Trader Joe's may not realize it, but they are out to ruin me. Why? Because they sell these mini dark chocolate peanut butter cups that I have to work to resist every time I'm in the store (which is a lot). You probably know the ones I'm talking about, and they strategically place them right in front of every cashier so you can't escape them. They're my favorite treat ever, but if I buy them they end up being my next meal. Or six.
So I did what I always do in this situation. I set out to make my own dark chocolate peanut butter cups that would taste equally as scrumptious but with less sugar. Not to pat myself on the back or anything (ok, ya I'm pretty proud of this one), but I've created a treat that I actually like MORE than TJ's that includes brain boosting and stress busting properties. You really can't beat that, right?
As most people who follow me know, I'm a huge fan of adaptogens. Adaptogenic compounds are substances that help the body respond positively to stress and therefore promote relaxation, mental focus and clarity, sustained energy, and optimal hormone balance. For more info on adaptogens check out this article.
As I was concocting my peanut butter cup recipe, I wanted to include some adaptogens to give them an added boost without compromising the flavor. That's where mushrooms save the day. Stay with me...
Certain types of mushrooms, such as cordyceps and reishi, act as powerful adaptogens and have been shown to increase brain health, specifically focus and mental stamina. I've tried a couple different brands, and my favorite is Maju Superfoods Mental Mushrooms. They use 4 different types of organic adaptogenic mushrooms, whereas the other products I've tried only include one or two. The flavor is neutral so it was easy to add without creating any bitterness.
The final product is a rich dark chocolate peanut butter cup that is low in sugar, includes only 5 ingredients, and provides a mental boost. You can't even consider this a dessert, but rather a supplement that you must take daily! :)
Brain Boosting Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Makes: 6 peanut butter cups
Time: 30 minutes to prep, 1 hour to set
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/3 cup cacao or cocoa powder
- 2 tsp honey, maple, or agave
- 3 Tbsp. peanut butter or other nut butter of your choice
- 1 tsp adaptogenic mushroom powder*
- Paper muffin baking cups or silicone muffin pan (you won't be able to get your cups out of a metal baking pan without destroying them so I don't recommend using those)
*If you choose not to use mushroom powder or don't have access to it, there are plenty of other options. You just need a powdery ingredient to thicken your peanut butter. I have used protein powder, collagen powder, and maca for this and they all work great. You can even use more cocoa if you're a serious chocoholic!
In a small mixing bowl, mix the cacao powder, coconut oil, and honey. You can adjust the amount of sweetener to obtain your desired sweetness. I like a very bitter chocolate so I go pretty light on the honey, but you can adjust it to your liking! Pour a thin layer, about a teaspoon, of the chocolate mix into the bottom of each of six baking cups. Make sure the chocolate is evenly spread. Place the cups into the freezer to harden. In the meantime, stir together the peanut butter and thickening agent (mushrooms, protein powder, etc.). You should have a pretty thick substance that you can mold with your hands. You may need to add more powder or PB to get this consistency depending on what brand you're using. Remove your cups from the freezer. Take about a teaspoon of the PB mix and press it into a flat round on top of the chocolate layer. You want the PB to be just smaller than the bottom of your cup, almost to the edges but not quite. Now pour your chocolate mixture over the top of the peanut butter in a thin, smooth layer. Place the cups back in the freezer and allow to set for at least an hour. Enjoy them cold in order to keep the shape.
For an easier but not-so-fancy PB cup, mix ALL the ingredients together in one bowl and pour into muffin cups. Allow to freeze. You won't have that pretty separation of chocolate and peanut butter, but the taste is the same and it's easier and faster to make them that way!