Low-Carb Candy! Chocolate & PB Cups

It’s hard to deal with a chocolate jones when you eat low-carb. But through one of the bulletin boards I read, I discovered something called “coconut bark”, which sounded just about right.

You basically take coconut oil and flavor it, then put it in the freezer. Coconut oil is a quirky little oil — it’s liquid at 77° Farenheit, and solid at 76° or below. It’s also almost entirely saturated fat, so it’s quite possibly the healthiest fat to use. Sometimes I don’t get enough fat in my day, and this stuff can help bump my numbers up not only with fat, but with a really good fat. I got the Louana brand coconut oil from Wal*Mart to experiment with.

Chunks of delicious chocolate!

Chunks of delicious chocolate!

First up is the plain “chocolate bark”. There are only four ingredients:

4 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 packets Splenda (or 2 Tbsp no-calorie sweetner)

Nuke the oil for 10 seconds or so, until it’s fluid, then whisk or stir the rest of the ingredients in. It’ll take a while for everything to combine. Pour it onto a container (a plate, a pie pan) lined with waxed paper. Put it in the freezer. Within 10 minutes, you should be able to pull it cleanly off the paper and snap it apart into chunks. They have a good chocolatey flavor, and the oil makes them melt in your mouth. The only issue is, they have to stay in the fridge or freezer. I was always a chocolate-in-the-freezer person anyway, so this works for me.

If you make 12 pieces, each piece has approximately:

45 calories
5g fat
(4g saturated fat)
0.5g carb
0 protein

Low-carb peanut butter cups!

Low-carb peanut butter cups!

So then I figured, why can’t I make low-carb peanut butter cups? And so I did. I got a plastic peanut butter cup mold from my local craft store, whipped up a batch of the chocolatey oil above, and then made some peanut butter filling. That recipe:

2 Tbsp peanut butter (I use Simply Jif)
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 packet Splenda (or 2 tsp no-calorie sweetener)

Microwave for 10-15 seconds until the butters are soft, then mix together thoroughly. Put the goo into a plastic sandwich bag, crammed down into one of the corners. Cut the corner off, and you have yourself a piping bag.

Fill the cup molds 1/3 of the way up with the chocolate mixture. Put in the freezer for 5 minutes. Then pipe a pile of the peanut butter mixture into the centers, making sure to leave a little space around the edges of the peanut butter so it can be totally surrounded with chocolate. Freeze for 5 minutes. Then top off the whole shebang with more chocolate mixture, so the peanut butter is totally covered. Freeze again, and you’re done!

I had extra chocolate mix and peanut butter mix, so I poured the chocolate onto a plate covered with waxed paper, then piped the peanut butter all over it. I froze it, and it made another hard, snap-able bark. And honestly, the bark was MUCH easier to make (1 step vs. 3) than the cups. But the cups are so classic.

This batch made 11 cups and another 5 good-sized chunks of bark. At 16 servings, the per-serving nutrition facts are:

50 calories
5g fat
(3.5 g saturated fat)
0.75g carb
(.25g dietary fiber)
.75g protein

We broke up the bark and unmolded the cups (they popped right out) and put them in a container in the freezer. They won’t last the week, that’s for sure. And they’re a great way to satisfy a craving for chocolate.

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  1. That is one of the most artery-clogging thing I’ve ever seen. Sounds delicious!

    When I was a teenager, before the saturated fat scare, we used coconut oil in the poppers at the movie theatre* I worked at. The machine contained a heated element that dove into the vat to keep the oil in a liquid state.

    When the theatre switched to canola oil from coconut, there was a distinct change in the smell of the theatre. Head office eventually circulating a memo saying that the next person to make a crack about frying fish was going to be fired on the spot.

    *not a typo: “theater” to you folks South of the border.

    missy Reply:

    I think you meant to write “artery-clearing”, right? Right?! Right.

    That orange-dyed coconut oil was the BEST for popcorn. Crappy seed oils can’t hold a candle to it.

    And hey, let’s put spelling aside and call the place “the cinema”.

  2. Cinema? How diplomatic!

    Popcorn has never been the same since. The dye was actually added into the popper with the other flavouring (some salt concoction). It looked white until it hit the oil. I tasted it from the container once โ€” after downing a handful of canned jalapeรฑo peppers from the nacho station.


    missy Reply:

    The theater I used to work in got some handy-dandy pre-measured packets for the popcorn machine — one side with the corn kernels, the other with the pre-dyed coconut oil. I applaud the modern advancement. (I tasted the oil too. DELISH!)

  3. so is this considered “milk” chocolate or “dark” chocolate, or somewhere in between? sounds yummy (altho I’ll try it with real sugar ‘cuz I don’t do “fake” ingredients)!

    missy Reply:

    It falls somewhere in between milk and dark, but I think it’s a little closer to milk. Really it’s more like a semisweet. The most recent batch I made, I used 3 Tbsp coconut oil and 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, and that gave it a little more milk-like flavor.

    I usually try to put the measurements for any sweetener, sugar included. For me, even this much sugar would put me into a carb frenzy. A friend gave me some packets of stevia, which is made from leaves. I’m going to try using it next time — it’d be nice to find a no-carb sweetner that isn’t all chemical-rific.

  4. What I don’t like about Splenda I also don’t like about stevia – there’s an “aftertaste” that actually happens when it first hits your tongue! ick! I like how Blue Agave syrup sweetens, but it’s probably even higher carb than just plain raw sugar.

    I worked in a cinema while in college, and we also had the giant vats of orange solid coconut oil that had to be melted with the giant heating blade. Good times! (Great corn, too!)

    Since I prefer a darker chocolate, I guess I’ll try this recipe with more cocoa and less oil… dunno, I’ll play with it. I’m sure it’ll be great. I’ll start with your original recipe. Thanks for posting it!

  5. Ummmmmm….. saturated fats (and coconut oil in particular) are NOT healthy — they’re the “bad” kinds of fats. Here’s some information from wikipedia, but really you can find info about this all over the web.


    missy Reply:

    While Wikipedia is usually an excellent source of information, I think I’ll stick with the myriad studies and current doctors and literature that are starting to disprove the lipid hypothesis. Hopefully we’re at a turning point these days to point people away from the low-fat fad diet and toward the healthy, fat-rich diet we were built to eat.

  6. Please tell me you did not mean to say that saturated fat is the most healthy kind? Best: mono-unsaturated. 2nd: poly-unsaturated. The only think worse than sat fats are trans fats!

    I’m really glad that I took charge of my own diet. I’ve lost 40 lbs this year, and converted much more to muscle.

    Most of my secret: 2 homemade shakes per day made from a frozen banana, 12 oz milk, 1 cup quick-oats ground into flour, 1 serving PB and 1 scoop of protein powder.

    When I’m not backpacking, I usually just eat two of these per day and not much else. Tastes like having two amazingly bad-for-you, giant shakes per day. No cravings, and it (the protein powder) comes in CHOCOLATE! The “not much else” would usually be steamed brown rice with Normandy mix veggies put in top of the steamer in the last 10-15 minutes, or sometimes nothing at all. And Tuna, mmmmm, Tuna.I haven’t had white bread or rice in a long time, and haven’t had fast food this year, unless you count Subway.

    Notice the word “backpacking” in that last paragraph. Exercise without diet will make your heart healthy and you’ll be a fat athlete. Been there for years. Decided that I was tired of carrying so much up the mountains. Diet without exercise will make you a sick skinny person. It takes both to make you a whole person. And there is no one here who can’t give up 1/2 hour per day to walk a mile. Or do y’all not watch ANY television? You just have to want to be healthy more than you want to take it easy. I also don’t believe this man/woman difference thing very much at all. I’m an overeater/binge eater. I’m addicted to anything that is bad for me. I just decided to take charge and quit believing that I could not do it!

    Why is this so important to me? I had two strokes caused by sludge in my left carotid artery at 36. I’ll be 50 in March, and my total cholesterol is 140, with a 1:3 HDL:LDL ratio. My blood pressure is 120/70, my resting heart rate is ~60 and my A1C is 4. I wasn’t this healthy at 20, and I have more energy than I know what to do with.

    Go ahead with all the diets you want. Without exercise (read lifestyle) change, they won’t mean a thing.

    And if you want to diet only, remember this: the simple formula is to take in less than you put out. “Slow Metabolism” myths don’t cut it. Want to eat more? Exercise more.

    I’m not sure if this comment will be/stay posted, but it is as true as life. I want to go out as an old man, falling off a mountainside, and turned into bear food. 35-40 years from now will do just fine!


    missy Reply:

    Hello, Frank! Yes, I definitely meant to say that saturated fat is healthy — a belief I hold because of the research I’ve done. Although I hope you’d consider me flexible; if studies were to appear to actually prove that saturated fat contributes to coronary artery disease, and not just show casual correlation, I’d gladly consider them. But it’s hard to reconcile the danger of saturated fat (and dietary cholesterol as well) with the fact that our skin, our brains, our very cells are mostly composed of those substances.

    I’m glad you’ve found an exercise program and way of eating that works for you. Everyone’s different, and no two of us will find success the same way. The way that you eat would leave me crippled with gut pain and arthritis from the lack of healthy fats and excessive amounts of sugar/starch. But if it works for you, I think that’s great.

    I’ve also lost weight — 30 pounds this last year in a slow and methodical manner. My total cholesterol is 156, my blood pressure 95/60. I don’t know my A1C because I don’t have blood sugar issues; I recently had a non-fasting reading taken (2 hours post-prandial), and it was 90. My heart, kidneys, and liver are all in great shape, and my endurance levels at exercise are much better. I, like you, look forward to a long, healthy life.

  7. P.S. Are these Doctors that are disproving the lipid hypothesis, with millions of patients in the studies, living right next door to the climate-change deniers and birthers? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sorry, couldn’t resist,

  8. I go to a gerontologist. The A1C goes for everyone in his practice. a 4 is on the very low side. a 7 means “hope you like pills!”

    He decided to see me 4 years before his normal 40+ cutoff. I’m very grateful for that. When I got stroked up, I weighed 280, worked 55 hours per week, sat on the couch the rest of the time.

    I’m almost down to 210. It will be exciting to see that first number change!

    Let me explain my initial reaction: Most of the Atkinsites (made-up word) that I know seem to think that steak covered in butter 5 times per day is just fine, so long as you don’t have any carbs with it. They wonder why they lose weight really fast for a few weeks, then plateu. Then come the cravings, the weight comes back, and they are mystified as to what happened. The fact that Dr. Atkins was seriously obese and had heart disease when he died doesn’t seem to phase them. I made the mistaken assumption that you were on of that type. I also notice that you are a fan of a lot of TV shows, which led me to other assumptions, namely the lack of exercise one. Glad I’m wrong

    I am also married to un un-repentant binge eater/food addict. 260 lbs, 47 years old, 2 kinds of congestive heart failure, collapsed disks and the list goes on. She says “I was born weighing 13 pounds. I was made to be this way!” We’ve been married 20 years and my heart is breaking. I don’t want to grow old alone, and she doesn’t want to make difficult changes. The two don’t fit together.

    Hey! My dad turned things around after he had a quad-bypass at my current age. Maybe she will as well. Who knows?

    missy Reply:

    Oh, I’d only eat steak covered with butter once a day. Five times seems a bit excessive. And it’s best with a salad on the side, and myabe some asparagus or Brussels sprouts. But really, anyone who thinks the Atkins diet is all about steak and butter (and bacon, don’t forget the bacon) hasn’t read the book or doesn’t understand it.

    As for poor Dr. Atkins, well, I wasn’t there. But there are arguments on both sides — heart attack vs. infection-related cardiomyopathy; obesity vs. coma-related fluid retention. All I know is that from pictures taken of him shortly before he slipped on the ice and whacked his head on the pavement, he looked pretty fit for age 72.

    I don’t think of myself as an Atkinsite (I’ve also heart “Atkineers”) — these days I look more toward the Drs. Eades of “Protein Power” fame.

    Changing your life is a big, scary thing. I’m glad we’ve both been able to make positive changes, and I hope your wife is able to finally reach a point where she can also turn her life around.

    anon Reply:

    Dr. Atkins health issues had nothing to do with his diet. The media strikes again.

  9. Another P.S. Thank Scott for giving you your glasses back. You did NOT look right without them! And who really cares what a bunch of Dilberts think anyway?

    We share a belief in high-protein, I notice. I also like the Sugar Busters stuff. They have two very nice books, one for education, one for the store.

    If you noticed the oatmeal/flour, brown rice, brown bread and steamed veggies thing, you’ll also see I’m heavily into fiber. That probably has as much as anything to do with cutting down my over eating. Full of fiber = much less cravings.

    Oh, and I get plenty of fat. From PB, milk and olive oil mostly, plus the tuna that I’m addicted to.

    It really does come down to some sort of balance, doesn’t it?


    missy Reply:

    I’m also glad the glasses came back — that was by my request. I just think I look better as a poindexter.

    Fiber is fantastic for some people. Me, I have Crohn’s Disease, which is an autoimmune problem centered around the intestines. Too much fiber would make things highly unpleasant for me, so I have to stay away from a lot of the rougher roughage. I can also totally get behind PB and olive oil as your fats. Moderation and balance are fabulous things when you can find them, and I’m delighted that we have common grounds to agree on!

  10. Thank you both for this repartee re: “good” fats etc. I had moved myself over a year ago to a mono-unsaturated heavy diet (well, not “heavy” but focused) and I’ve been a grazer for many years and when I quit making my protein+fiber shakes my weight returned. Right now I’m struggling with “winter” weight because I just don’t have the motivation to leave my apartment in 40 or 50 degrees in LOS ANGELES to swim with my friends at the Y. But I do understand that my weight and body image are entirely controllable by ME, with the diet+exercise+sleep=health equation at the forefront of my mind. If I buy my shakes ingredients I’ll start my mornings healthier; when the weather returns to “normal” for me, I’ll get out in it more; in the meantime, I think I’ll just hibernate! ๐Ÿ˜€

    p.s. thanks for helping Scott get his website back to “normal” and I agree that your glasses suit you!

  11. I am very glad that there are people willing to discuss instead of argue. Thanks a lot for that.

    Poindexter? Nah, you need a new term. How about the “sassy librarian” look. Some people substitute the word sexy for sassy, but I think a high-spirited woman is, well, you know.


    I am just a huge fan of women in general. I think God saved his best creation for last. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. P.S. Really sorry about the Crohns. Why have so many of us became allergic to everything in the last 30 years? I think that it comes from not eating enough worms and dirt as a child. I call it the “double dare immunotherapy for children” plan.

    Whataya think?

    missy Reply:

    I like “sassy”. I’m also a fan of having “moxie”.

    As for the Crohn’s, it’s still anybody’s guess. But I’m mostly in remission, which is the best I can hope for. I’m intrigued by some recent reading that blames leaky gut for letting certain food elements through the intestinal wall, which then trains your body to attack those elements (and the unfortunate naturally-occurring parts of your gut lining that bear a striking resemblance to those elements).

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  15. I had to chuckle at the fairly snarky comparison of lc advocates to birthers, et. al. Frankly, the more strident, knee-jerk, cult-like arguments came from the low fat guys, imo.

    Anyway, this is my contribution. I have a medical background, happily retired now. For many years, I fought the good fight trying to reverse the slowly advancing symptoms of metabolic syndrome X. I inherited this combo of dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes and obesity from my mom. My total cholesterol was above 250 when I was still in my 30’s.. and thin. Every primary MD I saw over the years gasped and spat out warnings, lectures, prescriptions and low fat diets the minute they got a gander at my lab work. About ten years ago for some reason, probably gluttony, I decided to try Atkins. I felt guilty about it because I certainly knew the drill, but I was overweight and unhappy and nothing else had worked… ergo.. well, ergo. I had visited low carb dieting before and kinda liked it. This time, I actually read the principles re: metabolism of cholesterol. It made sense to me. I lost weight. I visited my MD for a checkup and I will NEVER forget this moment as long as I live. I was waiting in the exam room, actually standing in the doorway of it chatting with the nurse. The MD was walking down the hall towards us, reading some papers in her hand. She looked up, waved the papers in the air, and shouted, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but whatever it is, keep it up! YOUR LABS ARE FANTASTIC!!” I was taken aback, but thrilled. I didn’t have the nerve to admit to her that I was on Atkins. This MD had even hospitalized me for two days a few years previously for diabetes control.

    I strayed from Atkins and re-started a few months ago. I have had the exact, same result as before. All of my lab values have remarkably improved. I take fewer and fewer meds, and I’m losing weight. My MD thinks I’m “traditionally” dieting.

    So, someone explain to me why my metabolic syndrome X worsens on a low fat diet and improves on a low carb, high fat diet? Apparently, its a bit more complicated than simply eliminating fat, sugar, and cholesterol from your food.

    Love your low carb stuff, Missy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Erica Reply:

    PLEASE – TELL your physician what you are doing! They need to get educated SOMEHOW. The more they see this approach WORKING for patients, the more they will see it DOES work.

    And congratulations!!!

    Erica =)

    missy Reply:

    Oh, my doctors know how I eat. The guy I see the most (my gastroenterologist, for my Crohn’s disease) has a very “meh” attitude toward diet in general. I’m sure he’d probably rather see me eating the toxic standard American diet, but overall he doesn’t seem to think that diet has any place in Crohn’s treatment. Which is just one of his many failings. Also, when I dropped the cross-country-move weight I’d put back on, he told me he didn’t like that — that he likes his patients to have “some meat on their bones.” Seriously, I still have plenty of meat.

  16. You are insanely talented! I just made this, and it’s soooo good! Much better than ANY low carb candy recipe I’ve ever tried! The coconut oil is the key!! Thanks so much! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. How on earth did you get 12 pieces from that Bark recipe? Am I doing something wrong? I got a 6″ x 3″ piece but to get it that big I had to make it super thin and it couldn’t be snapped :/

    missy Reply:

    I honestly don’t recall, it was so many years ago that I made this post. I probably would have poured the stuff into a wax paper-lined 9-inch pie pan? Hmmm.

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