Mini Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Candy Peanut Butter Cups.
Guess what, guess what, guess what?!?!
I made us a healthier alternative to Halloween candy this year!!
I know, me? Queen of butter, sugar and pure chocolate decadence? Hey wait, give me some credit, I do enjoy a healthier treat every now and again. I mean, I am somewhat of a normal person, I like balance. Actually, to be honest, Halloween candy pretty much grosses me out because of the loads upon loads of sugar… and the corn syrup. I am not a corn syrup fan. I mean, I’ll use it if I have too, but I try my best to stay away from it. It’s just so much sugar and so processed. It gives me the creeps. The creeps guys.
I do think I will forever be a Reese’s girl at heart though. It’s the combo of peanut butter and chocolate that I will always love so much. Oh, and Malley’s Milk Chocolate bars. Oh, and I can’t leave out the occasional Snickers at Christmas in mom’s Death By Chocolate. Yep, these three are probably my favorites.
Today though, I took the idea of a Reese’s and layered in some honeyed pumpkin seed candy. It’s almost like caramel, but on the healthier side and with toasted pepitas (SO GOOD) and salted peanuts. It’s a little crunch, plus a little creamy and all things delicious.
On a very random note here, pumpkin seeds kind of remind me of chicken feed. I don’t know why because chicken feed is like tiny little pebbles and looks nothing like cute pumpkin seeds, but still pumpkin seeds seem like they would be good chicken feed. Well actually, I know they are because I have been feeding all my winter squash seeds to the chicks and they love em.
Speaking of the chicks, my dad thinks I need to tell you guys all about our broody mother hen. Oh yeah, a broody hen is as serious as it sounds.
Just kidding, but it was a little bit of a pain for a few days… well, for my dad anyway.
So, if you are wondering what a broody hen is, it’s a female chicken who wants to hatch her eggs. The thing is, our said hen doesn’t have a rooster to help her along with the process, so she just sits and sits and sits, trying to protect eggs that will never actually hatch. It’s her motherly instinct kicking in and now that I am writing about it, it seems a little sad.
When we realized what she was doing, my dad had to pick her up out of her nesting box (where they lay eggs) and separate her. Otherwise she would stop producing eggs for the 21 day brooding period, plus 5 weeks afterward. Let me just say, she was NOT a happy hen. It’s her job to protect her eggs, so you can only imagine how angry she was. AND she was sitting on five eggs for like two days. Five eggs you guys. That is a lot for one hen. She was stealing and hoarding the eggs from the other two hens!
Apparently they will sit on their eggs for the entire 21 days without taking in practically any food or water. This compromises their immune system and they become vulnerable to parasites. They can also lose up to 1/3 of their body weight. Plus, it encourages the other hens to become broody too. Again, leaving no eggs.
Anyway, we had to keep her in an isolated cage for a day and this kept her from wanting to lay eggs because of the cold ground. Hens like to lay on warm bedding, so keeping her isolated on the cold ground freaked her out enough to break her of her broodiness, or motherly ways. Or at least this is what I got from my dad. He said it all in a way that made much more sense, but me relaying stuff is never quite as clear. I am sorry, but just know that we had one pissed off moma chicken… and now Asher is begging for a rooster so the moma chicken can be happy and have lots of baby chicks.
Can you say freak show?
Sooo, now I should maybe tell you a little more about these Pumpkin Seed Candy Peanut Butter Cups, huh?
They are a great little treat for this time of year. You can make them for Halloween or make the as a holiday dessert OR even make them as homemade holiday gifts. They are kind of perfect because you can make them work for pretty much anyone. Or well, almost anyone. Sorry to the people with a peanut allergy, these clearly aren’t for you. But wait, actually you could swap almond butter or cashew butter. Both would be awesome. So see, pretty much everyone can eat these. They can even be made vegan friendly if need be, which makes them perfect for all the upcoming holidays.
And um, if you sprinkling them with a little flaky sea salt it’s the prettiest presentation. Gotta love a pretty chocolate treat!
Ok so, these are fairly simple. Just eight ingredients and only a little hands on time. The most annoying part is lining the cups with chocolate. This is never fun, but you gotta do it. Once that is accomplished the rest is simple.
For the pumpkin seed candy, I used a combo of honey and coconut sugar. I wanted to keep things on the healthier side, so honey it was. But if you need to make these vegan friendly, use maple syrup. It will be a slightly different taste, but still delish. Here’s the deal with the pumpkin seed candy, my family likes it on the softer, chewier side so I boiled my mixture for only a few minutes, but if you want your candy more, well – candy like (meaning harder and crunchier), just boil yours a little longer. It’s all in the directions and either way, soft, semi soft or hard, you really can’t mess these up. They are easy and so good whatever texture you choose.
You can also use dark, semi-sweet or milk chocolate. I went with dark because again, I wanted these to be healthier, but if you prefer milk chocolate go for it.
The bottom line… just make these, and before Friday.
Mini Pumpkin Seed Candy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.
- 2 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips or milk chocolate chips use vegan chocolate if needed
- 24 teaspoons - about a half cup of creamy peanut butter 1 per chocolate cup
- 1 1/2 cups pepitas shelled pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar or granulated sugar
- 1 cup honey use maple syrup for vegan version
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
- Line a mini muffin pan with with 24 liners.
- Melt 1 1/4 cups of chocolate chips (I do mine in the microwave, heating on full power for 30 seconds intervals, stirring after each interval until melted). Drop 1 teaspoon of chocolate into each liner, then use the back of a small spoon to brush the melted chocolate up the sides of the liner. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Once the chocolate is firm, add a teaspoon of creamy peanut butter to each cup. Return to the freezer while you make the pumpkin seed candy.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pepitas and toast, stirring constantly until seeds pop and become slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Place coconut sugar and honey in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, about 3 minutes. Add the pepitas + peanuts and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes or until the temperature registers between 240 and 285 degrees F. on a candy thermometer. I like my candy on the soft side, so I only boiled mine for 3-4 minutes at 240. Remove from heat, and stir in coconut oil and vanilla extract. Allow the mixture to cool for about 3-4 minutes.
- Grab the chocolate cups and divide the candy among the 24 cups. If you boiled your candy to 285 degrees F. You need to work quickly or the candy will firm up on you.
- Once all the cups are filled, melt the remaining chocolate chips, then cover the candy with chocolate, smoothing with a spoon. If desired sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
- Place in the fridge until the chocolate is firm, about 20 minutes. These are fine if left out at room temperature for a few hours (they may soften a bit) but I like them best stored in the fridge.
And with that, I am done.