I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a family that knew how to celebrate the holidays — with lots of amazing sweets! Every year my family would work for at least a week preparing for Christmas by standing over the stove dipping candy nougats in both white and dark chocolate. Chocolate covered cherries, coconut cremes, peanut butter balls, homemade caramels, and cookies all made it into the HUGE box full of our special “Christmas candies”. When we would gather with the extended family for a weekend, the 20+ people would not only look forward to the tradition, but they would happily devour the treats.
When I was first married I wanted to continue this tradition because it held such sweet memories for me, so I happily made some of everything to share with my in-laws. Needless to say, the chocolates were a hit, and everyone thought I should go in the candy-making business the next Christmas. However, I knew that I did it only for the love of sharing it with others, not because I loved making them.
Fast forward to today, and making Christmas candies is not even a priority anymore. Between food allergies and changing our approach to feeding our bodies, this has taken a hiatus. I don’t miss those hours spent standing over the stove, but this Christmas as my boys get older, I do find myself wondering if my children will grow up with Christmas treats at all. My perspective has changed over the past seven years about what is really necessary. I have been challenged to consider all the other traditions that can surround Christmas that don’t include foods that are not good for us. Sweets are inevitable around the holidays, but I have learned that they can be enjoyed in moderation and do not need to be the centerpiece of our family life.
It has been seven years since I have made any of the family “Christmas candies”, but this year I do feel the desire to see if there is a way to make ONE candy that would be a healthier alternative. I have realized that I don’t have to use the almond bark that is sold for the holidays in grocery stores across the country. I can chocolate dip something without it being coated in ingredients that are terrible for my body.
So, here is the recipe for chocolate dipping that I have found works the best as an alternative to the traditional almond bark used to “candy coat” anything. Happy Christmas candy making!
- 2/3 cup coconut oil melted
- 2/3 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted, if necessary*
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- In a small saucepan over very low heat, whisk together the coconut oil, cacao powder (sift first if your is very lumpy) and maple syrup until a smooth shiny mixture forms (this only takes a minute).
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and sea salt. Allow to sit at room temp 5–10 mins — long enough to let the chocolate thicken up a bit for dipping the truffles.
NOTE: After dipping in chocolate, place each truffle on baking sheet to cool. Once chocolate hardens, drizzle more over the top if desired, then place baking sheet in the refrigerator 10 mins until chocolate hardens.
*You might be able to substitute carob powder for this recipe. I have not tried this myself yet, but if you do, remember that every time you substitute carob powder for cacao or cocoa, the ratio is 2 part carob for every 1 part cacao.