April 11, 2011

Easter Chocolates - no foil wrappers but no major allergens either!

I admit it.  As much as I get overwhelmed by the commercialization of holidays (really, do we need to see hearts and cupids everywhere the DAY AFTER NEW YEAR'S??), I am a sucker for chocolate treats.  With Easter I have warm, fuzzy memories of baskets filled with fake grass, our decorated hard-boiled eggs, and tiny foil-covered eggs and rabbits.

Having two kids who are milk-allergic, one of whom is also peanut-allergic, means no store-bought chocolates.  While this can be a big plus (allergies are a valid excuse for always skipping the candy aisle), sometimes my nostalgia for bite-sized chocolates gets the best of me and I long for a way for my kids to enjoy the same childhood treats that I had.

With chocolate bunnies and eggs on the brain and Amazon.com always a few taps of the keyboard away, I decided to check out my options.  And lo and behold, I found some candy molds, perfect for creating our own allergy-free chocolate candies.

CK Products offered the widest selection of chocolate molds on Amazon.  They are made of plastic and perfect for use with melted chocolate. If you know exactly what shape you're looking for, it is easiest to search for "CK mold" plus the shape name (e.g. "CK mold Easter"), so that you don't have to sift through the dozens of designs.  I personally enjoyed browsing through the extensive collection.  A chocolate lobster?  Chocolate dinosaurs? Chocolate chess pieces?  Some of the shapes looked almost too good to eat.

At the time of my ordering, many molds were on sale for $2.00 a sheet.  The perfect price for experimenting!  After careful consideration (of my pocketbook) I decided to buy a simple egg mold and a rabbit mold for Easter.  I also bought five other molds for future projects.

For making chocolates, I used Trader Joe's semi-sweet chocolate chips.  They are milk-free and gluten-free.  They do contain soy lecithin so if you have soy-allergic, I recommend checking out Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips, which are free of all top 8 food allergens.

Chocolate Candy recipe

1 bag of dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Trader Joe's)
2 Tbsp vegetable shortening (If you are soy-allergic, too, use palm-oil-based Spectrum Organic Shortening)
(optional) a few drops of extract of choice such as peppermint, orange

  1. Put chocolate chips and shortening in a bowl.  For the best chance at a shiny smooth finish, melt over low heat on the stove.  I use a lipped Pyrex bowl that is partly submerged in an inch of heated (not boiling) water.  It's better than a microwave for controlling how hot your mixture gets.  You want to prevent your chocolate from becoming too hot and "seizing", which leaves you with dull, grainy clumps.  For more tips on melting chocolate, check out this helpful article.
  2. Stir constantly.  When more than half of the chips mixture has melted, remove bowl from heat.  
  3. Continue stirring until all chips and shortening have completely melted and no lumps remain.
  4. Spoon small amounts of chocolate into each mold.  Start with less -- it's easier to add a little to fill it than to take away from an overflowing cavity!
  5. Freeze sheets of mold for 10 minutes.  The candies should easily fall out by overturning the sheet and gently pressing or twisting the sheet.  
  6. Store candies in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. 

In addition to Easter and Valentine's chocolates, candy molds are great for making fun and inexpensive party favors, too! 

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