Back in May, my friend Sally mentioned that Trader Joe’s sold dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Already infatuated with Reese’s milk chocolate version, I immediately scribbled down her suggestion on my grocery list, fully intending to grab a package on my next trip.
However… The temperatures during our summer months shoot up past 100° where I live and basically refuse to cool off, even during the late evenings and early mornings, so when I stopped by TJ’s with the plan to drive past Walmart and the bank afterward, I nearly slapped my palm against my forehead.
Those dark chocolate peanut butter cups would melt in two seconds flat in my car!
(Yes, I seriously debated sticking the package into my purse while running the rest of my errands. Please tell me I’m not the only one…)
I played it safe that day and held off until my next grocery trip, but the same thing happened again and again… I planned on dropping by TJ’s as my first stop in a long chain of errands for an entire month. I never learn!
Eventually, around the end of June, I finally dashed over for an emergency banana run late one evening, just before the store closed. Because I planned to head directly home after checking out, I nearly skipped down the freezer aisle in excitement until I found the package—perfect timing!
I barely made it home before ripping open the plastic. Those little beauties were “true” peanut butter cups where their centers were pure nut butter, not processed like Reese’s. Coupled with the smooth dark chocolate coating, they tempted me to sneak one after breakfast, before walking our dog, after dinner, and just before crawling under the covers as a bedtime dessert.
The entire package barely lasted me two weeks!
I spotted the dark chocolate peanut butter cups again this past week, but this time, the sneaky employees planted them right next to the registers, precariously stacked and just waiting to “fall” into my basket! I somehow managed to escape without any nose-diving into my bags, but as a compromise, I decided to bake my own slightly healthier treat at home.
Later than night, I pulled a pan of this Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola out of the oven and barely waited five minutes before diving in! With its light cocoa and sweet nutty flavor, every cluster actually tasted like a peanut butter cup. But unlike those candies, this granola is low fat, low calorie, and vegan too!
You only need 4 ingredients to make this skinny granola, most of which you already stash in your pantry! Peanut butter, water, oats, and Cocoa Pebbles. Yes, I’m addicted to Cocoa Pebbles too… I grew up with their cousin, Fruity Pebbles (my grandpa even mixed them into his famous coffee cake!), so munching on a bowl always brings back fun memories.
Because the Cocoa Pebbles are already coated in cocoa powder, we don’t need any additional chocolate. This also helps keep the chocolate and peanut butter flavors separate by preventing them from becoming muddled when you mix them together.
So to make the peanut butter oats, whisk together melted peanut butter and hot water first. They combine better when they’re warm and turn into a smooth mixture, instead of tiny clumps of peanut butter floating in water. Now mix in just the oats (gluten-free if necessary!) until thoroughly coated to make sure the peanut butter mainly flavors them. Finally add in the Cocoa Pebbles and stir until they stick to the oats.
To bake, spread the granola into the pan and pop it in the oven. It needs a total of 40-45 minutes, but remember to stir every 15 minutes! This prevents the cereal closest to the edges from burning and also helps the granola crisp evenly. When the clusters just begin to turn crunchy, pull the pan from the oven. The granola continues to crisp as it cools—if you can keep your hand out of the pan for that long!
Within minutes of it finishing, I had already devoured an entire serving of this Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola, and it disappeared even faster than the TJ’s peanut butter cups! It tasted awesome soaked in milk as a morning bowl of cereal, mixed into yogurt as a parfait, or munched on plain by the handful as a sweet snack.
How long will this granola last in your house?