If you or someone you love has Celiac Disease, you know that treading the waters of cross-contamination can be murky, at best. Reading labels and understanding company disclaimers means that you can no longer just grab your favorite candy bar in the checkout aisle without doing your homework first. Some items are clearly labeled gluten-free, others will list the common allergens the product contains, and some will have warnings about the product being processed in a shared facility or on shared equipment.
For people who choose to be gluten-free for personal or health-related reasons, it’s likely slightly less complicated. For those of us who have to avoid even the tiniest molecule of gluten to avoid further damage to our bodies, we have to analyze (and re-analyze) all the labels. (Side note: this is also one reason I prefer to just eat whole food and mostly make my own everything.) I learned the hard way at Thanksgiving that a completely gluten-free food (vanilla ice cream) that was made on shared equipment with other non-GF foods can still make me incredibly sick. Everyone is a little different in what their body tolerates and how they react, but the bottom line for Celiacs is that damage to the body is occurring no matter how little gluten is consumed or how minor the reaction is.
I learned recently that while plain old Reese’s peanut butter cups are, in fact, gluten-free and safe for us to consume, the specialty shapes (Christmas trees, Easter eggs, pumpkins, and hearts) are NOT considered Celiac-safe. Combine that revelation with the fact that I am also dairy-free and generally try my hardest to avoid excessive amounts of refined sugar, I considered this a personal invitation to recreate two of my favorite candies in a healthy yet still delicious fashion. Challenge accepted.
Good news. I succeeded. 🙂
In addition to recreating Reese’s chocolate peanut butter “eggs,” I also made a rendition of the famous dark chocolate and coconut combo- Mounds. Both of these are incredibly delicious and satisfy every urge my sweet tooth prompts. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, and have no refined sugar. They would make a perfect homemade treat to include in Easter baskets this year, or for any other special holiday or occasion.
I apologize for the lengthiness here, but each of these candies deserves a little bit of their own spotlight even though I combined them into one post. They are just both That. Damn. Good.
First up, my take on the Mounds Bar. (By the way, these actually are genuinely gluten-free and safe for Celiacs to eat. I just needed to get rid of the dairy.) These bars start with unsweetened shredded coconut. So many good things start with coconut… To the coconut, we add pureed raspberries and blackberries. The addition of the pureed fruit adds not only nutrition but a beautiful purple color that brings the visual appeal of these little bars to a whole new level. Coconut oil and maple syrup bind the coconut and fruit together, and then vanilla and pink Himalayan sea salt round it out. This mixture is pressed into a pan, frozen, cut into bars, and dipped into melted (dairy-free) dark chocolate. These are nothing short of dreamy, you guys. I never really thought I could love a Mounds Bar more than I already did, but the berry flavor just brings the recipe to life… You’re going to love them!
Next, the Reese’s “eggs”… a creamy, smooth, and rich peanut butter filling engulfed in a body of chocolate… (Have I mentioned how much I love Pinterest recently? Cuz all these ideas were inspired by different pins…) Natural Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter is mixed with coconut flour, maple syrup, and vanilla. It is really that simple. Use a medium cookie scoop to drop balls of peanut butter magic onto a lined baking sheet, then flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass. Off to the freezer, then these, too, take a bath in a combination of (dairy-free) semi-sweet and dark chocolate. Sprinkle with just a smidge of pink Himalayan Sea Salt… Oh. My. God…
I’m not gonna lie. I was skeptical on how these were going to turn out. I figured they would be good, edible at the very least, but I wasn’t convinced they would be crush-worthy in the world of candy. I was wrong. So wrong. Once I bit into the crunchy chocolate shell and sunk my teeth into the creamy peanut butter filling, I was on Cloud 9. Can’t wait for you to taste what I am talking about!
Berry “Mounds” Bars
3 C unsweetened shredded coconut
1 C fresh blackberries plus 1/2 C fresh raspberries, washed, dried, pureed, and strained (to remove excess seeds)
1/4 – 1/3 C coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 C pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
Dash pink Himalayan sea salt
1 1/2 C dairy-free dark chocolate chips
- In a large bowl, combine the shredded coconut and pureed and strained berries. Stir well.
- Add 1/4 cup of the coconut oil, the maple syrup, the vanilla, and the sea salt. Once mixed, take a small amount of the mixture in your hand and make sure it is sticky enough to hold together. If it is not, add the remaining coconut oil to add some extra moisture.
- Press the mixture firmly into an 11×7 baking dish lined with foil or parchment paper.
- Freeze for at least 60 minutes or until completely set.
- Meanwhile, melt dark chocolate with 1/2 tsp coconut oil in the microwave on 30-second intervals, mixing between each round, until smooth.
- Remove the coconut mixture from the freezer and cut into 15 bars.
- Dip each bar in the melted chocolate, or pour the melted chocolate on the top of each bar, smooth with a spoon, and return to the tray. Freeze until set, then flip the bars over and pour the melted chocolate on the un-dipped side and smooth. Return to the freezer for one final set up, then ENJOY!
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter “Eggs”
1 15-oz jar Natural Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 tbsp coconut flour
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 C dairy-free chocolate (I used a combination of semi-sweet and dark) plus 1/2 tsp coconut oil
pink Himalayan sea salt (optional)
- In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, 2 1/2 tbsp of coconut flour, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add up to 1 tbsp more of coconut flour, as needed. Your filling should be almost cookie dough-like. You shou ld be able to easily roll it into a ball without it sticking to your hands.
- Using a medium cookie scoop, drop rounded mounds of peanut butter filling onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a glass to slightly flatten the mounds.
- Freeze for 60 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate with 1/2 tsp coconut oil in the microwave on 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth.
- Remove the peanut butter patties from the freezer and, working quickly, dip each into the melted chocolate using a fork. Use another fork to slide the chocolate-coated peanut butter patty back onto the parchment paper.
- Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.
- Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Enjoy!
Which one will you be making first? I can’t wait to hear what you think! I am going to be grabbing one of the last three peanut butter eggs out of the fridge as my reward for adulting successfully on this oh-so-Monday Monday. Find me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram and show me how they turn out!