A few years ago I attended a workshop on chocolate making. It was interesting to learn how to create chocolate from scratch and the technique for making it snap when breaking it up into pieces. As much fun as the class was, that process is a bit time consuming and you have to be diligent while your creation is on the stove. More recently I have discovered healthier fudge recipes that are less demanding and produce treats that have less impact on blood sugar balance.
Because the recipe I modified was vegan and did not need baking, it required no adjustments for those. Instead, I decided to change up the recipe and create a classic peanut butter and jelly combo. You can use any nut butter and jelly you prefer, but the texture may change. I added extra (yummy smelling) Navitas Organic cacao butter to help thicken up my fudge,
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves
1/2 cup + 1 TBS Navitas Organics cacao butter
1/4 cup Navitas Organics cacao powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp sea salt
Prepare a mini muffin tin with small paper liners. In a medium pan over medium-low heat, combine all ingredients. Stir until ingredients are well mixed and smooth, working to incorporate any lumps. Spoon into the lined muffin tin and place tin in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Let candies sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator.
fudge ingredients with Navitas Organics
Note: When making chocolate, choose a food-grade cocoa butter such as Navitas Organics cacao butter. Some products are used for making toiletries and may not be pure cocoa butter.
When I get together to see friends I always bring a tasty treat. A gluten free pal and I were going to the movies but it was too hot to whip something up using the oven. We both love dark chocolate, so I found a recipe that was no bake and gluten free and loaded with chocolate. If you take this with you when going out I do have a recommendation – have wet naps nearby. Movie theaters hate when you leave sticky chocolate handprints on their seats.
This recipe was already vegan and didn’t require high altitude baking, so it was a snap to prepare. The only change I made was to add more berries and a variety of them. They are delicious superfoods so I figured it was a good idea. As a matter of fact, all of the ingredients below are superfoods. So, indulge away.
Berry Chocolate Bundles adapted from Cherry Chocolate Almond Clusters
8 oz dark chocolate, broken or chopped into small pieces
1 TBS creamy unsalted almond butter 1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup raw unsalted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries and blueberries, chopped
To a heat-proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, add chocolate and almond butter. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes, until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir in oats, almonds and dried berries. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in refrigerator until set, 20-25 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.
What do you get when you combine peppermint fudge and chocolate cookies? These delicious bites. They are a rich fudge spread over a cookie crumb shell to make them a decadent and elegant treat. And there is no baking involved. Decadent and easy – no need to say more.
The recipe I adapted these from was already non-dairy so I didn’t need to make those types of changes. No baking meant it didn’t need high altitude adjustments. The changes I made were to help them stick together for easier eating and presentation. I added coconut oil to the cookie shell for stability, and I added more milk to the fudge for pourability. Also, I made them in paper cups and in a muffin tin. They both worked out, but I find the paper cup is more festive and easier to hold if you are sharing them with others. If you’re not sharing, then you can just mash them up and eat them. I don’t judge.
Peppermint Fudge Cookie Bites based on Chocolate Mint Fudge Tartlets
1 TBS + ½ cup vegan chocolate chips, divided
4.5 ounces gluten-free crunchy chocolate cookies, processed into fine crumbs
1 TBS coconut oil, melted
¼ cup + ½ tsp almond milk
¼ tsp peppermint extract
Melt 1 TBS chocolate chips over a double boiler. Put cookies crumbs in a bowl with melted coconut oil, then add the melted chocolate. Stir until thoroughly combined and mixture resembles wet sand. Divide cookie crumb mixture between 12 lined mini muffin cups. Drop a spoonful of crumb mixture into each cup and press into bottoms and lightly up the sides.
Melt remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Turn heat off but leave the bowl of melted chocolate over the hot water. Whisk milk and peppermint extract into the bowl. Pour chocolate-mint filling into cookie crusts. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes. May be stored in a covered container in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Lately I’ve been seeing recipes for chocolate bark everywhere. It’s no surprise because it’s tasty and makes a great gift. But I have also come to realize that bark should use tempered chocolate to have the right snap and be done properly. Not wanting to spend the time required to temper, I looked to haystacks which are treats with melted chocolate gluing them together. In today’s recipe I morphed those two delights to come up with my own version.
Because no baking was involved, these require no altitude changes. And as long as you use dark chocolate with minimum additives, then they are already vegan. The alterations that I made were in the basic recipe. Feel free to do the same by picking and choosing what you coat the chocolate with, such as seeds, dried fruit, dried coconut pieces, and the like. I did find that the small amount of salt on the pretzels rounded out the flavor nicely.
Chocolate Haystack Bark
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole unsalted almonds, roasted
1/2 cup lightly salted gluten-free pretzels, broken into large pieces
1/2 cup brown rice cereal
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, heat chopped chocolate, stirring occasionally, until it is just melted. Put almonds, pretzels and cereal into a large bowl. Pour melted chocolate over mixture and stir to combine. Let cool a minute and then pour onto baking sheet. Place sheet in fridge for 30 minutes until bark hardens. Invert bark onto a work surface and break into pieces.
Halloween and Frankenstein go hand in hand for a good scare, so I found a scary Halloween Frankenstein treat. I know Halloween is tomorrow, but this recipe is fun and easy so there is still time. It’s based on a classic childhood delight making it even more of a holiday inspiration.
In a web search I discovered the design of a Frankenstein looking rice krispie treat. Then I grabbed the basic recipe from a bag of Dandies vegan marshmallows. So, without further ado, I bring you …
Halloween Rice Krispie Monster adapted from Fork & Beans
For the treats:
2 TBS vegan margarine
2 TBS coconut oil
10 oz. bag vegan marshmallows
5 cups brown rice cereal
5 drops green food coloring
For the decorations:
1/2 cup vegan chocolate, melted together with 1 TBS coconut oil
Line an 8×8” pan with wax paper. In a saucepan, melt margarine and coconut oil on medium/low heat. Add marshmallows and melt, stirring often. Once melted, remove from heat and add food coloring until well combined. Quickly stir in cereal. Place in pan and pat down gently. Cool down for 10 minutes. Remove from pan using excess wax paper as handles. Gently remove wax paper. Cut into 6 rectangles. Place a lollipop stick into each treat.
Coat tops of treats with melted chocolate and add chocolate sprinkles. Make eyes out of cut marshmallows with blobs of melted chocolate. Cut marshmallows for bolts. Secure eyes and bolts by gently pressing them into the head. Draw mouths with melted chocolate. Allow to set. Makes 6, unless you eat the scraps like I did and then it makes 5.
It’s almost Halloween and that means … candy! I know it’s not baking but I had never successfully made candy before and I like a challenge. I found a recipe using simple, natural ingredients (read – no corn syrup) so I gave it a whirl.
A few tips about candy making: 1) Set aside some time to make this and be patient. The process of heating the sugar mixture seems slow but it will happen. 2) Do not leave the pot unattended. I attempted candy making once years ago, but each time I did I got distracted and ruined it. My recent attempt at Halloween candy met with the phone ringing and then the door ringing seconds later. I was mere degrees from the correct temperature so I wisely ignored both. Shortly thereafter the honey smell became very strong and then instantly I hit the right temp. A few seconds later and it would have burned. 3) Wash the pot and utensils immediately after pouring the mixture into the molds. I washed the pot and thermometer quickly after pouring but I forgot the spoon for a few minutes. Getting the now-hard candy off of the spoon was more difficult than you would imagine. 4) This recipe makes 20 round lollipops, but molds vary. I had a tray with parchment paper at the ready for pouring out the overage. Do not use the extra to overfill the molds. Overly full molds are a pain to unmold.
In case you’re still wondering about cooking candy and not baking, I can let you know that my chocoholic taster was very enthused with the finished product in spite of the lack of chocolate.
Ginger Lollipops adapted from achs.edu
vegetable oil, to grease molds
candied ginger, chopped very fine
2 cups organic sugar
2/3 cups agave nectar
3/4 cup water
10 drops organic ginger (Zingiber officinale) essential oil
Use oil to grease lollipop molds. Drop a few pieces of candied ginger into each mold. Insert lollipop sticks and set aside. In a heavy-duty saucepan, combine sugar, agave and water. Insert candy thermometer, making sure not to touch bottom of pan. Cook at medium heat, stirring until ingredients are dissolved. Check pan occasionally to make sure mixture is not bubbling over.
Once thermometer reaches 300F, remove from stove. Once bubbling subsides, add ginger essential oil. Stir well. Pour mixture carefully into molds, making sure sticks remain secure. Let cool before removing from molds. (If lollipops are difficult to remove, briefly run hot water over back of mold tray.) Place in plastic bags or plastic wrap.
My husband said, “bring on the chocolate,” so I did. I decided to make chocolates, which sounds scarier than it actually is. If you have the right equipment, making chocolate candies is as easy as melt-and-pour. The hard part is picking a flavor combination.
This is a no-bake vegan recipe, great for a hot summer’s day. It’s simple to do if you have the proper equipment: a silicon mold so you need not fuss with chocolate tempering, a silicon brush for the cleanest way to coat a mold, and a double boiler (or a small pot and a metal bowl that is large enough so its bottom doesn’t touch the water when it sits on top of the pot).
For this decadent and elegant dessert I chose chocolate cups filled with raspberry and a hint of chipotle. Raspberry is fantastic paired with the notes of dark chocolate, and adding the chili gives the taste buds a slight zing.
Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups inspired by Lazy Cat Kitchen
5 oz. dark chocolate
1 oz. seedless raspberry jam
chipotle powder, to taste
Boil a pot of water on the stove, then lower the heat to medium. Place the chocolate in the top of the double boiler and put it over the water. When the chocolate is melted, pull it off the heat making sure you get no water in the chocolate. Dip a silicon brush in the melted chocolate and fill in the mold cavities halfway, including up the sides. Put mold in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
Remove mold from the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam into each cavity. Heat a pot of water to boiling, again. Re-melt the chocolate in the top of the double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in chipotle powder. Let the chocolate cool but not completely – you want it to be pourable. Pour the chocolate over the raspberry jam to fill each mold. Do not over- or under-fill the molds or it will be difficult to remove the candies. Put the mold in the freezer for 20 minutes more. Remove from freezer and carefully pop candy out of molds. Makes 6 chocolates.