October 24th, 2012
09:30 AM ET
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Halloween is lurking around the corner and while the trick-or-treaters that come to your door, no doubt, want the classic candy brands they know and love, Halloween parties and office gatherings scream out for homemade peanut butter cups.

Homemade peanut butter cups might seem like a mystery - just how do they get the peanut butter inside the chocolate cup anyway? Lee Zalben, the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., solves the riddle with this step-by-step guide for peanut butter cups made in your own haunted house.

Peanut Butter Cups
Makes approximately 24 cups

peanut butter cups


Special Equipment: Mini-muffin tin, baking or candy liners, candy thermometer (optional), kitchen scale to measure chocolate (optional)

Cooking Directions

  1. Place 24 candy or baking liners in the cavities of a mini-muffin tin. Set aside for later.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, confectioners' sugar and peanut flour. Mix until smooth. Add the graham cracker crumbs and mix until well combined. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes or until the mixture is firm.
  3. Using a 1/2-teaspoon measure, scoop out 24 rounded spoonfuls of peanut butter. Gently roll into balls and place on a cutting board or plate. Lightly flatten the balls with your fingertips, making discs. Refrigerate for 10 minutes so they firm up.
  4. Place all of the chocolate in a large glass bowl and mix together. Remove about one third and reserve for later. In the meantime, heat 4 to 6 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Once the water comes to a simmer, turn the flame down to its lowest setting and place the glass bowl with chocolate on top of the saucepan (This process of using a double boiler prevents the chocolate from burning by melting it over consistent, but moderate heat). Gently stir the chocolate for several minutes until the mixture is smooth. Use a candy thermometer to ensure that the chocolate gets to 115°F but doesn’t go above. Turn off the flame.
  5. Place a towel on your work surface and place the glass bowl on top of the towel. Add the reserved chocolate and stir constantly, bringing the temperature of the melted chocolate to about 82°F. Once it hits 82°F, return the bowl to the saucepan of hot water and bring the temperature of the chocolate back up to about 90°F. You may or may not have to turn the flame on to achieve this. Keep the chocolate at 90°F while you work with it. (This process is known as tempering the chocolate, which will help the chocolate maintain its high gloss finish and "snap" when you break or bite into it.)
  6. Drop one teaspoon of tempered chocolate into each of the liners in the muffin pan. When done, gently tap the pan on the counter so that the chocolate spreads to the bottom of the liners. Tilt the pan slightly in each direction to encourage the mixture to coat the sides of the liner slightly and then tap the pan again.
  7. Remove the peanut butter discs from the refrigerator and gently place one on top of the chocolate in each liner. Next, spoon additional chocolate on top of the peanut butter. When complete, tap the pan to remove air bubbles and level off the tops. Add more chocolate if necessary and repeat tapping.
  8. Refrigerate the muffin pan for at least 60 minutes or until the chocolate is set. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
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Filed under: Halloween • Halloween • Holiday • Holidays • Make • Recipes • Step-by-Step • Sweet

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    You want me to put some peanut butter cup in your eggs?

    October 25, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  2. Carly

    Couple of things:
    I think the pictures here are a better representation of the process than some of the directions included... for instance, if you haven't worked with chocolate before – I wouldn't really expect chocolate at 90 degrees to flow around at all if you simply tilt the muffin tray. It's surprisingly stiff when it's in temper. Plus, it's cooling as soon as it hits the cup. Just try to get approximately the right amount in the cups as quickly as you can. Honestly, tempering chocolate can be a pain at first. You get used to it; just rewarm and stir a lot.

    The filling as written is great for what it's supposed to be (similar to a Reese's or other commercially-produced cup) but I've always preferred pb cups from candy shops that use creamier, less-adulterated pb. While that sounds easier because there's no mixing and shaping of centers, it's sort of a trade-off because it's more finicky getting the filling into the cup.

    Finally, this method is also great if you want to try your hand at making other kinds of filled chocolates but aren't ready to start buying and messing around with chocolate molds just yet. You can fill them with ganache or fondant centers, or anything else you want, really.

    November 3, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  3. messy cook

    LOL, this is the first photo-recipe I have ever seen that actually shows what it's like to work with melted chocolate, and what you have to clean up when your little treats are done. Hurray for real life! But what is up with all the snarky comments? I'm not going to tell you if I like to cook or not. If I do, I am too old-fashioned, not a modern woman. If I don't, I'm a bad mother. Can't win with you guys.

    October 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • c s

      I used to work in a bake shop and the simple truth is that the pot with chocolate was never cleaned. Instead it sat on top of hot oven all the time until it was needed. When the pot was low, chocolate was added. In order to thicken, water was added. In order to thin it, oil was added. I worked at the bake shop for months and the chocolate pot was never cleaned.

      October 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • c s

      I guess that you could put the chocolate pot in the freezer when it is not needed.

      October 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  4. Sharon Hayball

    Thanks CNN for the recipe, I'll be making these with my son this afternoon. I was looking throught the comments hoping to find a suggestion for peanut four substitution(didn't see any at the store). I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with all of nasty,hateful, steriotypical comments posted regarding a recipe. Sad for ya'll.
    People cooking/baking is not gender based:)

    October 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • JeffinIL

      I'd never even heard of peanut flour before.
      Google search says that almond flour may work as a substitute but it may affect the taste.

      October 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  5. GetOffYourHighHorse

    Seriously, I would gain about 100 pounds if I started eating these. Reeces are my absolute favorite candy.

    October 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Silver

      Feces are your favorite? Nasty.

      October 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      October 27, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  6. GetOffYourHighHorse

    I can't eat peanuts or chocolate or wheat. I also work and drive and don't like to cook. This recipe is no good to me. That's why I'm commenting here. I also spend my spare time trolling comment boards...

    October 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Sapphire

      Just feeeeeel the love.

      October 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
      • gins

        made me laugh

        October 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Michelle


      October 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Rooooar!

      At least you're honest. Lol

      October 28, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  7. MashaSobaka

    I love baking. Life is hectic and crazy, and let's face it: the world sucks sometimes. Making a good batch of cookies or peanut butter cups or scones or a cake is a good way to spend 30 minutes or an hour not worrying about what a f***ed-up mess the world is. And then you get to, you know, eat the goodies.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Reggie

      Wow, you sound so unhappy with your life. Is it that bad, maybe some positive thoughts and positive remarks will brighten up your attitude.

      October 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  8. Alex

    Not all women find their lives fulfilling by being in a kitchen! And some should never try to cook . . .

    October 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • suj

      yeah, they have other...um...talents.

      October 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  9. Janet

    I'd rather clean the house or detail the car than be in a kitchen. Guess I spent too much time as Mommie Dearest's housekeeper when I was growing up. Don't want to do it now.
    It's cheaper to buy the fool things than all the ingredients, trip to the store, etc. That way, I can spend my time doing what I love and it sure ain't being the 'good little woman in the kitchen.' Makes you happy? Go for it.

    October 25, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  10. Antony Scalia

    We're NOT ALLOWED to have peanut *ANYTHING* anymore, haven't you heard? Yeah, GOOD LUCK with the LAWSUITS from parents that live in schools with "peanut-free allergy tables" in the lunchroom.

    October 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Alicia

      If you even say the word "peanut" you're up a creek.

      October 26, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  11. CJ

    This looks pretty fast and simple, especially if you go the lazy route and skip tempering the chocolate (which I'd skip unless I was trying to impress someone)... thanks for the recipe!

    October 25, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  12. nickposh

    Even better, make your own fresh peanut butter. Take a handful or two of freshly roasted peanuts and put them in a food processor, add powdered sugar, (salt, and oil if necessary.) You can even mix in some vanilla bean or cinnamon. Grind to the consistency that you want. If ground properly, you can skip the peanut meal or graham cracker crumbs. You can also roast your own peanuts easily. Bags of shelled, skinless, raw peanuts can be found in most supermarkets in the produce section. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 20 mins, then allow to cool.

    October 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • JeramieH

      "Do you churn your own butter too?"

      October 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
      • suj

        with all this peanut scare making your own makes sense. Eat peanut butter and die!

        October 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  13. jj

    They sound better than Reese's. But my throat is swelling shut because of the peanut butter and peanut flour

    October 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  14. KLM

    Easier than I thought. Thanks for the recipe.

    October 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  15. dragonwife1

    Hey, folks, let's stop name-calling. If someone says they don't have time to make things from scratch, don't snipe at them about being "whiny" or "lazy". You don't know what their life is like. Conversely, those who say they're too busy, don't assume that the author or those who do have (or make) time to make treats "don't work" or have "too much time on their hands". Everyone's schedule is different, and no matter how much you work (or whether you do or not), what you do with the spare time you have is your decision. Some want to spend it baking from scratch, some want to just chill and/or recuperate. If everyone would just appreciate the article and recipe and try it if/when you have the time and inclination, instead of making snarky comments about each other, it would be nicer for all concerned. Life's too short to argue about peanut butter cups!

    October 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • jzaks

      For goodness sake, get back on your meds.

      October 25, 2012 at 7:20 am |
      • Jerv

        Nah, dragonwife1 is right. And when I make these delicious looking treats in my "spare time," I'm adding some liquor. Boo-rah! Happy Halloween everyone!

        October 25, 2012 at 8:37 am |
        • AleeD®@Jerv

          Iiiiiinteresting. What flavor liquor are you thinking about adding?

          October 25, 2012 at 9:24 am |
        • Jerv@AleeD

          Amaretto, baby, amarettoooo.

          October 25, 2012 at 9:54 am |
        • dragonwife1

          Butterscotch schnapps would be good too. I have a hot apple cider punch I make for our Halloween party, and I add ButterShots to it. It's really delicious!

          October 25, 2012 at 11:40 am |
        • Jerv@dragonwife1

          I know who I'm hanging out with for Halloween. : )

          October 25, 2012 at 11:45 am |
        • dragonwife1

          Well, if you're in Omaha, drop by! Gotta be in costume, though! :-)

          October 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  16. Baking Mom

    Shortcut: Instead of mixing up the peanut butter filling, just drop in a peanut butter Ritz-Bitz cracker. I like it even better with Almond Bark instead of chocolate.

    October 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  17. Snurfles

    Too bad these have flour in them. I would love to make my own but can't eat flour (graham cracker crumbs). I'll just stick to Reese's for now.

    October 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Sarah LeTrent

      Hey Snurfles! There are actually a couple of gluten-free graham cracker brands out on the market. Lee also noted that you don't necessarily have to use the peanut flour or graham cracker crumbs - the filling just won't have as crumbly as a texture as you're used to with store-bought peanut butter cups. Hope that helps!

      October 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • ohioan

      I've made them before without the crumbs. It's an easy item to leave out, or sub in a gluten free crumbled sugar cookie if you would like.

      October 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  18. Curtis

    These are good for a Reese's knock-off, but I made a batch of pb cups using JUST semi-sweet chocolate and peanut butter. No sugar or flour, and they turned out better than the original. Bolder pb and chocolate flavors.

    October 24, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  19. ohioan

    so you work 7 days a week, 8 hour days with 3 hours of commute time?
    I work full time and have 4 kids in sports. I don't seem to have a problem finding a couple hours on the weekend to bake up a few goodies for the week from scratch.

    October 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  20. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    Those look magical! I wonder if they're as good as they look... Nothing beats Reese's Peanut Butter Cups – Too bad I haven't had one in over 10 years!!!

    October 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  21. Working Mom

    I work a full time job and I have no problem getting this stuff done....homemade is WAY better than store bought. It helps my three year old likes to bake. No TV watching going on for me!

    October 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  22. Michelle

    I made my own Peanut Butter Cups but with a fall twist. Cinnamon in the dark chocolate and pumpkin mixed into the peanut butter filling! http://www.examiner.com/article/halloween-recipe-pumpkin-peanut-butter-cups?cid=db_articles

    October 24, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  23. Nikki

    Wow. An 8-hour work day and 3-hour roundtrip commute and then make these? I'll just stop by the store and buy some. Guess the author must work out of her home & has too much time on her hands.

    October 24, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Simon

      I know right? Why don't they only post things that are of interest to people who have busy schedules? I would also much rather read an article about buying peanut butter cups from the store, because everyone who works a lot would never consider even doing something like this on the weekend in their off time.

      October 24, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Mom

      Whine whine whine... if you don't like it then buy a bag of Reese's, simple. Some of us aren't lazy.

      October 24, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Kei

      I work 9 hour days with an equally long commute and I *love* to bake. I am also a part-time student working on my thesis. On the weekend, I'll kill a couple of hours making cupcakes or cake pops and then bring them into work on Monday to share. I love how, according to you, finding time for hobbies means you have too much time on your hands. You must be quite the drag.

      October 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
      • jeninky

        Kei, baking recharges your brain. Everyone needs a break. THAT must be what's wrong with negative people! They need to bake or get a hobby. You can't go 90 mph forever, you have to stop for fuel eventually. Kudos to you for finding "me" time and sharing it with others!

        October 25, 2012 at 10:20 am |
      • Nikki

        Nay - just hate cooking! ! ! !

        October 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
        • Mary

          Then why didn't you just say that outright instead of whining and making assumptions about people who make time for their interests and hobbies?

          October 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Curtis

      Bitter Nikki is bitter.

      October 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Pat

      What a silly comment. I have four kids, work full time and I commute two-and-a-half hours daily, but I still find the time to cook. Perhaps if you spent less time watching TV and/or on Facebook, you'd find the time to occasionally make something from scratch in your kitchen. I watch TV as well (no Facebook here), but when I'm motivated enough, I'll find my way to the kitchen to make a proper meal and try out new recipes. Life is more rewarding that way when you try new things instead of claiming that you never have the time or saying that writers don't have full time jobs.

      By your math, an 8 hour work day plus a 3 hour commute equals 11 hours. You still have 13 hours left in the day, with about 7 of these used for sleeping and another one for getting ready for work in the morning. That's five hours to do things such as cooking and maybe encouraging your kids (if you have them) or husband (if you have one) to join you in the kitchen for a little experimenting of recipes. You'll get more out of life that way.

      October 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
      • Alex

        Be sure to wear your Superman costume ! ! !

        October 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
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