I really love Halloween. It is, hands down, one of my favorite holidays. As a teenager, I defied labels like punk or goth, but I loved black lipstick, black nail polish and snake jewelry that other people only wore on Halloween. I revel in the fact that my daughter spent her own money recently to purchase the black lipstick she had been secretly coveting since last Halloween when she missed out. I can always be cajoled into buying theater make up, dress up costumes and Halloween accessories. I love a good Halloween party. The year my daughter was born she had not one, not two, but three Halloween costumes ready to go. A princess, a frog, and a witch. The perfect combination! But I digress. Before asthma, before food sensitivities, before GMO was the new evil anti-hero, I let my kids have candy on Halloween. I devised a made up system called “However old you are plus one!” for candy. They could then sort through all their candy, pick out the pieces they wanted to best and then they could eat it after any meal, including breakfast, until it ran out. Skittles, Sixlets, M&Ms, Nerds, Laffy Taffy, Starburst, Sweet Tarts, Smarties, Snickers, Twix, Almond Joy, Kit Kat, the creepy peanut butter pumpkins: ALL FAIR GAME. Part of our left over candy is donated to a homeless shelter and the other part is used to decorate “Spooky Houses”. This is one are where I felt less like an anal-retentive food-controlling mom and more like a “wow, that’s a great solution” mom. And then came asthma, food sensitivities and GMOs, but not in that particular order. Last year it was only dairy, so all I had to do was buy some vegan chocolate. That was pretty simple. And then came 2013. This year it’s dairy and soy and corn (and others), which basically eliminates each and every mass-produced candy on the market. Including that damn vegan chocolate. But never fear, Halloween loving super DIY mom is here! (There should be trumpets in there somewhere, right???) I refuse to give up candy on Halloween. I refuse to switch-witch it out for some other stuff they don’t need. Dare I say it? I want them to have candy.
So, my 2013 solution is part purchase, part homemade and for me, that is a perfect solution. This company, Natural Candy Store, has lots of solutions including candies free of the top 8 allergens. I ordered a selection of flavored organic hard candies that use cane sugar and natural food-based flavors (pomegranate, blood orange, mango mint) and 100% maple syrup candies. I also messed up and ordered some pate de fruits, but realized when I received them that they contain corn syrup, albeit not HFCS. From my local Asian market, I bought chewy tamarind candy with the following ingredients: tamarind, salt, sugar, plum. Their texture is like taffy and both kids have already approved them. Lollipops from Trader Joe’s. Gin-Gins from DeKalb Farmer’s Market. These are all candies that do not include dairy, soy, gluten or corn.
And now to the homemade. I like to read recipes. At any given time, there are probably 20 candy recipes in my “Candy” favorites tab. I was thinking though, that to round this candy-fest out, I needed to make a candy bar or a chocolate. Something decidedly not fruity. I settled on a “Mounds” type bar and an “Almond Joy” type bar after asking the kids what they wanted. I looked at this site and this site and compared their recipes, which are very similar.
And then I did this:
Set up food processor.
Dumped in one bag of shredded coconut from DeKalb Farmer’s Market.
Added in one box of creamed coconut (or you could use coconut butter).
Eyeballed a few tablespoons of coconut oil.
Drizzled in some raw honey (mine happened to be tulip poplar, which made it a little darker).
Pulsed it together, then ran it until it started to smooth out. Tasted it.
Remembered I forgot the vanilla. Added a drizzle of vanilla paste. Added a trickle of vanilla extract.
Pureed it until it was well blended. Tasted it again. Decided I liked it.
Retrieved previously made cacao almonds from pantry.
Scooped mounds onto a cookie sheet, then shaped them into little logs.
Pressed almonds onto half of them. Dry roasted almonds would taste great here.
Put cookie sheet into freezer to harden.
Typed up this blog post.
Now, you have choices for chocolate. Milk chocolate is out for us, but that would be good. So, for soy-free dark chocolate, there are three options. First (I am not doing this!), you can make your own by mixing sugar, cacao butter and cacao powder. Second, you can use a chocolate bar that has a high enough cacao percentage that it does not contain soy (I settled on 85% Lindt), third you can use Enjoy Life chocolate chips or chunks, which are semi-sweet and will be much sweeter than the Lindt. I decided to go with sweeter for Halloween, although, when I make peanut butter cups, I use the Lindt and add a little bit of sugar. So, melt 1 Cup of chocolate chips or chunks using your favorite method. Thin the chocolate slightly by adding a tablespoon or so of either coconut oil or cacao butter. I have both, so I used both. The coconut oil (unrefined) adds a little coconutty taste and the cacao butter boosts the chocolate impact.
Dip each coconut bar in chocolate and put back into the fridge to harden.
Store in the fridge. Eat. Repeat. For best results, remove candy from the fridge 10-15 minutes before you want to eat it. (Who are we kidding here? I just have to say this because that gives the filling an ideal texture, instead of being on the hard side from the coconut oil content.)
PS: You will have leftover chocolate. Store it in a covered bowl until I post another recipe that uses chocolate coating. Or, dip any dried fruit in your pantry in it and you will be happy. The chocolate is not tempered, so once dipped, it needs to live in the fridge. Dried mandarin oranges are quite tasty.