May 3, 2013

Pepita Fudge - full of indulgence but free of the top 8 allergens

Mother's Day, Father's Day, Teacher Appreciation Week, the end of the school spring there are many events when we celebrate and thank those who make a huge difference in the lives of our children.  I would love to pick out the perfect gifts that truly show how much I appreciate these special people in our lives but I seldom feel like I get it right.  (Oh, how I wish I could give and receive the gift of time!!)  What I have become accustomed to doing is giving a gift card and a homemade treat -- a way for the recipient to choose what is their perfect gift and a personal way for me to show some love.

Cookies are often my go-to gifts but sometimes it's nice to go a little different, a little more decadent.  And with the weather warming up in my part of the country in the 90s this week and last, it's nice to have a treat recipe that won't add 10 degrees on to an already sweltering kitchen.  I recently discovered a 5-minute vegan fudge recipe that fits the bill.   The recipe comes from Hannah Kaminsky, the amazingly talented (and young!) author of the dessert cookbook My Sweet Vegan.  It is a naturally dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, gluten-free recipe that I have adjusted to be free of soy, tree nuts, and peanuts as well!

My first batch of fudge using semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of pepitas
The recipe is so quick and easy, it almost feels like cheating!  As I am wont to do, I tweaked the recipe a bit to fit my tastes.  I cut down the sweetness by reducing the amount of powdered sugar.  I really wanted to decrease the sweetness even more but I know that a certain amount of powdered sugar is needed in order for the fudge to set properly.  In a second batch I substituted unsweetened baking chocolate for semisweet chocolate and sweetened cocoa -- sadly this is all I happened to have at the time -- with pretty good results.  It was hard to melt the baking chocolate and the fudge turned out a little softer but it still holds up pretty well.  I think unsweetened baking chocolate and a mix of unsweetened cocoa with a little bit more powdered sugar could work to achieve a less sweet, soft fudge but I am not positive.  I haven't tried it and we have quite a lot of fudge to get through before I'm ready to make a new batch!  (I will update this post once I try this but do let me know if you try it sooner!)  Instead of adding nuts to the fudge I added roasted pepitas, the edible part of pumpkin seeds. I like to include seeds to counter the sweetness and to add more texture to the fudge.

A perfect way to showcase your fudge and impress that special person in your life is to wrap the chocolates in a candy box.  I found cake slice boxes online at but you can also find them at your local crafts supply store.  Buy some mini-cupcake liners and some ribbon and you now have the makings of a fancy gift!

I thought about cutting the fudge into heart shapes but, really, why complicate things?  It's chocolate. C'mon.  We moms love delicious chocolate no matter what it looks like.  And, to dads who are braving the kitchen to make these treats: we moms will gladly take simple squares instead of an extra pile of cutters, knives, and dishes waiting by the sink to be washed.  (Of course, my husband would never do that to me...except for on Valentine's Day, oh maybe 15 years ago.)

Vegan fudge using 1/3 cup pepitas and baking chocolate instead of semisweet chips

Feel free to double this recipe for thicker chunks of fudge or triple it and pop it in a 13"x9" pan.

Chocolate Pepita Fudge
Adapted from Hannah Kaminsky's recipe from her vegan dessert book My Sweet Vegan

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
1 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips or 4 oz unsweetened baker's chocolate squares
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
dash of salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted pepitas
  1. Whisk together cocoa powder, powdered sugar, chocolate chips (or baking chocolate) and dash of salt in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. In a separate small saucepan, cook coconut oil and coconut milk over low heat.  Stir to melt coconut oil.
  3. When the mixture just begins to bubble (it takes just a minute or two), turn off heat and remove from burner.  
  4. Add vanilla extract and a dash of salt to saucepan.
  5. Add dry mixture to saucepan.  Stir until mixture is melted and smooth.  You may have to try heat the mixture more to melt the baking chocolate.
  6. Stir in pepitas.  Then spread fudge in a greased or lined 8-inch square pan.  
  7. Cool the fudge completely on counter top.  When it is cool, refrigerate fudge for several hours to set.   Makes approximately 3 dozen 3/8-inch squares of fudge.  
  8. For thicker, roughly 3/4-inch fudge squares, simply double the recipe and set in an 8-inch square pan.
*If you are using unsweetened baker's chocolate in place of semisweet chocolate chips, you will need to add your baking squares with the coconut oil and coconut milk.  Heat mixture, stirring occasionally, until squares melt.

Raising kids -- especially kids with food allergies and other medical needs -- takes a village.  It is a weighty task that requires love, understanding, and patience.  No thank-you would be quite as powerful without the voices of our children to echo their appreciation for the work of their teachers, parents, caregivers, and advocates.  Be sure to allow time for your kids to make cards and pictures for that special person!  If your kids are feeling particularly inspired, check out some of our craft ideas for flowers, more flowers, cards, and flower cards.


  1. Looks great! My husband just brought back a bunch of enjoy life chocolate from the states, so I need to try this recipe. Thanks!

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