Chocolate Coconut Candy Balls

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 “From that moment and through everything that followed, sugar could always be counted on to please her. It was as though sweet things were what she was born for.” - Beloved by Toni Morrison

That pretty much sums it up. Sheer sugar with some butter thrown in for good measure. What could be better? In fact, these chocolate coconut balls are so good they were christened with the nickname “balls of heaven.” I do not know if I would go that far, but they are surprisingly good.

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I also do not know what possessed me to make homemade chocolates in August. Although the mindset for many has turned to back-to-school, the way I look at it, there are still a good two good weeks of bikini season left. Here in the south, we can probably get away with six. Bikini time is not a good time for chocolates.

But if you are in the mood for a homemade sweet, these are the way to go. The recipe yields close to four dozen chocolates, so there is plenty to go around. I think they would make for a nice homemade gift around the winter holidays or Valentine’s Day when love and comfort are in the air and bikinis are safely tucked away in dresser drawers (where they belong). Enjoy!

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Chocolate Coconut Balls
Serves: 42-28
  • 2 pounds confectioners sugar
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • 1 package chocolate bark coating
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the powdered sugar, condensed milk, butter and vanilla until well combined.
  2. Add the coconut and nuts and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Chill for at least one hour or up to overnight. This will help the mixture hold together when rolled into balls.
  4. When ready to prepare, roll tablespoons full of the mixture into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  5. Melt the chocolate bark in the microwave, heating 30 seconds at a time and then stirring until completely melted.
  6. Dip the prepared candy balls into the melted chocolate one at a time, then place on a separate cookie sheet lined with wax paper to allow the chocolate to set.
You may want to work in batches by rolling two dozen balls, then refrigerating one dozen while dipping the second dozen in chocolate and so forth.


Quinoa Almond Chocolate Bark

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Today I learned that when toasted, quinoa has a delicious nutty flavor. I also realized I should quit wasting money on waxy store-bought chocolates because with just three ingredients, I can make a delicious chocolate bark at home.

Technically, it takes five ingredients if you count the olive oil and sea salt. However, if Claire Robinson can use salt and pepper as “free ingredients” on Five Ingredient Fix, then I call olive oil and sea salt as “free ingredients” on Love & Flour. Roll with me here.

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I chose to make this bark with almonds as called for in the original recipe, but really, the options are all yours. Not a fan of almonds? I have seen a number of recipes that substitute pistachios in this bark instead. Not a fan of nuts no matter their form? How about adding dried cranberries in their place.

Heat things up by adding a sprinkle of cayenne. There is really no end to the things you can mix in to a chocolate bark. All I ask is you try the star of this recipe – toasted (or popped) quinoa – at least once.

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To further inspire you, Big Girls Small Kitchen offers up a list of Ten Best Chocolate Bark Mix-Ins to help spark your creativity. At Chasing Delicious, you can find three chocolate bark recipes in just one post. One of those recipes is of the peppermint variety. If you happen to be feeling wild, take that recipe one step further and make Peppermint Bark Popcorn as seen on Cookie + Kate.

In addition to those ideas, Brown Eyed Baker offers up recipes for Cake Batter & Chocolate Bark and Avalanche Bark. I have no doubt there are 16,000 other bark combinations out there, but those are the recipes I have pinned or rattling around in my brain as good resources. From one Thursday quickie to the next, enjoy!

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Quinoa Chocolate Bark
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pound dark chocolate, chopped
  • optional: ice cream for serving
  1. Place the olive oil in a saucepan over medium low heat.
  2. When the oil is warm, add the quinoa and allow it to toast until lightly browned, about five minutes. Perform this step as if you were heating popcorn kernels, lightly shaking the saucepan back and forth over the heat.
  3. Stir together the toasted quinoa, toasted almonds and sea salt. Reserve about three tablespoons of the mixture to sprinkle on top of the bark.
  4. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler and in the microwave. If using a microwave, heat in 30 second increments and stir after each interval until fully melted.
  5. Pour the remainder of the quinoa and almonds mixture into the melted chocolate mixture and stir until thoroughly coated.
  6. Spread the chocolate mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper and top with the reserved quinoa and almonds.
  7. Allow to sit until set, about two hours.
  8. Break into pieces and enjoy alone or served with ice cream.
I suggest rinsing the quinoa in the evening to allow it to dry overnight, or rinse in the morning and allow it to dry during the work day. To toast the almonds or other nuts, simply place them on a baking tray and allow them to sit in an oven heated to 350 degrees for a few minutes. They are done when their aroma infuses the air. Keep a close eye on the nuts during this step because they can burn very quickly.



Spice is Nice: Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows

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I felt really good about this recipe until I told my sister I made marshmallows. She responded by asking if I made them into anything. Ignoring the red flag my consciousness immediately raised, I asked her what exactly she meant. “Like shapes?” I foolishly inquired. She went on to explain she had seen homemade marshmallows made to resemble mushrooms. She further claims to have seen such a thing in real life, not just on television. Well sheesh, my marshmallows are just squares.

Simple, boring ol’ squares, but  tasty ones at that. In her defense, my sister attempted to soften the blow by reassuring me most people do not makes marshmallows at all. My hope is to change that with this delightful recipe for pumpkin spice marshmallows. I assure you, they really are quite simple and worthwhile to make.

Other than waiting for the sugar syrup to reach the correct temperature and then waiting for the mixture to whip up just right and then waiting for the marshmallows to fully set, this recipe is a breeze. If you have patience, you can conquer this recipe. In fact, even impatient cooks can make these marshmallows with relative ease.

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Case in point, if asked to note something I would like to change about myself, my tendency to indulge in impatience would be right up there. I am and always have been a rather impatient individual. That is tough to admit, but I do so in hopes you recognize even an impatient person can get through all the waiting to enjoy homemade marshmallows.

I also admit I have tried my hand at such a recipe before. In that attempt, I made (giant-sized) homemade marshmallows. After my second attempt here, I still have quite a way to go before I reach perfection, but I tell myself that is part of the fun.

My verdict? Homemade marshmallows are soft, pillowy, lovely tastes of deliciousness. That is the extent of my ability to wax poetically about food, so I hope I have done them justice. Enjoy! 

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Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • ¼ cup powdered gelatin
  • 1¼ cups corn syrup
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  1. Combine the pumpkin puree, ½ cup of the cold water and the powdered gelatin in a mixing bowl and mix until well blended.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the remaining ½ cup of cold water into a saucepan along with the corn syrup, sugar and salt.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Gently brush down the sides of the pot from time to time to return any sugar crystals that form back into the mixture.
  4. Upon boiling, place a candy thermometer into the syrup and continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 255 degrees F (hard ball stage).
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  6. With the mixer running, very slowly and very carefully pour the hot sugar solution into the pumpkin-gelatin mixture.
  7. Gradually increase the mixer speed to high and allow to whip for 10 minutes. It may be necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice if the mixture creeps up to high.
  8. At the beginning of the final minute of whipping (minute 9), sprinkle in the pumpkin pie spice.
  9. Lightly spray a standard baking sheet (I used a jelly roll pan to help contain the mixture) with non-stick cooking spray and rub gently with a paper towel to distribute the spray and remove any excess.
  10. Scrape the mixture into a prepared pan and spread as smooth as possible with an offset spatula or large knife. Be sure to coat the utensil with nonstick cooking spray as well.
  11. Set the marshmallows aside and allow to rest uncovered at room temperature for at least four hours. (Resting overnight is fine).
  12. After this final wait, cut the marshmallows with a lightly oiled knife or pizza cutter, break into individual pieces and place in a large bowl.
  13. Whisk together the cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar and pour over the cut marshmallows.
  14. Toss to coat completely and shake off excess.
  15. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container with the lid slightly ajar for one to three days.
1¼ cups powdered gelatin is equivalent to just more than 1 box or 4 envelops of Knox gelatin. In lieu of pumpkin pie spice, the original recipe called for 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves.