The trouble with “recreating” classic candies that will strike a chord with both nostalgic adults and sweets-seeking kids, is that I was never really ate many of those original concoctions in the first place. After every Halloween conquest, my sister and I had a very specific ritual, painstakingly lining up our plunder on the living room floor, making what we would later call a “candy parade.” Sweets were grouped by type and content, in order of preference, of course. Once that was all done, and we both had time to admire each other’s take, the swapping would begin. Down to the end of the line we would both bound, eager to pawn off our least favorite treats in return for something a bit more palatable. Pretty much anything with nuts was out for me, as I had trouble with the concept of crunchy bits inside anything else at the time, so that severely limited the number of varieties I ever tried, to say the least.
And if there was a particular bar or patty that contained coconut? Well, you could just forget about it; Neither of us wanted anything to do with those distasteful nuggets, and would resort to trading with a less discriminating candy enthusiast, such as our mom or dad. Sure, they usually only had hard candies to barter, which fell very low on the scale of candy value, but anything was better than coconut.
Oh, how things change. The problem, it turned out, wasn’t the coconut itself, but that nauseatingly over-sweetened stuff, sticky with corn syrup and chemical perservatives. So I’ve never had a Mounds Bar, and definitely no Almond Joy‘s have ever passed my lips, but they still intrigue me enough that I set out to try making something similar. The sad two or three almonds in an Almond Joy confuse me to no end, and while I still think it would be more apt to call it a Coconut Joy, I decided to go with the flow, and make my own version, with cashews instead.
Definitely no copycat recipe, but one inspired by the classic, this chocolate bar is a delicious treat in its own right.
Cashew (Coconut) Joy
3 Tablespoons Full Fat Coconut Milk
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, Melted
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
8 Ounces (About 2 2/3 Cups) Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
1/2 Cup Chopped, Toasted Cashews
1/2 Cup Whole Toasted Cashews
12 Ounces Rice Milk Chocolate, or Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Finely Chopped
In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar. Once smooth, switch over to a spatula, and stir in the shredded coconut and chopped cashews, until fully incorporated and no dry patches in the mixture remain.
Transfer the mix into a lightly greased 8 x 8-inch square pan, and use the bottom of a measuring cup or drinking glass to press down and smooth out the top. Place the whole cashews at regular intervals in even lines down the pan, pressing them in gently. Move the pan in the freezer for at least 3 hours, until chilled and firm.
When you’re ready to enrobe your bars, melt down your chosen chocolate in the microwave, stirring thoroughly at 30 second intervals, until smooth. Set out a silpat or piece of parchment paper, and go retrieve the frozen coconut centers. Slice into bars, and then carefully dip them into the chocolate. A few flakes of coconut may come off, but just fish them out of the pool of chocolate and continue. You may wish to store the pieces in the freezer until the moment that you’re ready to dip them, if them seem particularly fragile.
Tap off the excess chocolate, and place the bars on your silpat or parchment paper, and let cool until set. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container.