Looking for a delish dessert that’s rich, chocolatey, and gluten-free? This is it! A dense and luscious mousse with deep chocolate flavor (that also happens to be vegan) fills a small flourless, crispy, peanut butter cookie crust.
The crusts are baked in muffin pans. The center is patted down with a spoon right when they emerge from the oven, creating a vessel to hold the chocolate mousse. The crust is crumbly, with just the right amount of sweetness.
The decadence of this dish belies that it’s gluten-free. The combination of a crunchy crust and thick, unctuous mousse makes for a petite yet satisfying dessert. I recommend serving it on a dessert plate with a fork and knife (although I could eat it as the perfect two-bite treat). It’s fancy and fun!
I created this dessert as part of an interview for a Corporate Wellness Director position of a San Francisco-based well-known food organization. I was offered the job before the interviewers put their forks down. I think this will impress your friends and family too!
The Peanut Butter Cookie Cup
The crusts that hold the chocolate mousse are made with a flourless peanut butter cookie dough. The dough is made with peanut butter, sugar, eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and salt. I use this recipe without the chocolate chips, which would otherwise melt and become sticky.
Instead of portioning the cookies and baking them on a cookie sheet, bake them in a muffin pan. As soon as they come out of the oven, a quick pat in the center with a spoon will deflate and turn them into perfect vessels for the chocolate mousse.
For the right texture, use natural peanut butter. (Check out this guide to natural peanut butter.) Peanut butter with palm oil spreads when baked, so the cups might come out looking uneven.
The Chocolate Mousse
The chocolate mousse has avocados, cocoa powder, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt. That’s it! Blend the ingredients in a blender, then pipe or spoon the mousse into the peanut butter cookie cups. A short rest in the fridge solidifies the coconut oil just enough to turn it from a soft pudding to a thick, spoonable mousse.
What Does It Taste Like?
Not many things go better together than chocolate and peanut butter. This dessert is that classic winning combo incarnate!
I fully acknowledge that avocados are not a standard dessert ingredient. You may be concerned about this dessert tasting like avocadoes. Fear not! Even the most distinguished palates couldn’t pick out its flavor.
Tips and Tricks
Follow these guidelines for perfectly creamy chocolate mousse and crumbly cookie cups:
- Ripe avocados are imperative here. The mousse won’t be silky if they are underripe. A ripe avocado is just slightly yielding when pinched. The flesh shouldn’t separate from the skin. You can tell this because the avocado will feel hollow.
- Cut off any brown spots inside the avocado. They are bitter.
- The consistency of the chocolate mousse should be very thick, but silky. Think of a chocolate mousse made with whipped cream and melted chocolate—when you turn the bowl upside down it won’t slide off. If it doesn’t look right, it’s easy to adjust. Because you’re not cooking the mousse, it’s much easier to fix. Too thin? Add an extra tablespoon each of coconut oil and cocoa powder. Too thick? Add water to thin it out.
- Unrefined coconut oil is the key to the mousse setting up (in other words, it will become firmer, but will also stay creamy) in the fridge. If you use refined coconut oil or any other liquid form of oil, it will not set up.
- You can serve this dessert before the mousse is fully chilled and set. The mousse will be jiggly like pudding. For a thicker texture the mousse needs to chill for at least one hour.
- Shape the cookie crusts into the muffin pan. Press the dough about halfway up the sides of the molds into the shape of a cup. Pat the centers down as soon as they come out of the oven.
- I prefer to use nonstick muffin pan, but if you don’t one, line the muffin pan with cupcake liners. Peel them off once the baked crusts cool.
Swaps that Work!
Don’t have all the ingredients on hand? No problem. Try one of these simple swaps.
- Use honey instead of maple syrup.
- Use corn syrup instead of maple syrup for a more affordable sweetener, although it will be sweeter.
- For chocolate lovers who can’t get enough cocoa flavor, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of chocolate chips to the mousse before blending it. You could also add chocolate chips to the cookie dough—I suggest using cupcake liners in the muffin pan so that the chocolate chips don’t stick to the pan.
Delicious Variations to Try
While I love this dessert as is, variety never hurts anyone!
- Fill the cups with a different mousse, such as a strawberry white chocolate or a ricotta-mascarpone.
- Use store-bought mini pie crusts if you don’t want a peanut butter-flavored crust or if you don’t want to make them from scratch.
- Top them with fresh fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries, or sliced peaches, plums, or nectarines.
- Smear a thin layer of your favorite berry jam or orange marmalade in the bottom of the cookie crust before filling it with the mousse.
Fancy and Fun Serving Suggestions
I recommend serving this dessert on a plate with a knife and fork. You can decorate them with whipped cream, edible flowers, candied orange peels, or crystallized ginger on top, but they also are pretty on their own.
Easy to Plan Ahead
You can make the cookie crusts up to three days ahead. Store them at room temperature in a tightly sealed container. The crusts are crumbly, so be gentle with them and store them in a hard lidded container, not a zip top bag.
You can make the chocolate mousse up to three days ahead. Store it in the fridge in a tightly sealed container and let it soften on the counter before you fill the cookie crusts.
Assembled, these treats can be stored in the fridge for three to four days. The mousse is thick enough that it shouldn’t soften the crust too much.
Chocolate + Peanut = Love
Chocolate Mousse Peanut Butter Cookie Cups
For the cookie crusts
2 cups (480g) peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 cup (201g) sugar
1 cup (213g) brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the chocolate mousse
4 ripe medium avocados, pitted and scooped
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 4 tablespoons water, as needed
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Make the cookie dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda. Use a fork to stir until the mixture is uniform in texture. There should be no sugar visible, and the eggs should be fully incorporated.
Make the cookie crusts:
Place 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of cookie dough into each cup of a 12-cup muffin pan. (If you have leftover dough, you can bake it into cookies! You’ll probably have enough leftover dough for about six cookies.)
Shape the cookie crusts into the muffin pan. Press the dough about halfway up the sides of the molds into the shape of a cup. Bake for 14 minutes, until crackly on top and golden brown in color.
Flatten the center and cool:
As soon as you take the muffin pan out of the oven, use a spoon to flatten the center of each crust. The crusts should look like small shallow bowls.
Let the crusts cool completely before removing them from the muffin pan onto a cooling rack. They will be a little crumbly and that’s okay!
Make the mousse:
In a blender, add the avocado, maple syrup, coconut oil, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend on high speed until completely smooth. In a high-speed blender it will take about 20 seconds and about 1 minute in a standard blender.
If the mixture is too thick, you may need to add some water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the blade can hold onto the mixture. You should not need more than 3 to 4 tablespoons of water. You’ll know it’s too thick if the mousse can’t catch onto the blade and blend.
Make sure the cookie crusts are completely cooled. Spoon or pipe the chocolate mousse into the cookie crusts, filling each to the top edge of the crust. You’ll need about 1/4 cup of chocolate mousse for each.
To spoon the mousse into the cookie crust: Use a rubber spatula to transfer the mousse into a medium bowl then use a small spoon to fill the crusts with the mousse.
To pipe the mousse into the cookie crust: Use a rubber spatula to transfer the mousse into a large pastry bag fitted with a piping tip of your choice or skip the piping tip and just cut the tip of the pastry off so you have a small hole for the mousse to push through.
Chill and serve:
Refrigerate them for 1 hour before serving. It’s okay to keep them uncovered. Serve them cold. Letting them sit out for too long will soften the mousse too much.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 36g||46%|
|Saturated Fat 12g||60%|
|Total Carbohydrate 53g||19%|
|Dietary Fiber 8g||29%|
|Total Sugars 37g|
|Vitamin C 8mg||42%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|