Halloween Candy Store

Halloween Candy Store
Halloween Candy Store

Thank you for visiting my candy store for Halloween. Today I have several treats for you … and no tricks! I offer you a trio of fairly easy candy recipes. You won’t need a candy thermometer, and you don’t have to laboriously temper chocolate. And, if you are the impatient type (aren’t we all when it comes to treats), the truffles are ready in just a few minutes.

Each recipe that I adapted was already vegan. There is no baking involved, so high altitude was not a problem. Any changes I made were to finesse textures and include ingredients that I prefer. I also chose treats that were a little bit healthier so I wouldn’t get too crazy a sugar buzz. I hope you enjoy these treats, and have a Happy Halloween!

Matcha Nut Truffles adapted from Pistachio and Matcha Truffles

1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
9 medjool dates, pitted
1 TBS chia seeds
1 TBS hemp seeds
2 TBS vegan chocolate chips
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder

Add everything except the matcha to a food processor. Process until well combined, with a somewhat crumbly texture. Add the matcha powder and process again. Pour the mixture out into a bowl. Take a spoonful of the mixture in your palm and squeeze tightly, then roll it into a ball. Place on a dish and repeat with the rest of the mixture. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Makes 10-12 truffles.

Chocolate-Covered Caramel Rolls

1.25 cups medjool dates, pitted
1 cup raw cashews
1 tsp maca powder
pinch sea salt
1 TBS vanilla extract
1.5 cups vegan chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a food processor, combine the dates, cashews, maca, salt, and vanilla. Process until the cashews are broken down to tiny flecks and the mixture starts to form a ball. The mixture will be a bit sticky. If it is not, then add another date or two and process again. Take a spoonful of the mixture and roll it between your palms. Place each roll on the parchment-lined sheet. Put the baking sheet in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. When melted, remove the chocolate from the heat. Place a cooled roll on a fork, quickly dip it into the chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off, then place it on the parchment-lined sheet. Repeat with remaining rolls. When all are dipped, put the cookie sheet in the fridge until the chocolate is firm. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Makes 24-30 rolls.

candy making ingredients
candy making ingredients

Cool Peppermint Patties

organic powdered sugar for baking sheet
1 TBS raw cashew butter
2.5 TBS refined coconut oil, in solid form
1.5 tsp agave syrup
1/8-1/4 tsp peppermint extract, or to taste
2 tsp organic powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar, and set aside. In a bowl, use a spatula to combine the cashew butter, coconut oil, agave, peppermint extract, and 2 tsp powdered sugar. Place the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes for the mixture to get firm. When the mixture is a scoopable consistency, take a small amount and roll it into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then place the sheet back in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Prepare another baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. When melted, remove chocolate from the heat and let it cool slightly. When cooled, take a large dollop of chocolate and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Swirl it into a thick disc with the back of a spoon. Place a peppermint disc on top of the chocolate, then place another dollop of chocolate on top of that. Swirl the chocolate around to coat the peppermint disc. Refrigerate the coated patties until firm. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week. Makes 15 patties.

Until next time, happy nonbaking!

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites and matcha tea

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites and matcha tea

The seasons are starting to change, often a time that ushers in new colds and flus. It’s a good idea now to keep up immune health, and I have a tasty way for you to do just that. These nuggets of sweetness can be beneficial to your immune system, all the while disguising themselves as dessert.

Over the years I have collected many recipes for what are called Energy Bites. The recipe here is a mashup of those, with an accent on herbs to keep you well. It’s raw and vegan so there are no high altitude tips and no veganizing was necessary. You can substitute your favorite sweetener and nut or seed butter, but please do not consider this medical advice. Seek out your healthcare provider if you have serious health issues.

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites

2 TBS astragalus root powder
1 tsp maca powder
2 tsp cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
6 TBS date paste (see my post on how to make date paste, or use Soom Silan Date Syrup)
1 cup tahini or nut butter (I used Soom Premium Tahini)
walnut pieces, for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk the powders together. In a medium bowl, combine the date paste and tahini or nut butter. Stir the powders into the wet ingredients until well incorporated. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes for the powders to better absorb. Roll teaspoon-sized balls in the palms of your hands. Press walnut pieces in the tops of the bites. Store in an airtight container on the counter. Eat 2-3 daily. Makes 10 Immune Boost Bites.

Until next time, happy nonbaking!

This post was a collaboration with Soom Foods, however my opinions are my own.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fudge

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fudge

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fudge

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,

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fudge adapted from Double Chocolate Salted Freezer 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

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.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Sweetheart Peanut Butter Cups

Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Peanut Butter Cups

Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Peanut Butter Cups

Valentine’s Day is coming up so I thought I’d have some fun making chocolates. For simplicity I went with a rolled variety, where the forming tool is your hands, and a version made in silicon molds, where chocolate tempering is not required.

The first recipe, that I like to call Strawberry Covered Chocolates, is a riff on a truffle from Dr. Gregor’s cookbook. I had coconut sugar in my cupboard, so I used that, but know that this healthy treat originally called for date sugar. To enhance the truffles’ Valentine’s Day status, I rolled the candies in strawberry powder. If you can’t find that in your market, see if you can find freeze dried strawberries. You can run them through a coffee grinder and – presto – strawberry powder.

My other chocolate candy choice is an old favorite that I make. I can’t remember how the recipe evolved but I use as few ingredients as possible to get the boldest flavor. You will find that they are true to the peanut butter and chocolate tastes without any unnecessary fillers.

Today I offer you two recipes, in the name of love and chocolate. Show love to yourself and others with these decadent vegan candies.

Strawberry Covered Chocolates based on Almond-Chocolate Truffles from “The How Not To Die Cookbook” by Michael Greger, M.D. and Gene Stone

1/3 cup chopped and pitted soft dates *
1/3 cup raw cashews soaked in hot water for 3 hours and then drained
3 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Strawberry powder, for coating

Combine dates and cashews in a food processor and process to a paste. Add almond butter and process to combine. Add cocoa powder, coconut sugar, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of water. Pulse until well combined.

Pinch a piece of the mixture between your fingers to see whether it holds together. If it’s too dry, add a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture can be shaped into balls. (The amount of water added can depend on the amount of moisture in your dates.) If the mixture is too soft, refrigerate it for 20 minutes or longer to firm up. If it’s still too soft, add a little more cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon at a time. The mixture should be slightly glossy.

Use your hands to shape and roll a small amount of the mixture into a ball and transfer to a plate. Repeat until all of the mixture has been formed into about 24 balls. Put the plate in the fridge for 10 minutes for the balls to dry out a bit.

rolling and dipping chocolates

rolling and dipping chocolates

Place the strawberry powder in a shallow bowl. Roll the chocolates in the powder until they’re coated, patting off the excess powder. Transfer the candies to a plate and refrigerate until firm.

* If your dates are not soft, soak them in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry before using.

 

Sweetheart Peanut Butter Cups

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 TBS coconut palm syrup (you can use agave syrup instead)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 65% cocoa), chopped

In a bowl, mix peanut butter with coconut palm syrup and vanilla until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill.

Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat. With a pastry brush, apply a generous layer of chocolate inside each cup of a silicon mold. The chocolate cups should be sturdy enough to hold the filling, so coat the bottom and sides but don’t fill them to the top. Place the mold in the fridge for 30 minutes so the chocolate hardens.

coating silicon mold with chocolate

coating silicon mold with chocolate

Reheat remaining chocolate until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 TBS peanut butter filling into each chocolate cup. With a clean spoon, quickly spoon remaining melted chocolate over the filling to cover. Refrigerate until chocolate hardens, for 20 minutes. Unmold hardened chocolates.

Happy non-baking!

Valentine’s Day Chocolates

Valentine's Day Chocolate

Valentine Day Chocolate

For Valentine’s Day I wanted to give you a box of chocolates. The recipe here includes ginger and cinnamon for spiciness and rose petals for romance. When you add in the chocolate you have an additional superfood to inspire passion and stamina.

The recipe I found was already vegan, but I switched out some of the flavorings to accent heat and passion. It isn’t a baked treat, but instead it is made with chocolate molds so you can choose your favorite meaningful shapes. I found an adorable love birds mold and also added extra rose petals to a floral mold. With love …

Valentine’s Day Chocolates adapted from The Herbal Academy
6 ounces vegan dark chocolate, broken up
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 TBS crushed dried rose petals
1 TBS chopped candied ginger
Melt chocolate in a double boiler ensuring that no water gets into the pot with the chocolate. Once chocolate has melted, fold in cardamom, cinnamon, rose petals, and candied ginger. Stir well and remove bowl with chocolate. Pour chocolate mixture into molds, adding extra crushed rose petals to mold first, if desired. Smooth out with a spatula. Keep in fridge until hardened. Once chocolate has set, remove from molds.

Until next time, happy un-baking!

Superfood Chocolates

superfood chocolate

superfood chocolate

It seems I have been slaving over cookie cutters far too much lately, so I went easy on myself with this week’s recipe. Making chocolates is not very difficult and can be quite fulfilling. You can grab whatever is in your pantry to make them savory, healthy, and any taste you choose (I added cinnamon). I also discovered a new recipe twist I had to try – it added probiotics to the mixture for a health-giving extra. Now you can have your sweets and supplements at the same time.

This recipe has no tips for high altitude baking, but I can offer a few insights. In the past I had used Cocoa Butter for making body products. It was from a crafts website and I thought it smelled pretty good because it had cocoa undertones. And then I opened a package of Navitas Naturals Organic Cacao Butter. It was heaven. I wanted to eat the nuggets straight from the bag. They are luscious, but be aware that when the melted butter cools it gets almost as hard and messy as candle wax. Another Navitas Naturals product I tried was Maca Powder. It is dubbed an “Incan Superfood” and it has a caramel-like taste. I chose to roll my bonbons in a mixture of Cacao Powder and Maca Powder for extra nutrients and the caramel overtones. Note: I’m not paid to like Navitas’ products, I just do.

Superfood Chocolates adapted from Sea Salt Probiotic Chocolates in Tasty. Naughty. Healthy. Nice.
1/4 cup melted Navitas Naturals Organic Cacao Butter
1/2 cup raw agave syrup
1/3 cup Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup + 2 TBS almond butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
a few grinds of sea salt
2 TBS hot water
1 TBS probiotic powder (I got mine from 16 capsules of Ora Organic vegan probiotic & prebiotic)
1.5 TBS Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder + 1.5 TBS Navitas Naturals Maca Powder, for rolling into
To get 1/4 cup of melted cacao butter, put slightly more than 1/4 cup of unmelted cocoa butter in a double boiler with simmering water beneath. Remove from heat and let cacao butter naturally melt over hot water for 5 minutes. In a food processor, blend agave, 1/3 cup cacao powder, cinnamon, almond butter, vanilla, salt, and hot water. Add probiotic powder and blend again, scraping down sides as necessary. With motor running, slowly add melted cacao butter in a steady stream.
Refrigerate in same bowl, with blade intact, for 1 to 3 hours. If mixture seems too hard, blend it again to loosen it up. Put cacao/maca powder mix in a shallow plate. Roll mixture into bonbons between your palms, then drop into powders. Store in refrigerator. Can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Peppermint Fudge Cookie Bites

peppermint fudge cookie bite

peppermint fudge cookie bite

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.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Chocolate Haystack Bark

chocolate haystack barkLately 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.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Savory Energy Bites

savory energy bitesI am a big fan of Chef Elizabeth Falkner. From my couch, I cheer on her creativity whenever she is in a cooking battle on TV. Coincidentally, I have tried many versions of Energy Balls. So when I saw a video of Chef Falkner demonstrating a recipe for an energy ball, I knew I had to make them, too. The thing that was most appealing is that many energy balls are overly sweet, but her version has a savory side that makes it a tasty snack and not just dessert.

To make it vegan I swapped out honey and used agave syrup instead, which I also think rounded out the savory flavors. Orange Flower Water is hard to come by, and a bit sweet itself, so I used orange juice in its place. I then mixed it up when rolling out the balls. I decided to roll some in sesame to add to the Moroccan theme, and also chose to roll others in cacao powder because, well, chocolate.

Savory Energy Bites adapted from Moroccan-Date Bonbons
1/2 cup + 2 TBS sliced almonds (2 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (2 oz)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (3 oz)
1 pound moist dates, pitted and chopped
4 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 TBS finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 TBS agave syrup
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp fresh orange juice
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 4 minutes, until golden. Let almonds cool completely. In a food processor, grind pistachios to a coarse powder. Transfer pistachio powder to a plate. Add toasted almonds to processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add walnuts, dates, olives, ginger, agave, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, orange juice and salt and process to a paste. Scoop up scant tablespoons of mixture and roll into balls. Roll balls in pistachio powder to coat them completely. Makes about 25 balls.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Ginger Lollipops

ginger lollipopsIt’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.

Until next time, happy un-baking!