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I'm making a chocolate covered peanut-butter treat this weekend. I'm going to play with the recipe, to have less fat and calories, and I'd like some suggestions.

3 lbs. confectioners sugar
1 lb. butter
2 lbs. peanut-butter
3 tbsp. vanilla

Reducing the amount of butter and sugar comes to mind, but I'm wondering how it will affect the taste and texture.

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5 Answers 5

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When I make buckeyes using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, I tend to reduce the amount of butter a little, and the sugar a lot. Then I increase the graham crackers, and add some low-sugar puffed rice (Rice Krispies-like cereal) for texture. You might be able to work with some "filler" ingredients like that to make up for the lost fat from the butter. The cream cheese in this recipe probably helps to counter any reduction in butter so that might be worth experimenting with in various amounts; you could use Neufchâtel cheese instead of cream cheese to reduce the fat there.

Another great option is homemade peanut butter. Your basic creamy Skippy-brand peanut butter has 17g of fat in 2tbsp. Creamy Jif has 16g in 2tbsp. Depending on what recipe you use, you can reduce that quite a bit - this recipe has about 11g of fat in 2tbsp. That's a huge difference when you scale it up to 2 lbs!

Obviously with all these substitutions they won't taste exactly the same as you're used to, but for what it's worth, I made the buckeyes exactly as the recipe said the first time; the second time I modified it as I said in the first paragraph (using store-bought peanut butter) and I preferred the latter much, much more. The original version was just too sweet...and the original version is a modification of another recipe that used double the confectioner's sugar!

Since this treat you're making is likely similar to the buckeyes (in that you don't need to bake at any point), I would highly recommend cutting the ingredients down to very small amounts, and try making a few different versions and having a taste test with some variations.

As an aside, one tip I learned through practice: if you're dipping peanut butter treats (instead of pouring the melted chocolate onto them), and are having trouble with them being too crumbly when you reduce the butter and thus they are falling apart into the chocolate, you can freeze the peanut butter balls/treats for a while to make them firmer - this makes them much easier to dip.

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Thanks, there are some great ideas there. –  uncle brad Dec 18 '10 at 3:51
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Well, from the look of things, reducing the butter and sugar will just result in a smaller recipe--that's almost all there is!

You might be able to substitute some kind of starch for some of the sugar. I wouldn't use flour, since you won't be cooking these and it would leave them tasting strongly of raw flour. I don't know what starch would work, but that's my best guess. Apart from that, I would think you could cut back on the butter a little (but not too much, or they'll become crumbly).

For my money, though, I think if you're worrying about sugar and fat, or calories in general, you need to find something else to make. These are nothing but sugar and fat (seeing as PB is mostly fat).

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Good point about the fat. I thought I might try adding some tapioca to make up for lost sugar. –  uncle brad Dec 18 '10 at 1:59
    
I don't know for sure if tapioca starch has flavor at all, but it would have been my first guess as a possibility. –  bikeboy389 Dec 18 '10 at 2:18
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Well personally I would cut the sugar in half (at least) and possibly reduce the butter (not sure what that will do to the texture). Then I would form them into cubes or something and dip them in tempered dark chocolate, which happens to be delicious and (depending of how much sugar there is in it) healthy.

I rarely make peanut butter candy, but I've never see a recipe with the high a ratio of sugar to peanut butter or butter to peanut butter. The recipes I have used have been about 50% or more peanut butter and still tasted too sweet to me.

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Have you considered not adding any of the sugar or the butter? I baked peanut butter cookies and just used straight peanut butter and they were great. Unless it is fundamental to the rest of the treat it may be just fine as it is.

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I've made peanut butter candies with a very similar recipe before, without butter. Peanut butter and confectioner's sugar make a peanut butter filling like those in Reese's candies, and the vanilla is probably for flavor. The recipe I've used also had more peanut butter than sugar -- I'd start with the peanut butter and add sugar to taste rather than adding the whole amount. Still, it's going to be a candy of some sort, it's not going to be exactly healthy.

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