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DIY: Homemade Mounds and Almond Joy Bars

Like most of us, there are certain foods – especially in the snack category – that I would never think to make myself. And yet – like most foods – a homemade version will almost always trump the storebought variety.

For starters, you have control over the ingredients, and will most likely use “real” foods as opposed to multi-syllabic chemicals. Next, you can make tweaks and adjustments to further improve the flavor and texture. And finally, there’s the undeniable satisfaction of putting out a tray of treats, standing back and watching with pride as your guests say, “Wait – are those homemade {fill in the blank}?”

So I am VERY excited about this new series, wherein I attempt to recreate some of my most beloved foods (both sweet and savory). We’ll uncover secrets, break down the details, and (hopefully) have some fun along the way!

First up?

homemade mounds and almond joy bars

Mounds and Almond Joy Bars.

A quick online search revealed dozens of recipes for these iconic candy bars. And I was surprised at how few ingredients were involved. Easy, I thought. But I wasn’t feeling inspired. I wanted these to be better, “elevated” from the originals.

And then I discovered the recipe that follows. A few minor upgrades made ALL the difference.

And I cannot begin to describe the deliciousness that’s going on here.

homemade mounds and almond joy bars

If you’ve never toasted coconut flakes before, all I can say is: Game. Changer. The texture, the crunch, the aroma, the nuttiness – you with me?

And salted almonds? Genius. That little bit of salt takes the edge off what is mostly a cloyingly sweet candy.

Finally – vanilla paste – one of  the “secret weapons” in my arsenal of baking supplies. It is filled with tiny flecks of vanilla bean, and imparts a rich, heavenly vanilla flavor to anything you use it in. If you can’t get your hands on it, don’t fret. Simply swap it for an equal amount of vanilla extract.

Ready?

homemade mounds and almond joy bars

Homemade Mounds and Almond Joy Bars
adapted from Miss Renaissance

2 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 T. vanilla paste or vanilla extract
pinch of salt
roasted salted almonds (2 per bar, depending on how many Almond Joys you are making)
15 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2-3 t. shortening (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut flakes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 10 minutes, or till light golden brown and fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

In a medium bowl whisk the condensed milk, vanilla paste and salt. Stir in the cooled coconut. Freeze mixture for 15 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove mixture from freezer and drop level tablespoons onto your prepared baking sheet (you should get about 20 spoonfuls). Using slightly damp hands (to prevent mixture from sticking), shape mixture into bars about 2″ long. Press two almonds atop each bar for Almond Joys. Place pan in freezer for at least 15 minutes, while melting the chocolate.

In a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. It should be smooth and liquid – if it’s a bit thick, add the shortening – 1 teaspoon at a time – till you reach the proper consistency. Turn off the heat but keep the bowl over the warm water.

Remove the baking sheet from the freezer. Place one candy on a fork and lower into the melted chocolate. Pour a spoonful of chocolate over the top, tapping gently on the side of the bowl to remove any excess. Place the covered candy back on the baking sheet (use another fork to push the candy off the dipping fork, if needed). Repeat with the remaining candies.

Place the baking sheet in the fridge to allow the chocolate to set. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Read more from Sheri on Donuts, Dresses and Dirt
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