Yields: varies Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes
Making your own fancy candies has never been easier, or healthier! Only two simple ingredients make the base, and add your own toppings for a homemade festive treat that is free of artificial dyes, gluten, dairy and chemical stabilizers.
1 cup semi-sweet (or darker) chocolate chips (can be free of gluten and dairy)
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1. Place chocolate chips and coconut oil in a saucepan and melt on low heat. (I used my favorite Le Creuset saucepan with a ceramic interior. It works beautifully!)
2. Place a pure silicone based mold on a baking tray (or other flat surface) to support the mold in the freezer.
3. When the chocolate is melted (careful not to burn), remove from heat. Using a spoon, scoop the chocolate into the molds, about halfway filled.
4. While the chocolate won’t harden immediately, you do want to work with a bit of momentum here. Using whatever toppings or add-ins you’d like (dried fruit, shredded coconut, peanut butter, sprinkles, etc.), gently place in the chocolate filled molds.
5. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Remove from freezer, pop out of molds and store in air-tight container. Because these have no preservatives or stabilizers, they melt easily. I keep them in the freezer just to keep them in-tact.
Now, some of you may be thinking, this isn’t really anything new, as little chocolate melting discs have been available in stores for ages. Well, true. My challenge is much of that chocolate is made with extra junk in it. There are chemical stabilizers, preservatives, and often unknown ingredients labeled “flavors” that could contain traces of other allergens.
I simply used our favorite chocolate chips, which are gluten free, vegan and free of GMOs (genetically modified ingredients). So, the bonus for me with these little gems is that I can make them at home, with what I feel is a healthier base and add my own toppings. Additionally, my kids get to enjoy a little festive treat and I don't feel they are being loaded up with junk.
I am that mom who internally (and sometimes externally) makes a squawk about the holidays and the massive amounts of sugar and artificial colors. I just don’t see it as necessary when we have so many alternatives nowadays. Now, don’t get me wrong, balance is key, and nothing is perfectly free from impurities. However, I do feel we know better now. There is plenty of science backed information on the hazards to our health (especially that of children) from artificial colors. Additionally, allergies are on the rise, so the more we know what is in our food, the more we are empowered to make better choices for ourselves and our family.
OK, off my soapbox now.
My kids are drawn right away to the sprinkle candies. Must be the rainbow of colors! I use India Tree naturally colored (with plants) sprinkles. It’s amazing how far the industry has come in manufacturing such vibrant natural colors. I did swirl in some peanut butter. When left on the top, it does melt quickly. So, if you are choosing to use a nut butter, simply swirl it into the chocolate well, so it mixes and takes on the hardening properties of the chocolate.
Additionally, I use Freshware silicone molds. They claim to be pure silicone and do not use other fillers as other brands do. This is important to me because while silicone (at this time) is considered food safe when heated at high temperatures, there is no guarantee with the other chemical plasticizers that could be present in other molds.
And as for the chocolate, as I mentioned above, I believe in balance - and chocolate. Semi-sweet seems to be around 60% cocoa, give or take, and depending on the brand. Research shows that chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids is where the major benefits start coming in, such as better mood and lowered risk for heart disease. However, I'll still take the semi-sweet at 60% for these little candies! Of course, you could always go darker if you wish.
All in all, these were fun to make, as well as incredibly easy. As I mentioned in the directions, I simply store in the freezer. They could probably be left on the counter in cold weather months, but I don’t really mind keeping them in the freezer in a sealed mason jar.
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