In the United States, there is a popular candy store called See’s Candies, which can pretty much be found in any busy shopping mall. Growing up, my parents would receive many boxes of See’s Candies Assorted Nuts and Chews chocolates for the holidays, hide them, and every so often take a box out for all their six children to enjoy.
Looking back, I can see how being the youngest in my family could have shaped my taste in chocolate candy, specifically See’s Candies chocolates. My sisters, older and bigger than me, would move swiftly toward the chocolate box and strategically choose candies of their choice leaving me with the undesirable ones. This explains my exuberant passion for the candies that my sisters considered revolting. For example, just this past holiday season, I noticed that my two favorite candies from See’s Candies happened to be the ones that were left in the box and untouched–Scotchmallows and Mayfair chocolates. The Scotchmallows are “a layer of caramel with a layer of honey marshmallow covered in rich, dark chocolate.” The Mayfair chocolates are “creamy soft center with walnuts, cherries and vanilla covered in smooth milk chocolate.” I don’t quite understand why my sisters find those two flavors undesirable. To me, they are awfully delicious and fun to eat! In my pre-vegan days, I would stop in at See’s Candies just to buy one piece of either the Scotchmallow or Mayfair chocolate. So good!
Most recently, I went to the mall and when I walked past See’s Candies I was reminded of my beloved Mayfair candy. Since See’s Candies does not offer a vegan variety, I decided to create my own version. I’m calling it Yayfair because my name starts with a ‘Y’ and I like the word “yay!” This recipe tastes like the real thing, only it’s not bad for you. No cholesterol or refined sugar. It’s simply chocolate candy with dried cherry, walnuts, hemp seeds and vegan date “caramel.” It’s raw and such a nice, guilt-free treat!
Here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!
Yayfair Chocolate Candy
Makes 9 – 10 candies
V, GF, GFV, ND, R
4 large and soft medjool dates (if not soft, soak in filtered water overnight in the refrigerator and drain the water), pitted
1 1/2 tablespoon almond milk
1/2 tsp almond extract (or vanilla extract, no alcohol)
pinch fine sea salt
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup walnuts
2 tbsp hemp seeds
7 tbsp cacao powder
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp cocoa butter, melted
1 tbsp maple syrup
4 drops liquid stevia Stevia and more, as needed
1. Place the dates, almond milk, sea salt, and almond extract (or vanilla extract) in the food processor. Process until smoothish, somewhat like caramel. Taste the mixture. Adjust the almond (or vanilla flavor), if you wish.
2. To the food processor, add the walnuts, dried cherries and hemp seeds and pulse a few times. You will still want texture from the nuts and cherries, so be careful not to over-process.
3. a) Scoop mixture into a silicone ice cube tray, adding just enough of the mixture to each mold to make a cube with equal sides. Flatten and level the top with your fingers.
b) Alternatively, if you don’t have a silicone ice cube tray, line a loaf (bread) pan with parchment, using cooking spray to keep the parchment in place. Add the mixture to half of the pan and flatten, smooth out the top.
4. Place the candies in the freezer until frozen, about 3-4 hours or overnight.
If you are placing the candies in a loaf pan, remove from the freezer after 30 minutes and cut into 9 – 1 1/2 inch cubes, or however many cubes you wish. Place back in the freezer to freeze completely.
5. When the candies are almost frozen, make the chocolate coating. In a small bowl, mix together all of the coating ingredients and adjust sweetness by either adding more stevia or maple syrup.
6. Prepare for coating the candies with chocolate:
a) Line a small sheet tray (1/4 sheet tray) with parchment paper.
b) Take out a fork and a large spoon to assist you with coating the candies with chocolate.
c) Remove the candies from the freezer and quickly punch out the candies from the silicone ice cube mold. Alternatively, remove the cubes from the bread pan and parchment.
Note: When you start coating the candies, you will need to move quickly since the frozen candy will freeze the chocolate almost immediately.
7. If you’re right-handed, hold the fork in your left hand (opposite if you’re a lefty). Place the candy on the fork. Hold the spoon with your left hand. Quickly dunk the bottom of the candy in the chocolate. Wipe the bottom with the back of the spoon and very quickly, spoon chocolate all over to coat the candy. Remember, to work quickly or you will see layers of chocolate coating. Quickly, place the candy on the lined sheet pan and sprinkle hemp seeds lightly on top of the candy before the chocolate sets. Repeat until you are done coating the candies with chocolate. If the coating chocolate in the bowl starts to set, gently heat it so it’s easier to work with. If you run out of chocolate, make a little more.
8. Store in refrigerator to set and until ready to serve.
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