George is like a character you'd find in a fiction novel. He has the quirks of someone made up, except I work with him at Trader Joes demo station in my non-fiction life. He has a curly ponytail, thick glasses, wears shorts year-round, loves beer, does not own a car, cell phone or computer, speaks of the internet like it's something from space. He prefers people at work (both customers and employees) to call him "The Sheriff" and when the song Wild Wild West comes on in the store, he does a little dance complete with his fingers shaped like guns drawn from his make believe holsters, and boogies around the sample station. I can't make this stuff up. If you're not familiar, Trader Joes has a sample station where people come to try a product, and I work the morning shifts after George has worked there the night before. He likes to chat, and to encourage the company of other employees to come talk, he always opens a box of the dark chocolate peanut butter cups. It's like pigeons and breadcrumbs - he opens those up and people flock. When I follow his shift the next morning, there are usually a couple left for me. I've gotten so used to it now that I get sad when there aren't any left under the table. The more people catch on to his secret stash, the less there are to feed my habit at 7 a.m. This is probably a good problem, but I set out to make my own anyway. As far as candy goes, I knew I could make them a little more virtuous at home.

Hugh and I are coming out of a hot cocoa and whipping cream phase and now these almond butter cups are the treat of choice. They are the perfect amount of sweet and rich with the dark chocolate, while the salt on top brightens up the morsel just right. If you're still looking for a Valentine's Day gift or treat to share, these honestly could not be simpler to make and they taste charmingly homemade.

DARK CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTER CUPS // Makes 12-14 minis or 6 full sized cups

I fiddled around with this recipe based on a current affinity for the dark chocolate PB cups at Trader Joes and applied some tips from Alana Chernila of The Homemade Pantry. You could use any nut butter you choose, but note that the amount of natural oil will vary by type and brand. The honey and powdered sugar help the nut butter sieze up, so use your judgement and add a bit more if needed. It should be firm enough to roll in a ball, press down and easily hold that shape. Because I know someone will ask, I suppose you could use all honey and no powdered sugar, just expect a more tender center.I use these muffin liners. They look nice and peel away beautifully from the candy.

  • 7 oz. dark chocolate (not to exceed 70%)
  • 1/2 cup natural almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. fine grain salt
  • sea salt flakes for topping

Break up the chocolate and melt in a double boiler (a pot of simmering water with a bowl resting on top). Stir to make sure it is perfectly smooth.

Set out the liners in a mini muffin tin, this helps them hold shape. Spoon about a teaspoon of the chocolate into the bottom. Tilt and twist it around so the chocolate coats the side of the liner and rest it back in the tin. Repeat with remaining papers. Mix the almond butter, honey, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt together until smooth to make the filling. Scoop out a tsp. of the almond butter filling and gently roll it into a ball between your palms. Give it a press down and center it on top of the thin chocolate puddle. Repeat. Spoon chocolate, about another tsp., on top of each almond butter ball to cover completely. You may need to add a few drops more to get the chocolate to level above the bump of the almond butter. Sprinkle a teensy pinch of flaked sea salt on each one and chill in the fridge to set.

They can be kept in a covered container at room temperature or fridge.

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Reader Comments (99)

Wow. These look amazing! My husband prefers dark chocolate so these are perfect! His face tweaks when you say the words "milk chocolate" Lol. I love my peeps over at my local TJs. We have Howie, who mans the wine department. They have his face illustrated on the racks next to his recommendations, calling them Howie's Zowies. George sounds like a riot!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYumi

They look amazing, so dark and rich. They remind me of a similar chocolate cup I used to make when low-carbing using unsweetened chocolate, sweetener, butter, peanut butter and a little Grand Marnier. They were great and hit the spot, but these days I would prefer yours.

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered

Those look so good, I'd feel bad about eating them in Lent :P

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMagdalen

I made something similar last week with cashew butter - I will definitely be trying your almond butter version soon. I loved having a bowl of them on hand; they are the perfect late night chocolate-hit. Stunning pictures, as ever.

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

Trader Joe's family holla.......didn't know you also worked for them/us, love your blog!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelsi

I love this recipe. My boyfriend actually isn't a huge fan of sweets, which is a bit difficult considering that's all I ever want to make! There is an exception to though--he loves sweets with peanut butter. I've been considering making homemade peanut butter cups for some time and love the addition of honey to the filling in these. I don't have a mini muffin tin, so I'm just wondering whether you think they would turn out in a regular muffin tin?

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha

Wow those look and sound amazing!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Fabulous. I needed this recipe right now BAD! Can't wait to make these :)

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRebekka

The last two photos are perfection! I love how much almond butter is stuffed in there and the sea salt on top is the icing on the cake. Beautiful!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

These are definitely going to be pinned, made, and eaten ASAP!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane @ Vintage Zest

The salt is a nice touch!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterColette @ JFF!

The photographs are gorgeous and everything looks absolutely perfect and delicious! I'll be making these this week but probably won't share any!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNik@ABrownTable

Oh, drooling! beautiful pictures :)

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterannemi

These look delicous. I really want to make some homemade peanut butter cups soon.

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Wow! I am going to try to make these! Reese's peanut butter cups are my favorite, but since we cut out all processed foods I cannot have them! You solved that problem! Thank you!!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTracy

I love your new photography style. Impressionistic. And these look so delectable - perfect for the holiday!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersandra

Peanut butter cups are my weakness and I absolutely love the idea of making them at home!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAna Sofia

Every since I discovered almond butter, I cannot keep my spoon out of it! These are just gorgeous, and I love the use of dark chocolate too. What a special treat!


February 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterinês oliveira

These sound wonderful! I love that they use dark chocolate and are vegan (unless you're a vegan who doesn't eat honey.) Can't wait to get back to my mini-muffin tins and make some. They'll be perfect for Christmas, too, (and maybe Easter??!!)


February 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

Ravishing..drop-dead the shine on that melty chocolate.

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDorie {Brooklyn Salt}

my husband makes a snack where he mixes peanut butter,honey and powdered milk. I think I will make these for him and substitute the powdered sugar with the powder milk. He will love these!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Ring

This is a dangerously easy recipe! Please don't judge me, but I ran out to get mini muffin liners right after reading this and I had everything else in my kitchen already. The recipe as written above made 17 mini cups for me, with some peanut butter mixture left over.

One question...When did you put the salt on top? Mine melted right into the chocolate instead of leaving pretty flakes. But if you wait to long, the flakes won't stick...What is the magic window of time to sprinkle chocolate with salt?

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

@Liz - I love it :) I find they take about 10-15 minutes to cool completely in the fridge. I put the salt on about halfway through and find that it doesn't all dissolve. Hope that helps!

February 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

@Natasha - the tin helps the cups stay upright and keep shape while the ingredients are warm. A regular size tin will work if you're making large ones (which are just as popular) but it won't support the sides of the mini ones. It can be done without, the sides will just flop out a bit.

February 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

Is the powdered sugar necessary..without #paleo!
Maybe a tad more honey?

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDawnette

@Dawnette - I'd guess so, check my head note.

February 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

First, I must make these. I mean, yum. Second, I've been following your blog for awhile, and I'm just in love with the photography. So dreamy. The cookbook is wonderful as well. Thanks for making such beautiful and tasty work!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSincerely Jill

George sounds awesome. I love people like that, folks who are so confident and unconcerned by the way "most people" live that they can be so shockingly, fabulously authentic. Plus, it makes life much more amusing for the rest of us! Lovely narrative, and beautiful treats. xo

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

A friend of mine brought something similar to dinner the other night. I could not stop from eating them! It was that, "oh they're so small, one more won't count" kind of thoughts that kept me going back! It may be dangerous now that I have a recipe : )

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJacqui

That looks excellent!,

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNieves

I share your love of Trader Joe's dark choc. PB cups. Can't wait to make these!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMonika

Yep -- totally drooling on my computer screen. YUM.

oh no, i have all of those ingredients! oh yes, i have all those ingredients!!! :)

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterashley e

You are making my mouth water. Drool more like it.

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

Sara, Could you clarify that the almond butter filling includes all the ingredients except the chocolate? I read and re-read your post but couldn't find where (if) you mentioned what constitutes the filling. Just wanted to double check before I made these. Thanks for the fun inspiration, Mary Margaret

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary Margaret

@Mary Margaret - sorry that was a bit unclear, I fixed it. Yes, the ingredients after the chocolate mix together for the filling. The flaked salt goes on top.

February 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

These look really beautiful! I plan to make it with peanut butter today:)

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterManasa

I'd leave out the powdered sugar. Trying a less refined life for me, my kiddies, and my mom.

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

Dear Sara, holding your book in hands is pure peasure! I love it from the cover to the very last page. The only thing I miss is variety of Hugh's photos for each and every recipe because book contains only 1-2 photos for a recipe. On the other hand, I am encouraged to visit your blog more often for new inspirations and new photos!
I will definately try to cook chocolade butter cups during the weekend and currently I am searching for substitution for nut butter since it is very hard to find it here in Russia.

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulia Plow

My goodness, your photos. Gorgeous, you guys.

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjillian

Wow! These look amazing! I want to run home and make them right now. I love your story about George - it was fun and entertaining to read and the perfect lead in to this recipe. p.s. - I love the TJ sample station.

Vanilla? Where does the vanilla go? With the chocolate?

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKari

These. Look. Amazing. (enough said)

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline @ Pink Basil

I made these last night with peanut butter for Valentines Day. A-maz-ing! Seriously, these are crazy good.

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

George sounds like an awesome dude. I want to hang out with him! I've been on a serious chocolate bender and just might have to make these beautiful little treats before it's over. Delicious.

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryne

these look lovely! i have also made a version with coconut oil-they set up fast!

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterem

These are gorgeous!! An awesome take on an old stand-by. And as others have said, easy to make. Scary easy to make. Thank you!

February 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

beautiful photography!!!!!

February 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermanu

I made these for my valentines and then LOVED watching them eat one after the next. These were so easy and so delicious!!!

February 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterheatherseattle

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