Getting chocolate on Valentine’s Day always feels special. I remember in elementary school, we sent “Candy Grams” to our friends and secret crushes. Candy Gram givers had the option of buying their Valentine a regular-sized candy bar from the $1 list, indicated with a pink label, or a $5 king-sized candy bar that came with a red label. When Valentine’s Day finally arrived, Candy Gram receivers spent the majority of the day eating Snickers bars, counting red labels, and rethinking their Best Friend vs. BestBest Friend list.
Years later, I still love giving and receiving chocolate on Valentines Day. It’s a fun excuse to buy my friends cute boxes of candy, and even though getting a heart-shaped box of chocolate from a crush is an admittedly over-done, lame-ish (possibly pseudo) romantic gesture, I still sort of swoon (Though to be fair, that might just be a reaction to the sugar…)
Since this year is my first Valentine’s Day as a vegan, I thought it would be fun make my own dairy-free chocolates and find interesting ways to customize them with unusual ingredients like sea salt and cayenne pepper.
You Will Need:
- 1/2 bag dark chocolate chips (check to make sure they’re vegan*)
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1.5 cup pitted dates
- 1-2 Tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
- sea salt, cinnamon, cayenne pepper (optional)
* Vegan chocolate chips can be found at the regular grocery store. Dark chocolate varieties are generally vegan, although I would check the ingredients for milk fat. Note that cocobutter is a common ingredient used in chocolate but don’t be alarmed, it’s not dairy butter.
Begin by soaking dates in warm water to soften. Set aside and arrange pecans in clusters of three, creating a star or “turtle” shape. I recommend doing this on parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy removal later on.
Then microwave chocolate and oil in 30 second intervals, stirring as you go, until the mixture is almost completely melted. Stir continuously until smooth and creamy (Doing it this way ensures the chocolate does not burn/overheat and become difficult to work with)
Drain all but 2 Tbsp of liquid from dates and blend until smooth, adding one tablespoon of warm water at a time to create a smooth paste.
Spoon mixture onto pecans and cover with chocolate. Before the chocolate cools, sprinkle each turtle with sea salt.
NOTE: Spices like Cinnamon, Ginger, or Cayenne Pepper can also be sprinkled on top for a fun twist.
Cool in the refrigerator until fully set (about one hour) and store in an air-tight container.
Wether you’re giving these Chocolate Turtles as a gift or making them as an I ❤ U to yourself, I hope you enjoy and have an awesome Valentine’s Day. If I could, I would send you all red-labeled Candy Grams…which is my way of saying I appreciate you so much!
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Happy Valentine’s Day!