Ok, I have a confession…Valentine’s Day has always been a sort of “meh” holiday for me. Not that I don’t love “LOVE,” but it has always seemed uncomfortable, forced, over-marketed and a bit cheesy. I never enjoyed the huge grand gestures – it was the small everyday things that floated my boat. This April my husband and I will be married for 16 years. (Holy crap, how did that happen??) After that long together, I know he loves me, but I don’t need huge bouquets of flowers or romantic getaways to see it. I see it every time he takes my car and fills it up with gas so I don’t have to think about it. I felt it each time he got up early with one of our babies so I could sleep a little longer. And I see it every time he scoots me out of the kitchen to do all the dishes because he knows I’ve been cooking all day. Now that my friends is true love.
But in spite of myself, I do enjoy one aspect of Valentine’s Day….the chocolate!
And my kiddos have taken after me in their affinity toward the dark sweet stuff. But finding safe (as in truly gluten free and not made on shared equipment) and nut free and dairy free chocolates can be a real tough one. My solution is to make some goodies myself! Not only can I control the ingredients, I can also have a little fun and create some treats that you probably wouldn’t find in any ‘ol candy shop!
So this year I decided to make my own filled chocolates. But I wanted them simple (because I’m lazy) and I wanted them not overly sweet (because kids get waaaaay too much junk on and before the big day). It took me a few tries to get the consistency of the filling right, but I finally got there. Thank goodness! So for you my friends, here are some delectable Strawberry Cream Bon Bons with – wait for it….NO CREAM!
I found my candy molds at my local craft store for around $2 each. Quite a bargain – and you can use them year after year!
This recipe would also be great with other freeze-dried fruits such as raspberry or blueberry!
- 1 (1.2 oz) package of freeze dried strawberries (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
- 3 TBSP organic palm shortening (I used Spectrum brand)
- 3 TBSP softened coconut butter (also known as coconut manna or coconut cream concentrate by some brands - I used organic Artisana)
- 2 TBSP organic raw honey, softened
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 C dark chocolate (use chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar)
- In a food processor, puree the strawberries into a fine powder. Be sure to remove the small packet that comes inside (it helps absorb moister in the package)! I have dumped this in and blended the packet with the strawberries…such a bummer when you realize you wasted all those strawberries!
- To the food processor, add the shortening, coconut butter, honey and sea salt. Puree until it starts holding together in a ball. Cover and refrigerate the filling while you make the chocolate.
- In a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate. Be sure to remove the bowl from the heat when almost all the chocolate has melted, but not all. The remaining chocolate will melt in a minute or two (be sure to stir it to help it along), but this helps make sure you don’t heat the chocolate too much and cause those unsightly white spots once it cools. The grown-up official term for this is “tempering.”
- Now to make the treats, you have options! I used a small bon bon mold from my local craft store, and a heart shaped candy mold as well. But you can simply roll the filling into balls and hand dip them in the chocolate if you want. But for Valentine’s Day, I wanted them to look like real candies, so I used the molds.
- Fill the bon bon mold about half way with chocolate. Use a butter knife to help spread the chocolate up the sides of all the openings. Stick the tray (or trays) in the freezer to set the chocolate.
- Spoon 1/4 tsp of the filling into each bon bon and press with you fingers to mush it in there. Then fill a zip top bag with the melted chocolate and pipe it onto the tops of each bon bon. Spread chocolate evenly by tapping the tray lightly on the counter. Freeze until firm. Pop the bon bons out and store in the fridge for a firmer filling, or at room temperature for a softer filling. Repeat with remaining ingredients, remelting the chocolate as needed over the warm water in the double boiler.
- If using the heart shape molds, press 1/4 tsp of the filling into each heart opening and freeze for 10 minutes to harden. Once firm, pipe chocolate onto the strawberry filling, tapping tray on counter to spread chocolate evenly. Freeze until firm. Pop them out carefully and store in the fridge (the filling isn’t encases in chocolate like the bon bon so store this one in the fridge so the strawberry filling stays firm).