I made these days ago and am just now getting around to posting the recipe. Whoops. There are many, many versions/recipes for vegan peanut butter eggs/cups. At its most basic, a vegan peanut butter cup is this: melt vegan chocolate. Pour some into a muffin tin that has been lined with cupcake liners. Add a blob of peanut butter. Cover the peanut butter with more melted chocolate. Allow to cool. Eat.
Those are good, and certainly easy.
However, they don’t exactly replicate the Reese’s I remember from my youth. Reese’s peanut butter cups and Reese’s pieces were the two things I missed when I first went vegan way back in the mid-90s. I did not miss cheese; I didn’t really miss ice cream, because I could usually find some Tofutti. However, I really, really missed Reese’s. There was just something about the light, milk chocolate and the sweet/salty creamy-but-not-runny peanut butter filling. Yum.
I have tried to replicate that combination here. I find that adding a little bit of graham cracker crumbs gives the peanut butter the same texture that Reese’s had, but you can certainly omit the cracker crumbs. Adding a good amount of confectioners’ sugar seems, to me, to be crucial to obtaining the right flavor and consistency. I have made the filling using just peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar, and it is very, very close to Reese’s. Just use approximately equal amounts of both, and as you mix, it will magically transform from goopy peanut butter to an almost-solid mass that is almost exactly the same as the inside of a Reese’s. (Full disclosure: It has been at least 17 years since I’ve had a Reese’s peanut butter cup, so I’m working on memory here, folks.)
A lot of recipes I’ve seen for vegan eggs/cups call for far less sugar and a lot of freezing/unfreezing. I’m sure those are healthier, but probably not quite as close to the original; plus all that freezing sort of seems like a pain (and I don’t have the room in my freezer to do so, anyways). This version requires no freezing at all.
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, approximately
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
a splash vanilla (optional – yes, I am obsessed with all things vanilla)
a dash salt, optional
About a cup of vegan chocolate – I used Trader Joe’s dark melting chocolate (the ‘pound plus’ stuff; you could also use vegan chocolate chips) – see note below
1 teaspoon coconut oil, optional
Method: (Makes about 24 medium-size eggs)
mix together peanut butter, sugar, graham cracker crumbs, vanilla, and salt. Add enough sugar so that you have a non-sticky mixture.
Grab small (1 to 2 teaspoons) pieces of dough and form into egg shapes, or whatever shape you want to use. Place all the shapes on a cookie sheet. (I have to admit that some, or most, of my finished eggs looked more like slugs than eggs…but they still tasted wonderful.) For easier removal of the finished eggs, grease the cookie sheet or use parchment paper. I did neither and the eggs still came off fine, but some chocolate was lost on the bottom.
Melt the chocolate. Add a teaspoon of coconut oil if desired. This helps the chocolate be more dippable/thinner, and I think it improves the flavor as well, BUT it makes the chocolate on the finished eggs melt a bit quicker when you’re eating them, so use your judgment. Personally, I liked the effect of having melted chocolate on my hands as I ate the egg; it was messy but seemed authentic.
Turn off the heat under the chocolate and, one at a time, place the peanut butter eggs into the chocolate. Use a fork to gently roll the peanut butter egg so that it is covered in chocolate. Place back on the cookie sheet. Refrigerate the eggs until the chocolate has hardened. Here, where it has been warm and humid, I’ve kept the finished eggs in the refrigerator, but you could store them on the shelf if it’s not too warm.
if you’re making peanut butter cups, just use the chocolate to coat a muffin liner, add some of the peanut butter mixture, and top with more chocolate.
I bet these would be good with some shredded, unsweetened coconut added to the peanut butter mixture…….must try that sometime soon.
A note on melting chocolate: I used to always use vegan chocolate chips when I was dipping/covering things. It was fine, but I noticed two problems: 1. it got really thick, and often resulted in more chocolate covering than this vanilla-lover wanted; and 2. the more things you had to dip, the thicker the chocolate got, often requiring a pause to re-melt the chocolate. Averie, baking genuis over at www.loveveggiesandyoga.com, has written about Trader Joe’s Pound Plus baking/melting chocolate. I picked up some the last time we were at TJ’s. I got two different kinds – one was 70%, maybe, and the other 65%? I can’t exactly remember, and we no longer have the wrappers. They were both vegan (duh!) so I decided to try them both. Averie gave the TJ Pound Plus rave reviews, and she knows what she’s talking about, so I decided to give it a try. This is the first recipe for which I have used it, and I have to say, Averie is absolutely right. This stuff is much easier to work with than chocolate chips, and I think it tastes better too. It melts quickly and evenly, and it melts to be a bit thinner than chocolate chips do. Plus, it stays melted longer when the heat is off. It also does not coat as thickly, resulting in a thinner layer of chocolate than chocolate chips create. I found it to be far superior to chocolate chips; it was easier to work with, and created a better ratio of chocolate-to-filling. I will definitely use it again, and will buy more.
Next up: Vegan Cadbury Eggs, using Trader Joe’s Pound Plus…..YUMMMMMM!