Coconut Joy for My Birthday

“You say it’s your birthday; it’s my birthday too …” No? Just me. Honestly, I’m okay with that. I’ve never been a center of attention kind of girl, but this is an exciting birthday for me.

I’m in New York City … for the first time ever (can you tell from the way I spell out New York City that I am a total small town west coaster? I keep thinking of those old – Old El Paso commercials – New York City!) … and I’m on my way to meet a wonderful friend in person, for the first time. Yes, lots of firsts going on here.

I have a little secret I’m going to share with you all, because I feel like a little gift giving on my special day. Some of you know the first part, but very few of you know the whole story, so here goes. I am not only an author, I am also a publisher, thanks to the title My Sweet Vegan. You may know the author of My Sweet Vegan as the incredibly talented Hannah from Bittersweet. Over three years ago, Hannah and I became fast friends via the internet, BUT we have never met in person. Not once. Sure, there have been hundreds if not thousands of emails (oh how I miss those emails filled with surprise photos of delectable no goodies), and many phone calls, but living on opposite sides of the country has kept us from meeting face to face. Until today.

Preparing for the excitement of this trip, I decided that today’s post must be one of Hannah’s recipes. Something sweet, something timely, hmmm chocolate candy perhaps?

Hannah’s photo of this homemade vegan candy bar is far more attractive than mine (per standard), but I still wanted to show my version as a tribute.

Oh, and as a double bonus, the beautiful Lori and her mom stopped by my house as I was making these! Lori was actually the first blogger (let alone food blogger) that I have ever met in person (AND she came bearing sweet treats that she made). The firsts just keep on coming this month don’t they? Okay, back to the candy, as a confirmation of the recipe below, both Lori and her mom (and my husband) gave these little bars two thumbs up!

I had to make a slight variation to the recipe (I didn’t want to open a whole can of coconut milk for the small amount needed in this recipe when I was heading out of town!), and added one very small tweek. But, it is still Hannah’s recipe. For her absolute original version, see the front page of Go Dairy Free. I posted the original recipe there today, with Hannah’s photos and all.

Oh, and this recipe is merely a taste of Hannah’s candy talent. You can get her Wicked Treats e-cookbook for just $3! It includes vegan and gluten-free recipes for all of the following: Ghostly Vanilla Fudge, Jelly Bites, Licorice, Peanut Butter Fingers, Rice Crackle Bars, and Tootsie Chews.

Okay, and now for your recipe “gift!” And just in case you were wondering, I am 36 years old today – but I don’t feel a day over 10.

Cashew Joy Candy Bars

Recipe adapted from Hannah Kaminsky, author of My Sweet Vegan and the Sweet Vegan eBook Collection, and blogger at Bittersweet.

The sad two or three almonds in an Almond Joy confuse me to no end, and while I still think it would be more apt to call it a Coconut Joy, I decided to go with the flow, and make my own version, with cashews instead. Definitely no copycat recipe, but one inspired by the classic, this chocolate bar is a delicious treat in its own right.”

  • 1 Cup Cashews
  • 2 Tablespoons Milk Alternative (I used Hemp Milk)
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil, Melted
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar, sifted
  • Pinch Salt
  • 2-2/3 Cups Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 12 Ounces Rice Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, or Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Finely Chopped

Heat your oven to 350ºF. Place the cashews on a baking sheet, pop them in the oven and allow them to toast for 3 minutes. Remove, give the nuts a stir, and toast them for another three minutes. Set aside 1/2 cup of whole cashews. Chop or grind the remaining 1/2 cup of cashews. I coarsely ground them in my spice grinder. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk alternative, coconut oil, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, and salt until smooth, switch over to a spatula, and stir in the shredded coconut and chopped or ground cashews, until fully incorporated and no dry patches in the mixture remain.

Transfer the mix into a lightly greased 8 x 8-inch square pan, and press down and smooth out the top. Place the whole cashews at regular intervals in even lines down the pan, pressing them in gently. Move the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, until chilled and firm.

When you’re ready to enrobe your bars, melt down your chosen chocolate in the microwave, stirring thoroughly at 30 second intervals, until smooth. Set out a silpat or piece of parchment paper, and go retrieve the frozen coconut centers. Slice into bars, and then carefully dip them into the chocolate. A few flakes of coconut may come off, but just fish them out of the pool of chocolate and continue. You may wish to store the pieces in the freezer until the moment that you’re ready to dip them, if them seem particularly fragile.

Tap off the excess chocolate, and place the bars on your silpat or parchment paper, and let cool until set (I popped them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes because I was antsy). Store at room temperature in an air-tight container.

Can make about 4 dozen mini-bars 2 dozen larger bars