I blame these on Trader Joe’s.
Because, guess what?
Trader Joe’s opened in Utah last week.
I am so beside myself, I can hardly contain my excitement. And I am not alone. The Salt Lake Trader Joe’s was the biggest opening in the history of the chain. Biggest opening day and biggest opening weekend. It’s kind of a big deal if you consider that is without the sale of alcohol. We are in Utah after all……so even though we don’t drink, apparently we like grocery stores that do virtually zero advertising.
My mom and I made a morning of our first visit last week and spent a good hour or so browsing the isles picking up our favorite items as well as trying some new ones. I went a little crazy in the perishable and frozen foods sections. My new favorite finds are frozen kale and mini frozen croissants that you let rise and then bake for those lazy Saturday mornings when only a straight from the oven pastry will do and you don’t want to put a bra on and go out in public. You know those mornings.
But my new favorite, favorite item might be the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles that somehow jumped into my cart while I was standing at the check out line. I have one word for you: ohmygod. Every thing you want in a sweet is wrapped up in one little bite. My mom and I weren’t even ten minutes out the door (of course we opened them right away to try them) and I declared to her that we had to try and recreate them when we got together to do our annual holiday baking day a few days later.
So what could have been a typical Sunday actually turned out to be a day my life changed for the better and the recreation of the truffles was born. I don’t really make much candy (like I’ve never made it in my life) and have no idea how to even attempt making a truffle so instead I did the next logical thing. I made peanut butter cups and filled them with caramel and topped them with sea salt. Dare I say these are even better than the Trader Joe’s truffles???? Duh, of course they are! They’re homemade. And you can never go wrong when you start from scratch and go at it with love.
These homemade peanut butter cups are so over the top, I don’t want you to be surprised if you close your eyes and starting making weird throat noises while you’re eating them. No one will notice because they’ll be doing the same thing. I promise. So really, all I have to say is, make them. Share them or don’t, but make them. They will be the easiest and best thing you put in your mouth this entire holiday season.
ps- Is anyone else weirded out by my teeth marks on the peanut butter cups in all the pictures?
The ultimate homemade peanut butter cup with caramel and sea salt.
- 16 oz chocolate chips (any combination is fine, I used 75% dark & 25% milk)
- 1 teaspoon shortening
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup thick caramel sauce (I used Trader Joe's Salted Caramel Sauce)
- flakey sea salt (like Maldon)
- Prepare a 24-cup mini muffin tin with small cupcake liners.
- For the peanut butter filling, mix peanut butter, softened butter, 1/4 cup powdered sugar and vanilla together until smooth and combined. If the mixture isn't as thick or as sweet as you like, add a tablespoon of powdered sugar at time get desired consistency; Set aside
- Place chocolate and shortening in a microwave safe bowl and cook on high at 30 second intervals, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Spoon roughly a teaspoon of the melted chocolate into each liner and use either the back of a spoon or a pastry brush (my personal favorite) to coat the inside of the liner and sides with chocolate. Repeat a couple times to make sure there is a good layer of chocolate. Chill the whole pan for 10-15 minutes until chocolate hardens. Fill each liner with a heaping teaspoon of peanut butter filling and press down a bit to flatten. Top the peanut butter filling with a dollop of caramel. Top with remaining melted chocolate to evenly cover the caramel and peanut butter and fill to the edges. Sprinkle the tops with a small pinch of sea salt.
- Chill for another 10-15 minutes until chocolate hardens again.
- Store in the fridge until ready to serve.