Dark Chocolate Cups with Nut Butter Filling and How NOT to Mess Them Up

Sometimes, just sometimes, things don’t materialize like I plan them. It happens in every area of life, you know?

Like getting braces practically the first time I walk into a dentist office.

Or watching the garden burn up from withering hot temperatures of 113 with no sun-ripened, picked-right-off-the-vine, heirloom tomatoes in sight.

Or turning 30 so soon!

Or making imitation Reese’s cups that don’t turn out. That one really gets me.

Somehow we get carried along as “life goes on” and one unplanned thing after another rises off the pages of our carefully written script morphing into something we never imagined. As annoying as these little (or sometimes huge!) edits can be, I know that they will make the story better – more readable. In the end, when the last page is turned and the cover softly closes, we will see why it all happened like it did, and how the tweaks and turns are what made the story one that just couldn’t be put down until it was over.

In other words, I trust the Editor. It doesn’t always make sense – in fact, it rarely makes sense, but I know the One Who really authors my life knows what He is doing. I’ll leave the pen with Him…

…and keep making messes in the kitchen.

So, I don’t know about you, but I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Well, I used to. That was before my taste buds started changing and milk chocolate started tasting like chocolate milk, or milk with sugar, or something like that.  A couple weeks ago a friend of mine turned me on to making my own chocolate nut butter treats using healthful ingredients. Rich dark chocolate, coconut oil, peanut butter and honey – that’s about it!

The first batch I made turned out great using a mixture of honey and maple syrup to sweeten. Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared to blog about it, so I made another batch about a week later. This time I used maple butter and honey for sweetener and butter instead of coconut oil. If you like gooey, caramel-y treats follow this route, but this wasn’t the result I wanted.

Nix that (well, eat that!) and try again! My Dad had mentioned trying an almond filling, so that was my next test.

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best…” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.

I decided to use just honey to sweeten and I knew immediately something wasn’t right with the chocolate. If it hardened it’d be okay though…

The filling was 3 heaping T. almond butter, 1 T. coconut oil, 2 T. honey and 1 t. vanilla. Pour a heaping teaspoon of chocolate into foil or paper muffin liners (foil holds it’s shape best). Dollop a teaspoon of almond filling in the middle.

Drizzle with remaining chocolate and freeze.

Something was not right.

The chocolate was too soft. Not gooey, but not what I wanted either. And it made a mess on the wrapper!

Definitely not good.

Back to the drawing table, so to speak.

Chocolate  –

2 heaping T. coconut oil

6 heaping T. cocoa powder

1/3 c. maple syrup

Yes, this was it.

This time for the filling I used plain peanut butter as the almond butter was too mildly flavored in my opinion. You can add coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla for more flavor, but I liked the sweet/salty combo of the peanut butter all by itself.

Now we’re talkin’!

I tried one more batch using butter instead of coconut oil. It worked fine, but the coconut oil is my favorite. I love how it melts in your mouth.

Besides, coconut oil is my “bestest” friend right now. I don’t know why one’s lips get so dry with braces, but there’s nothing like your upper lip sitting on top of a shelf of metal because it’s too dry to slide over it. Was that too much information? Sorry!

Yes, I got my braces on yesterday and so far it hasn’t been too bad. Should I be worried that it’s not as painful as the spacers? And I can chew real food – though I have to be very careful that I don’t bite wrong. My front teeth are very sensitive.

Here’s the end results recipe – if you haven’t had enough about chocolate and peanut butter already!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate  –

2 heaping T. coconut oil

6 heaping T. cocoa powder

1/3 c. maple syrup

Filling –

plain natural peanut butter or

3 heaping T. peanut butter, or almond butter

1 T. coconut oil

1-2 T. maple syrup or honey (honey works fine in the filling part)

1 t. vanilla

Combine chocolate ingredients in sauce pan and warm just until melted and combined. Spoon a good teaspoon of chocolate sauce into 15 muffin liners. Place in freezer and chill 5 minutes while you combine the ingredients for the filling.

Remove from freezer and place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of chocolate base. Flatten a bit with the spoon and drizzle on remaining chocolate (about a teaspoon each). Freeze until hardened – about 20 minutes.

Of Fresh Tomato Bisque and Braces

I never gave much thought to braces. I’ve never wanted them and, to be honest, I wondered why some people did. Their teeth looked fine to me… I guess deep down I thought braces were rather vain.

Everyone needs a fresh perspective at times and, apparently, now is one of those times for me. I got my spacers today and the form for my braces. As I sit here typing away I keep pressing my tongue up against my teeth in hopes of making that awful feeling go away. I tell myself it’s only going to get worse.

“Three days on pain meds” the dentist told me. And I wonder if there isn’t an easier way to do this. I could let this baby canine fall out on it’s own and go with a missing tooth for the rest of my life…but I’m too vain for that. So I go with the pricy, painful braces and the “chain” that will hopefully pull my adult tooth down into the place that it should have occupied 15 years ago.

“What were you thinking Adult Canine? That we wouldn’t notice you never showed up? That you could hide away forever and let life pass you by?”

It’s time to bite the bullet. I dread it. I thought I was fairly good at tolerating pain, but the thought of the impending affliction – along with my now aching teeth – is turning me wuss.

Despite the fact that my tooth hasn’t been extracted yet, that I don’t have the braces on yet and that the chain (I’m picturing a truck hauler chain here. You know, the ones you can only pick up one end at a time.) is not pulling my adult tooth down yet, I have a growing sympathy for anyone that has gone through orthodontic procedures.  Who would have thought that spacers would grow compassion? God uses the small and seemingly insignificant things.

I can do this. I’m preparing my mental attitude.

But more to the point of this blog, I’m planning defense tactics too. Ice Cream, miso soup, smoothies, Blackberry panna cotta and chilled tomato bisque.

I’ve mentioned this bisque before and linked the recipe, but it’s too good not to blog about. And if any of you blog readers are bracing for orthos, and looking for something smooth and cool to eat that isn’t all sweets, you’ll love me for it.

Fresh Tomato Bisque

3 c. tomatoes

1/4 c. raw cashews, soaked in water for 4-6 hours

1/2 c. water

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1 T. olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 T. lemon juice

1 t. honey

2 T. fresh basil

Simply put everything in the blender…

And blend until smooth.

Chill and enjoy at leisure.

Save a jar for tomorrow.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to eat some of Mom’s crusty sourdough bread with this tonight. Perhaps if I soak it in soup long enough…