my heart. I have eaten enough of these in my lifetime to admit that I truly would not be able to tell the difference between them if I were subjected to a blind taste test. The resemblance is remarkable!

In six steps I’m going to show you just how easy it is to make homemade peanut butter cups, followed by a dark chocolate salted caramel version using the same technique.

Assemble your ingredients.

Recipe Ingredients for Peanut Butter Cups

The recipe begins by making the filling. Use a fork to combine the peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt until smooth and cohesive. You control the sweetness and the saltiness by adding more or less sugar and salt. The amount of sugar will determine how thick the filling is, the thicker being easy to work with. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Peanut Butter Filling for Peanut Butte Cups

Melt half of the chocolate using a double boiler or the microwave on the chocolate setting, checking and stirring every 15 seconds until smooth and creamy. I prefer the double boiler for the control it gives me. It’s easier to scorch or burn the chocolate in the microwave. A double boiler can easily be made by placing a stainless steel bowl over a sauce pan. Fill with a small amount of water and bring to a simmer, stir chocolate until smooth and melted. If using the microwave, place the melted bowl of chocolate over a saucepan of hot water while filling the cups to keep it warm and fluid.

Melted Chocolate for Peanut Butter Cups

Line a mini-muffin pan or a baking sheet with aluminum candy cups or baking cups.

Mini Muffin Pan Lined for Making Peanut Butter Cups

Drop a rounded teaspoon of chocolate into each cup and use the back of the spoon to draw it up the sides to coat the sides of the cups. A plastic 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon is just the right size to comfortable fit in the cups and worked best for me. Refrigerate for ten minutes to allow the chocolate to set.

Chocolate Lined Candy Cups

Add the filling to the cups, just short of the top and flatten. Depending on how much confectioners’ sugar you used the filling may be thick enough to shape with your hands.

Peanut Butter Filled  Peanut Butter Cups

Melt the other half of the chocolate and add just under a teaspoon to each one, smoothing evenly over top with the back of the spoon. Refrigerate and allow to set.

Chocolate Topped Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut Butter Cups
(by Reeni)

1 cup peanut butter (not natural or reduced fat)
2/3 -1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt, optional
16 ounce milk chocolate bar (like Nestle)

1. In a medium mixing bowl combine peanut butter, 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and salt with a fork. Taste and add additional sugar/salt if desired. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

2. Line a mini muffin tin or baking sheet with aluminum candy cups or baking cups

3. Use a double boiler to melt half of the chocolate, alternately use the chocolate setting on your microwave, checking and stirring every 15 seconds.

4. Drop a teaspoonful of chocolate into the bottom of each liner and use the back of a spoon to draw the chocolate up the sides. A 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon works well for this. Refrigerate for ten minutes.

5. Add a spoonful of filling to each cup and flatten out the top. Depending on how much confectioners’ sugar you used the filling might be thick enough to shape with your hands.

6. Melt the remaining chocolate using the same method. Drop a teaspoonful over top of each one and smooth out. Refrigerate.

Makes 26-30 cups.

Printable Recipe

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Follow the same steps to make dark chocolate salted caramel cups. Simply replace the milk chocolate with dark chocolate, the peanut butter filling with caramel and sprinkle sea salt over the tops. The caramel I use is dulce de leche, a soft milk caramel popular in Mexico and South America.

Caramel filling ready for its chocolate topping.

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cups
(by Reeni)

1 cup dulce de leche (recipe link) or thick dessert caramel sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling over top
16 ounce dark chocolate bar (like Hershey’s Special Dark)

1. Line a mini muffin tin or baking sheet with aluminum candy cups or baking cups

3. Use a double boiler to melt half of the chocolate, alternately use the chocolate setting on your microwave, checking and stirring every 15 seconds.

4. Drop a teaspoonful of chocolate into the bottom of each liner and use the back of a spoon to draw the chocolate up the sides. Set in refrigerator for ten minutes.

5. Add a spoonful of caramel to each cup and flatten out the top.

6. Melt the remaining chocolate using the same method. Drop a teaspoonful over top of each one and smooth out. Sprinkle salt over top. Refrigerate until set.

Makes 26-30 cups.

Printable Recipe

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cups

My Notes:

-I experimented by making four batches using different chocolates. The easiest chocolate to work with was Hershey’s special dark chocolate which is likely due to its low sugar content, followed by Nestle milk chocolate bars, candy melts and Giardelli chocolate chips. The chocolate chips were thick and goopy and the hardest to work with. The candy melts worked fine, but using them really sacrifices taste and gives the chocolate a stale, cheap flavor.

-Chilling briefly between each step makes working with the ingredients much easier.

-These are best stored in the refrigerator and taken out to come to room temperature before eating. They can be frozen.

-Dulce de Leche can be found in the Spanish section of your market, usually in cans near the coconut milk. I have also included a link to a recipe I use for making it in a crockpot.

-Candy cups, candy melts and candy boxes can be found at your local crafts store like A.C. Moore, Michael’s and Ben Franklin. Some grocery stores have them including Walmart (housewares section).

-Don’t worry about making them perfect – like a machine would! Imperfections add to their rustic, homemade charm.

Homemade Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Caramel Cups

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