Honey-Sweetened GAPS Peanut Butter Cups

Honey-Sweetened Peanut Butter Cups | OUR NOURISHING ROOTS

These peanut butter cups might be my greatest recipe creation to date.  They just turned out exactly like I wanted, and that is so satisfying!  I used to make a version of peanut butter cups that had coconut oil in both the chocolate and peanut butter mixtures, but I would have to store them in the freezer and they really didn’t taste like what I wanted.  Now I know that what I was missing was the proper fat.

Cocoa butter has a melting point around 100 degrees which, when compared to coconut oil’s 76 degrees, makes it a much better fat to use in homemade candies that you want to set up and harden at room temperature.  Plus it has such a wonderful understated flavor, smooth and chocolatey.  Not to mention the fact that the company on my resource page supplies a very high quality cocoa butter: food grade, organic, and raw-processed.  The scent and flavor should be rich yet delicate.

I only became aware of cocoa butter for baking a few months ago.  Usually you find cocoa butter for use in making lip balms and lotions.  I tried this recipe for Cocoa-Butter Cupcakes, but it was very difficult to translate to American measurements.  I am still working on a cupcake recipe that will work with being grain-free.  I love the flavor of cocoa butter in baked goods.  You can use cocoa butter as a replacement for butter in most recipes.

Ever finding out that I can digest cocoa powder* just fine, I have been on the lookout for honey-sweetened chocolate for the occasional GAPS treat.  But I have been sorely disappointed.  I have found honey-sweetened chocolates online, but they are a bit pricey and half the time contain soy lechithin anyways.  So then I found out about cocoa butter and decided I would simply make my own!

I have always loved white chocolate over any milk or dark chocolate counterparts.  Now I know that true white chocolate is made with cocoa butter only and then sweetened and scented with vanilla.  No cocoa liqueur or powder is used in white chocolate, which is perfect for people on the GAPS diet.  Cocoa beans, when harvested, are processed into half cocoa butter and half cocoa liqueur.  The cocoa butter fat is much easier to digest than the other half of the cocoa bean after processing: the cocoa liqueur, which is usually processed to a powder for use in baking.

Some GAPS people can handle cocoa liqueur or cocoa powder without digestive upset.  I am one of those lucky ones.  This peanut butter cup recipe is for those who can digest both the cocoa butter and cocoa powder.  If you still cannot handle the dark brown, classic part of the cocoa bean called cocoa powder, just stick to the cocoa butter alone.  I will be adding more recipes using cocoa butter over the next few months.  Look for a white chocolate chip recipe soon!

In the GAPS FAQ you can find this statement on reintroducing cocoa powder:

Cocoa is SCD illegal. However, I find that many people can start having it occasionally on the Full GAPS Diet, once the digestive symptoms are gone. Find pure organic cocoa powder. Mixing the powder with some honey and sour cream makes a delicious dessert, and you can add it to your homemade ice cream or cakes. After trying it for the first time, observe your patient for any reactions. Cocoa is very rich in magnesium and some essential amino acids and, unless your digestive system is not ready for it, there is no need to avoid it.

We are making these peanut butter cups as Christmas gifts for this year.  I think they will be perfect wrapped up by fours in a clear bag, or perhaps a small pastry box.  When made with real, clean ingedients, these peanut butter cups are rich and satisfying.  You might only need to eat half of a cup at a time, savoring the flavors as they melt in your mouth.

I also use coffee in all my chocolate recipes.  The combination of coffee with chocolate does not always impart a “mocha” flavor.  In this case, you can’t taste the coffee, but the coffee enhances the flavor of the chocolate to where the chocolate tastes better.  I even made two batches, one with the coffee and one without.  You really can taste the difference that way.  The one with coffee in it just tastes more rounded out.  Fascinating!


Honey-Sweetened Peanut Butter Cups
makes 24 peanut butter cups

for the chocolate:
8 ounces cocoa butter (buy food-grade, organic cocoa butter here)
1 cup cocoa powder* (buy cocoa powder here)
1/2 cup raw set honey (buy raw honey here)
2 tablespoons brewed strong coffee (buy organic fair trade coffee here)
2 teaspoons good vanilla (buy extracts here)

for the peanut butter filling:
1/4 cup peanut butter (buy organic peanut butter here)
2 tablespoons palm shortening (buy organic palm shortening here)
2 tablespoons raw, set honey (buy raw honey here)
1 teaspoon vanilla (buy extracts here)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (buy unrefined sea salt here)

Note: Make sure that no water or steam from the simmering water comes in contact with your chocolate mixture.  This can cause your beautifully smooth creation to suddenly seize into a grainy mass.  Remember that cocoa powder is like flour and if you add a little water then it will turn to a paste; also remember that even though the cocoa butter looks like a liquid it is going back to a solid state, so even a small amount of water will cause it not to set up properly.

  1. Line the mini muffin pan with paper liners.  Set aside.
  2. Set a completely dry heatproof bowl over a saucepan with simmering water over medium low heat.  Add cocoa butter and melt gently, stirring occasionally.  When completely melted, add cocoa powder and honey, whisking to combine.
  3. Now add coffee and vanilla, whisking vigorously until smooth.  Remove carefully from heat and set onto a towel to dry the bottom of the bowl completely.  When you are sure there is absolutely no water on the bowl, set it next to your muffin pan filled with liners to cool a bit.
  4. Make the peanut butter filling: in a medium bowl stir together peanut butter, palm shortening, honey, vanilla, and salt until smooth.  Set aside.
  5. Ladle slightly cooled chocolate into lined muffin cups, a little less than half full.  Then, using the ice cream scoop half full, make small balls of peanut butter by rolling the scoops of dough in your hands.  Then flatten them slightly into a disk.  Drop each peanut butter disk into muffin cup.  Ladle more chocolate over the top until the peanut butter is covered and the cups are full.

  6. Let sit at room temperature until solidified.  Chomp!
*Cocoa powder is not allowed on GAPS Intro Diet or the first several months you are on GAPS.  However, you can reintroduce cocoa powder after all your digestive symptoms have disappeared, and even then excercise caution and go slow.  (Cocoa butter is a fat, and can be consumed on the full GAPS diet as soon as you start.)

This post is a part of Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Simple Lives Thursday, Full Plate Thursdays, Pennywise Platter, Real Food Wednesday, Healthy2day Wednesday, The Mommy Club, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Traditional Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania, and Sunday School.

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  1. These look fantastic!! Thanks so much for sharing this with us- I love all the photos 🙂

  2. Heather Brandt says:

    Can anything be substituted for palm shortening or is that a necessary ingredient?

    • You can use coconut oil instead of palm shortening. Palm shortening works better, but since it’s the filling, I don’t think it will matter too much 🙂

  3. I love this recipe .. for me I would make it with carob powder and chocolate extract as I don’t like to use cocoa powder and coffee even though we are not on GAPS. I’ll bet it would turn out great! 🙂

    • Good to see you here Sarah 🙂 I just bought my first carob powder a few weeks ago and have yet to try it. I need to try chocolate extract, and maybe coffee extract if I can find them. I think it would be a bit easier to use those in baking since they would be ready in extract bottles.

  4. These look amazing! I’m so happy that someone else is using the cocoa butter I asked Annette to procure.

    I have not used palm shortening — is it white or is it the deep red color and how does it taste? I think I tasted palm oil and did not like it — but the shortening may be different.

    • It’s the white kind that has a neutral taste. I tried a bit of the red palm oil once and felt the same way: it’s too intense! You can use coconut oil instead though.

      I didn’t know that you were the one who got Annette to get the cocoa butter! I have bought some from a local specialty store (very expensive!), and Mountain Rose Herbs, before I learned that Wilderness had it in stock. I absolutely love it. I want to make more white chocolate items though, to cut back on cocoa powder…

  5. I was just about to make peanut butter cups with coconut oil, freezer style. These look so much better! Now I have to order some cocoa butter! Thanks a lot. 😉

  6. I am in love with your Peanut Butter Cups, the addition of the coffee did it for me. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!
    Come Back Soon,
    Miz Helen

  7. I love this recipe!!!!! Kendahl you are so talented!

  8. crdanford@yahoo.com says:

    Do you think I can make this with almond or cashew butter instead? My lo is allergic to peanuts.

  9. These were delicious–not too sweet and dark, dark chocolate!

  10. I have a (possibly dumb) question. Where the recipe says 2 T. strong coffee, is that coffee grounds or brewed coffee? I’m thinking brewed coffee, but wouldn’t that cause the chocolate to seize?

  11. I didn’t think that cocoa was allowed on GAPS. Is this a cheat or is some types ok?

    • Cocoa is not allowed on intro diet, or for the first several months on GAPS at least. You need to wait until all your digestive symptoms have died down before trying a small amount of cocoa powder. You can see the explanation in the GAPS FAQ here under “cocoa”: http://gaps.me/preview/?page_id=32. I am one of the lucky ones that can digest cocoa powder at about 8 months in on GAPS. But even then I keep it to treats only, and not very often. (Cocoa butter, on the other hand, is fine! Which is great news, and I will be posting a white chocolate chip recipe soon!)

      So no, cocoa isn’t a cheat, since there aren’t really any “cheats” on GAPS. GAPS is too strict of a regimen for that. But that being said, I should put a note in the original post, so I will add it. Thanks! Sorry for the confusion 🙂

  12. Its a keeper! Thanks! I did not get 24 out of the recipe, maybe I made my little peanut butter balls too big? There was extra chocolate, so that’s what I’m thinking even though they didn’t look to big to me 😉 I just poured some coconut flakes in the leftover chocolate and then filled the remaining cups so now I get two varieties of treats!

  13. I am making this for my husband’s birthday later this month. Looks and sounds amazing! Thanks. And will make it with almond or pecan butter for myself.

  14. This looks SO good, though I don’t like peanut butter so some sort of peppermint filing would be good 🙂

    I’m going to make some of the chocolate so can make chocolate chip cookies… but I’m unsure about what raw set honey is? I couldn’t find any on the link you gave and I’m wondering if set honey can even be raw?

    • I should explain the set honey better, huh? Sorry for the confusion 🙂 Set honey is raw honey that is very thick. From what I can tell, the Wilderness Family Naturals link on my resource page carries a very high quality raw honey and the picture looks like thick, set honey to me. Usually the raw honey I get is thick, but once in a while I get a thin batch when I order. I’m not sure what the difference is! But I try to have both on hand for when a distinction for thinner or thicker honey matters in a recipe. In these peanut butter cups, it’s better to have thick honey, but it works with either one. Hope this helps!

      I have made the chocolate into chips as well, and they are awesome! I still need to perfect the GAPS chocolate chip cookie, but when I do it’s going up!

  15. What about using butter instead of the palm oil shortening? Would that work? And when you mention set, thick honey, do you mean honey that has crystalized and become really thick?

  16. These look amazing – if I didn’t want to use coffee what would I substitute for that in the recipe??

  17. Oh my god!


    I miss chocolate SO BAD!

    I need my candida to die, my gut to heal completely, so that I can rid myself of my chocolate, egg and dairy intolerances 🙁

    This is amazing! You’ve been bookmarked 😀

  18. Oh Damn! I used fresh ground coffee instead of brewed coffee because it didn’t state brewed coffee and I had the same thought as that other commenter about water in the chocolate mix.. now I can barely eat them… : (
    Maybe you could edit the recipe to save others from a hyper caffeinated peanut butter cup experience!

  19. I notice your emphasis on not just wholesome ingredients (raw, real, etc) but ethical ingredients (fair trade coffee, for example). Given that this is something you value, I wanted to alert you to the problem with palm shortening. As food goes it’s great, but as sourcing goes, it’s hard to do worse than palm oil, in any of its forms. Palm oil comes from (and only from) orangutan habitat. The palm oil industry is THE force that’s driving orangutans to extinction. This was hard info for me to hear when I first stumbled across it, because what are you supposed to do for shortening if not palm oil? The alternatives are gross and unhealthy. Now I use butter instead – I don’t know if it always works ideally as a substitute, but I feel the continued existence of orangutans is worth the slightly less fluffy-or-whatever biscuits, etc. Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Thought you’d appreciate the info.

  20. These look just amazing. My kids are going to love them. I think I’ll give them a shot with coconut oil

  21. Just wondering where to get cocoa butter. Wilderness Family doesn’t have it…..

  22. Wow! These look amazing! I made some from another site last week and I modified the ingredients to make it healthier. It had powdered sugar, so I made some in my blender with pure cane sugar, but this one would be better for us all. It was a lot of sugar! Yours looks much easier and healthier. I have a couple of questions before I try this out. How can I lighten up the chocolate to make it little less intense for the kids (maybe somewhere between a milk and dark chocolate)? Did you have to let the first layer of chocolate harden a bit befor dropping in the peanut butter ball? It seems like it would sink to the bottom if you don’t. I have cocoa butter in my pantry and finally have a reason to use it!

    • The peanut butter ball doesn’t sink much, for some reason. Or at least, I haven’t had that happen to me.

      As for lightening up the chocolate, I am not sure. I have been thinking of this and wondering what would work. In commercial chocolates they use milk powder. But I don’t want to mess with that since milk powder is oxidized and processed. And I don’t think you can add cream or milk to it, because it’s water content is too high and the chocolate won’t set up. BUT, I have recently wondered if adding some sweetened condensed milk would work. I haven’t tried it, but I think that might work! I have a recipe for sweetened, condensed milk here: http://www.ournourishingroots.com/real-food-101-how-to-make-sweetened-condensed-milk/

  23. Wow! Pinning these. They look amazing. Thanks for sharing. Following you from the Village Green Network.

  24. I purchased raw organic cocoa butter for making body lotion. It is a creamy color and smells wonderful. How can I tell if this butter is edible? Thank you.

    • That’s a good question. If possible, contact the manufacturer and ask them if it is “food grade”. Otherwise, you may want to steer clear of it if you’re worried about the quality for consumption. It depends on how much you trust your source too. If they are a very high quality company, then I would trust that more than others.

  25. oh me oh my, I stumbled upon this recipe whilst pondering what to do with my organic cocoa butter, just made them this afternoon while the kids were asleep – they’re amazing! I used coconut oil instead of palm shortening (not sure if we can get that here in New Zealand) and agave syrup in the chocolate – still taste fantastic! I’ll be making these again, thanks!

  26. Yum! I made these last night and they are so, so good! And, easy too. I did substitute hazelnut butter for the filling and used butter instead of palm shortening. This combination was a little oozey and I couldn’t make discs out of it, so I just dropped it into the chocolate with a spoon. It didn’t come out as beautiful as yours, but it worked. And, oh so good. Thanks for the recipe.

  27. I followed recipe exactly and use the same ingredients as you do. But… my chocolate is not setting up too well. There is no water in it at all, and it literally melts in my hand the second I touch it. Any thoughts?

    • Theresa says:

      I’m sorry but I’m not clear on whether or not you can omit the cocoa powder since we are just coming off of GAPs Intro.

      • I haven’t tried omitting the cocoa powder from the recipe, but it’s worth a shot! I just meant that if you aren’t sure about cocoa powder, to avoid making this recipe. BUT: I have a white chocolate recipe HERE that is GAPS-legal. So you could make white chocolate peanut butter cups and that would be super yummy 🙂

  28. Going to make these tomorrow, and freeze, to get a jump on Halloween! Will be using walnut butter though 🙂

    Only thing preventing me from making them this evening is the lack of coffee in the house. Although I have also used a bit of fresh squeezed orange juice and/or orange zest in place of coffee when making cacao baked goods. Using just a little doesn’t taste like orange, just makes the chocolate flavor more intense. Although with being straight chocolate, the orange flavor might be more obvious than when making something like a cake that also has the coconut flour and egg.

  29. you said to use brewed coffee – I just did that, and it ruined my chocolate mixture. did I do something wrong?

  30. Hi!
    I made these and… they taste like dirt! The chocolate! They look so beautiful and set perfectly. I’m wondering if something is wrong with the cocoa butter I used (is there a specific type?? I used some organic kind that I had used to make lotion) or maybe it was the coffee addition?? It wasn’t really bitter… just kind of like dirt. I have never used coconut butter before so maybe it has an “earthy” flavor that I was unaware of… Has anyone had this happen? I was sooo sad I had to throw these away! Any suggestions?

  31. joshua Albanese says:

    darnit. I tried, must have gotten water in. I thought it was going well with the cocoa butter, then added the half cup honey, then cocoa, and whamo. mushy oily paste. tasted ok, but it didnt set. I thought it’s cause of the water in the coffee. I dont understand that concept. ok for coffee water, but not double broiler water? anyways, 15 oz costing $9, I want to get this right, thoughts?


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