Mounds and Almond Joy used to be two of my favorite candies….that is until I read the ingredients one day: “CORN SYRUP; SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE ( CHOCOLATE; SUGAR; COCOA; MILK FAT; COCOA BUTTER; SOY LECITHIN; PGPR, EMULSIFIER) ; COCONUT; SUGAR; SALT; NATURAL & ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR; HYDROLYZED MILK PROTEIN; SODIUM METABISULFITE, TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS; SULFUR DIOXIDE, TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS; CARAMEL COLOR; MILK”. ………YIKES!
Since one of my rules is not to eat anything I can’t pronounce, I had to say goodbye to the sodium metabisulfite (what?) and come up with a healthier version. Now I’ll admit, while I have eliminated most refined sugar from my diet, there is one case where I have not…and that’s a good organic dark chocolate bar. I’m learning how to use unsweetened chocolate and sweeten it myself, but until I figure out the perfect balance I will continue to use my favorite dark chocolate, Green & Black’s 85% cacao. Its ingredients are: “Organic Chocolate Liquor, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Fat-Reduced Cocoa Powder, Organic Raw Cane Sugar, Organic Vanilla Extract, Organic Whole Milk Powder *” Acceptable, in my book! (and delicious too!)
Healthier Chocolate Coconut Candies:
1. Start with 1/2 unsweetened, shredded coconut. I use this brand:
2. Add 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil and 1 Tbsp. raw honey. Mix well, and pack tightly into a tablespoon or cookie scoop.
3. Scoop onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for at least a half hour.
4. Melt chocolate using microwave instructions here. Drizzle frozen coconut balls with chocolate.
5. Freeze for another half hour until hardened. Enjoy!!!
Reader Feedback: What are your favorite chocolate candies? Let me know and I will try to recreate a healthier version for you!
While I must say it’s been a pretty easy transition off of refined sugar to natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup (click each to read about the health benefits), the one thing I have not been able to give up is CHOCOLATE. Even though I choose the darkest chocolates with high percentages of cacao, and even though they’re organic, they still contain sugar. So, in an attempt to circumvent that minor detail yet assuage my chocolate addiction, I decided to try starting off with a 100% cacao bar– unsweetened– and sweeten it myself. Have you ever taken a bite of baker’s chocolate before? GROSS! But if I could re-write the famous song from Mary Poppins, “A spoonful of pure maple syrup makes the medicine go down” I would, because this is soooo good! I got this idea from a recipe I found on the Tropical Traditions website (my favorite coconut oil), except instead of using cocoa powder and sugar, I am substituting the unsweetened chocolate and maple syrup, and also adding some chopped sprouted almonds. What in the world are ‘sprouted almonds’ you ask? Well, they are almonds that have been soaked for at least 12 hours, after which time more enzymes are released making them more nutritious. They are also lighter to chew and easier to digest.
1. Chill a baking pan in the freezer for at least a half hour.
2. Follow the instructions for melting down the bars of chocolate in the microwave, here.
3. Once melted, stir in the coconut oil, maple syrup and chopped almonds. The 1/3 cup I’m using here makes for a very rich, dark chocolate. If you like it sweeter, adjust to taste. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan and freeze for at least an hour.
Break up into pieces using the edge of a sharp knife. Enjoy!
This is kind of like making your own chocolate bar. You decide the level of sweetness, and add your favorite ingredients. What would your favorite chocolate candy bar consist of?
2 4-oz. bars of 100% unsweetened dark chocolate.
1 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil
1/3 cup (or more, depending on taste) pure maple syrup
1 handful ingredients of your choice.
I am sure to be sharing recipes that involve dipping things in chocolate, so I’m posting this so that I can link back to it in future chocolate dipping posts for reference. After all, since I plan on using chocolate liberally what better place to start than to show you how to melt the stuff? The good news is it doesn’t involve any fancy equipment like double boilers or fancy terms like “tempering”. All you need is a bowl, a microwave, and of course a spoon
My normal go-to when it comes to chocolate is Green & Blacks, but a new favorite of mine is Equal Exchange dark chocolate, not just because it tastes delicious but because it is fair trade and supports small farmers. Always go for dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao to enjoy the health benefits . I’m able to enjoy up to an 85% bar– anything higher than that is a bit too much, even for me!
Break the bar into small, even sized pieces and place in a microwave safe container that won’t get too hot with repeated microwaving.
Microwave for 30 seconds, remove and stir. Continue microwaving in 15 second increments– you may be tempted to go longer– don’t! Stir after each time. Your chocolate will start to look like this– this is good. Keep going!
You will start to notice as it gets to be almost ready that the bowl gets warm. Eventually you will just be able to stir the remaining “chunks” for a couple of minutes and the warmth of the bowl will melt it the rest of the way. It is very important that you do not heat for too long or the chocolate will seize, and then you might as well throw it away– which we NEVER want to see happen!
Your finished product should be smooth and shiny. Now, go find something like frozen banana pieces or other fruit like blueberries or strawberries, or even nuts and get dipping!!