When I was pregnant with Little Chef (who is now not so little, but still just as “cheffy” as ever), Dreamy and I had a roll of film in need of developing. Yes, a roll of film. Such a foreign concept these days, no?
We pulled into some big box type store with a 1-hour photo lab and decided to wait in the car while our pictures were processed. On the way out of the store, we bought a big-enough-for-four-people size bag of M&Ms. (This was pre-GF and pre-food allergy days, so I could eat with abandon when I so desired.)
In the car, we chatted and ate the entire bag of M&Ms. As I recall, Dreamy consumed far more chocolate candies than I, but it has been while and I was at the end of my pregnancy, so my brain had already gone soft and sluggish. No one really knows which of us was more piggish that day. To keep things simple, we’ll just say it was Dreamy.
Suffice it to say, I’ve not touched an M&M since. Nor any other candy bar, for that matter.
I was never a candy bar fan. Unless you count the years I lived in Northeastern Victoria, Australia, and made a weekly walk to our local milk bar for a Take Five bar. ‘Course, I walked about four kilometers one way to get there, so it could’ve been worse.
I haven’t thought of candy bars lately until last week. I wanted something sweet, but not a banana or just a wedge of raw chocolate and two Medjool dates, which would be a typical sweet treat for me. I didn’t want anything baked, either, like brownies or cookies or such. I rarely want those. Too much trouble for just one bite, in my opinion.
That’s when I got the seeds and chocolate bits from the pantry and started processing this and that together, tasting and adding and deciding what exactly I was making. I let the flavors guide me through the recipe to the finished product, with which I was immensely satisfied.
I told the M&M story to Little Chef while these candy bars were coming together. Food memories, we’re making them all the time.
Now she has a story of her pre-birth, a memory of making these Better-for-You Chocolate Chewy Candy Bars with her mum and a new healthier treat to turn to instead of a processed chemical-laden sugar bomb when her sweet tooth strikes. And it will. She gets it honest… from Dreamy, of course. ;)Better-for-You Chocolate Chewy Candy Bars
This recipe is free from gluten, dairy (use DF chocolate), peanuts, tree nuts (Coconut is not a nut, learn more here), egg, refined sugar, grains.
- For the base and topping:
- Heaping ½ cup chocolate pieces, nearly ¾ cup (make sure yours are gluten-free, dairy-free if needed and free from cross-contamination of any other allergens you must avoid, such as nuts)
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil (substitute 1 teaspoon GF DF butter sub such as Nutiva, if you prefer)
- For the chewy center:
- ½ cup raw, unsalted sunflower seed kernels
- ½ cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seed kernels
- ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons hulled hemp seeds
- 1 cup Medjool date halves (pit removed and discarded)
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 pinches coarse sea salt (I use Maldon.)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (use a grain/alcohol free vanilla if you like - read more about this in Your Questions Answered)
- For the topping:
- ¼-1/2 cup coarsely grated/chopped desiccated organic coconut
- about 3 Tablespoons reserved melted chocolate (taken from the base mixture)
- Before you begin, prepare an 8x8-inch square pan by lining with parchment paper so that the parchment comes above the pan edges (for lifting the bars out later); set pan aside.
- Melt chocolate pieces and coconut oil together. Use your choice of: (1) a small saucepan over low heat (a couple of minutes), (2) a bain marie (double boiler, few minutes to melt) or (3) microwave (about 45 seconds, incrementally heating), until chocolate is just melted; stir until smooth. Be sure not to overheat the chocolate or it will seize.
- Spread all but 3 Tablespoons of the chocolate onto the bottom of the parchment lined pan, spreading evenly to cover; set aside remaining melted chocolate for the topping.
- Place the pan with chocolate in the fridge to set while you make the center.
- In the food processor, combine all chewy center ingredients and pulse to break down the ingredients. Once they begin to come together, process several minutes, until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough would. Once that happens, your filling is all done.
- Remove the ball of filling from the food processor bowl and place it between parchment or wax paper pieces (about 12x12-inch pieces are a good size, but I don't really measure these) and press/roll out to an 8x8-inch square. If you "over roll" just trim up the edges to be 8x8 inches.
- Remove the chocolate base in the pan from the fridge and place the square of filling directly on top of the chocolate base and press gently so the layers "marry".
- Sprinkle the coconut on top (if using, you can omit, if desired) and gently press it into the center layer.
- Drizzle remaining melted chocolate on top and chill to set, about 30 minutes (store in the fridge til you're ready to enjoy these).
- Once you're ready to serve, remove the pan from the fridge, carefully lift out the parchment (with the slab of candy bar on it) and place on a flat work area.
- Slice with a sharp knife into bars or squares, as you desire.
This recipe originally appeared on GlutenFreeGigi.com.
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