Valentine’s day is on Saturday and Russell Stover is hoping that you stock up on its candies made with corn syrup and “natural flavor.” But why not give your special someone a homemade treat that says ‘I made an effort for you and here’s something homemade without questionable ingredients’? Man, I should be a greeting card author…
I came up with this recipe for chocolate candies because every day after lunch at work I crave a little something sweet. A palette cleanser if you will. And yeah, I will, because I like to be fancy. But seriously, if I don’t bring a little sweet treat with me I end up going to CVS and buying those little Hershey’s nuggets and 3 other things I really didn’t need. So one day I thought, why not make my own chocolate candies? I like dark chocolate, but most “dark” chocolate is still so sugary sweet, ick. On the other side of the spectrum, unsweetened chocolate is also pretty gross. It’s a bit of a Goldilocks dilemma. I figured if I made my own candies, I could combine the two to make the chocolate as semisweet/dark as I want. (Hint: look at the percentage of cacao in your chocolate. If it’s less than 65-70%, it’s going to be pretty sweet and sugary.) And let’s face it sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you feel like 3 nuts and Almond Joy isn’t almond-y enough. With my own candies, I can choose the filling I want and make them extra nutty and crunchy.
When you make these, you can use whatever filling you like best! Try: pecans, peanuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews, coconut flakes, dried apricots, dried cranberries, dried pineapple, or any other fruit or nut. It’s pretty much as easy as melt, drop, harden, and eat. Have a happy Valentine’s Day!
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate (easiest to buy a bar of this kind of chocolate)
1 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips (semi-sweet has more sugar than bittersweet)
1 cup filling (nut, dried fruits or both)
Fit a baking sheet with a Silpat liner or wax paper. Fill the bottom of a double boiler* with water and bring to a boil. In the top part of the double boiler, melt both the semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolate together, stirring constantly until smooth. In the meantime, on the lined baking sheet, form small clusters of nuts/dried fruits 2 inches apart. For a 12 x 16 baking sheet, I can fit 24 clusters. With a spoon or small spatula, drop about a tablespoon of melted chocolate on each cluster, being careful to let the melted chocolate get in all the nooks and crannies to bind the filling together. With any extra melted chocolate, add an additional drizzle to each cluster so that all the nuts and fruits are fully encased in the chocolate. Put the baking sheet in the fridge for 2 hours or until the chocolate is hard. Transfer the candies to an airtight container. Enjoy for many weeks!
*I WISH I had a double boiler. For now in my tiny apartment, I boil water in a large saucepan, with a glass mixing bowl settled on top. Tiny kitchens require creativity!