Growing up, my sister and I were both heavily involved in sports. Softball, basketball, track, soccer, volleyball…we did it all. In at least 30% of those sports, our dad was our coach. I guess we liked to keep it in the family – still not sure if that was a good idea or not. I’ll get back to you on that one.
When I was still a bit younger and learning the ropes in basketball, I would go to my sister’s rec league games on weekends and watch the older kids play. My dad would coach – naturally – and I got to sit in the stands next to my mom who was feverishly – and poorly – filming the action, missing whole segments of the game when she’d get worked up over plays, put down the camera and start yelling at the players and referees. My mom is 5’2″ and weighs a buck ten. She’s pint sized and she means business. It’s hilarious and adorable and terrifying all at the same time. Trust me, I was there.
Obviously, these games were the best. Don’t worry, I’m getting to the candy part…
Between quarters I’d swindle a few bucks out of my mom and mosey down to the concession stand – one of the main reasons I loved sports at that age. Play a game, get a snow cone. I’m in.
My sugar of choice at the time was either Snicker’s or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Snickers were more of a grocery store check out line operation (please mom? please?). But Reese’s? All ball game. There were two, they were salty and sweet, and they achieved the perfect melt in the muggy heat of an old gym filled with sweaty pre-adolescent bodies. Plus, not too much to fill you up so you still have room for nachos and whatnot. I was methodic about my candy even at 6.
More bizarre than my selection theory was my method of consumption. I would only take bites when my sister scored a basket or did something “good.” She made a good pass, bite. She made a free-throw, bite. She made a 3-pointer? Two bites. I had my tactics down.
This just proves my storied and colorful history with peanut butter cups.
But it wasn’t until adulthood that I fell in love with almond butter. Upon trying my first almond butter cup I was hooked. Not necessarily better than peanut butter (don’t get it twisted), but seriously up there. It was only natural to explore flavor combinations, especially since somebody in this house is obsessed with all-things caramel.
Besides, I needed an excuse to make another batch of my 4-ingredient bourbon caramel sauce. 6 months without that stuff is 7 months too long if you catch my drift.
These cups are pretty straight forward, taking about 15 minutes total to make once you have your caramel sauce ready (add 15 minutes). And though they take a little fancy handwork with tipping, filling and pouring, the effort is undeniably worth it. I mean, look at these things. C’mon.
After a quick chill these guys are ready to go straight into your mouth. I reluctantly shared half of this batch with friends so I wouldn’t immediately engulf the entire recipe all by myself. (Trust me, I would so hide these from John all over the house and sneak bites when he wasn’t looking. At least I’m honest.)
These are the perfect DIY candies for Valentine’s Day and beyond. They’re:
Drenched in caramel
Offset with a pinch of salt on top
In other words, perfection in cup form.
I don’t employ the same consumption methods as I once clung to in my youth. There’s less waiting involved as these cups call for a quick chop in half to let the caramel ooze out, followed by a messy scramble to get in every nibble before the caramel escapes your grasp. It’s like a game – a drippy, delicious candy game. The best kind of game.
Enjoy these cups, OK? I mean, there’s no way you possibly wouldn’t. Seriously. It’s science.
- 1 1/2 cups (~8 ounces) dairy-free semisweet or dark chocolate chips (or bar, chopped)
- 1/3 cup natural roasted salted almond butter
- 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
- ~1/2 cup Bourbon Caramel Sauce (or sub other caramel sauce)*
- Melt your chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30-second increments.
- Set out 12 mini paper liners and rest them in a mini muffin tin if you have it. Otherwise, just set them on a plate close together. If you don't have mini paper liners, use regular size ones instead - it should make half as many (~7).
- Once your chocolate is melted, spoon about 1 heaping teaspoon of chocolate into each liner and use a small brush or back of a spoon to swirl the chocolate around and coat the bottoms and almost all the way up the sides. You want to make sure your fillings are fully contained, so be sure it's well coated.
- Next, mix together your almond butter and powdered sugar, adding enough sugar and stirring until you have almost a dough that's almost workable with your hands. Spoon out heaping 1/2 Tablespoon measurements and plop them into the liners, nestling them in the chocolate. Tap down with finger to smooth out any lumps.
- Next, top with about 1 tsp of caramel - enough to seep into the cracks and just barely cover the almond butter. Don't overfill unless you want messy cups (which I'm totally OK with).
- Lastly, top with remaining melted chocolate and use a brush or spoon to smooth and seal the edges. Sprinkle with a touch of sea salt (optional) and set in the fridge or freezer to set.
- You can store these at room temp, in the fridge or in the freezer, though I prefer the freezer because it keeps the caramel set and they're a little easier to eat that way.