These bonbons are simply amazing. In a word, paleo crack. OK, that’s two words, but you get the picture. Chocolatey, coconutty goodness. Like an inside-out Mounds bar.
Their secret ingredient is coconut butter. (That and dates, but you already know where I stand on dates. For more on dates, see my post, California Chocolate Pudding.)
Coconut butter is simply dried unsweetened coconut, pureed into a smooth paste. Similar to peanut butter, except way more delicious. If you’ve never had coconut butter before, you’re in for a real treat. You can use it in smoothies, sauces, baked goodies, and more. But my favorite use for coconut butter is making delicious, healthy, whole food candies. After all, who said life can’t be sweet just because you don’t eat refined sugar?
Because coconut butter is a whole food, you get all the nutritional benefits of the entire coconut. Fiber, protein, oil, vitamins, and minerals. They’re all in there.
You’ll most likely find two different brands of coconut butter on your health food store shelf, Artisana Coconut Butter and Nutiva Coconut Manna. They’re both made from organic whole coconut, both are equally delish, and both work well in my bonbon recipe.
The main differences are that Nutiva is less expensive than Artisana, and Artisana is raw and produced in a gluten-free facility. Whichever one you choose, just be sure to warm the jar well and stir the oils in completely before using for the best texture. When cold, coconut butter can have a bit of a gritty texture.
In a pinch you can make your own coconut butter, although it will probably not be as smooth as the kind you buy. That may not matter once you mix it into the candy. It’s not like you’re spreading it on toast or anything. (Although people do report that coconut butter is delicious on bread. I can’t say from experience.) Just put some shredded, unsweetened dried coconut into your food processor and process away, until it turns into butter.
Because these bonbons use cocoa powder rather than melting chocolate, they’re quick and easy to make. No need to worry about temperatures, splashing water, or chocolate seizing or scorching. Quick. Easy. Delicious.
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup chopped dates
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, preferably unrefined
- 1/2 cup coconut butter
- A generous 1/2 cup unsweetened macaroon coconut, lightly toasted if desired
- Soak the dates in 3/4 cup water for 30 minutes. (The easiest way to measure is by volume: Use a clear liquid measuring container and add the water to the 6 ounce line first. Add chopped dates until the mixture reaches the 10 ounce line.)
- While the dates are soaking, warm the jars of coconut oil and coconut butter in a bowl of hot water until the coconut oil is liquid and the coconut butter is softened and pourable. (Make sure the lids are on tightly so no water gets inside the jars.) If the oil has separated to the top of the coconut butter, stir it back in until smooth.
- Blend the dates and soaking water in a blender until smooth. (On my BlendTec I use the 'Whole Juice' cycle.) Push the mixture down the sides to the bottom of the blender jar with a spatula.
- Add the vanilla, salt, and cocoa powder and pulse to combine.
- Pour the date-cocoa mixture into a bowl. You'll need a spatula to get all the chocolatey goodness out. Add the coconut oil and coconut butter. Stir well until smooth and combined completely.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more, until the mixture is the consistency of fudge.
- Roll the mixture into tablespoon-size balls. The heat from your hands may slightly melt the surface of the balls, but the entire ball should not melt. If the rolling is too messy, the bonbon mixture may need more chilling time. Return the bonbon mixture to the refrigerator for 5 or 10 minutes more and then try rolling again.
- Place the bonbons onto a pan or sheet of parchment paper. Refrigerate for a few minutes to firm up the bonbons if desired.
- Roll or gently press the bonbons in unsweetened macaroon coconut.
- Can be served chilled or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.
Have you tried coconut butter before? What’s your favorite way to use it?