By Sara Andrews
It’s almost a universal truth that everyone loves chocolate – not everyone of course, but most of us. It can be relatively easy to find dark chocolate bars free of dairy – but even those sometimes contain animal sourced products (usually milk fat). There are a lot of other types of animal-free chocolate candies you can only get from specialty stores online or not at all. This is where I like to step in and make my own.
Making chocolate candies can be a bit messy – but I find it is worth it in the end and only something I do once or twice a year. These work great for gifts and holiday gatherings as well. You don’t need any fancy equipment or tools to do it.
The hardest part is deciding what kind of chocolate to make. A few of my favorites are chocolate covered nuts, chocolate covered gelatin-free marshmallows, and peanut butter cups. I also like making chocolate covered fruit like strawberries and cherries.
Unless you are extremely ambitious and want to make your own from scratch the first thing you need is chocolate. Fortunately, finding dairy-free chocolate chips has gotten easier over the years. If you live in a rural area they can be ordered online or even purchased at some chain grocers. You can use any other type of chocolate bars as well. It’s easy to melt chocolate chips and I like semi-sweet so that’s why I prefer them.
Many chocolates can be produced without a mold but for peanut butter cups it’s ideal to have one or two. You can buy inexpensive plastic molds at any place that sells candy making supplies. I got mine at Michael’s craft store about a dollar each. You can also buy nicer silicone ones if you decide chocolate making is your thing.
With just a metal or glass bowl and a sauce pan you can make your own double boiler to melt your chocolate. There’s a short video on how to do this here. Tip: It’s really important to keep moisture out of your chocolate. It will cause issues. Sadly, I know this from experience. Make sure your bowl is dry before adding the chocolate!
Once your chocolate is melted you can dip items into the chocolate and remove them with a spoon. Make sure you are placing them on a non-stick surface like wax paper so they can cool. It’s that simple. This works for nuts, fruit, and vegan marshmallows (I always choose Dandies because they are stable at room temperature and delicious).
If you want to make more complex filled chocolates like peanut butter cups it’s a two-step process. You coat the inside of the mold with a thin layer of chocolate; I usually do this using a small measuring spoon. Then you let that cool. Sometimes I speed the process by putting it in the refrigerator. Then add your filling of choice – I’ve used coconut milk caramel, peanut butter mixed with powdered sugar, and pumpkin spice mix. Top the mold with chocolate and let cool.
Once they are cool you can pop them out and you are done! Depending on your filling these are usually good for several weeks IF they last that long without being devoured.