Thursday, February 24, 2011

Purim Basket Treat Pt. I - Mounds Bar/Almond Joy Clone













Purim this year starts the evening of March 18th.  The Reader's Digest version of the Purim story is that Queen Esther helped saved the Jews of Persia from the evil Haman.   Purim is celebrated nowadays by everyone coming to services in costume, adults as well as children, and reading aloud the unabridged version of the Purim story. Whenever Haman's name is mentioned, everyone makes a lot of noise, blowing horns and spinning groggers (noisemakers) to drown out his name. Afterwards, we all party-hardy.

Another fun tradition is delivering cookies and other goodies to neighbors and friends. Kinda sorta like Halloween in reverse.

The traditional cookies found in the traditional purim basket is hamantaschen. But starting today, I will be posting alternatives to make your purim basket really outstanding.  If it ever makes it out of your house.

Raise your hand if you like Almond Joys®.  *counting hands*

Okay.  Raise your hand if you prefer Mounds Bars®.   *counting more hands*

Mounds win!  

Fine, sore losers ... you can all go shove almonds ... onto the chocolate coated tops to make Almond Joys.  Happy?

Sorry ... I'm a little cranky.  I originally made these candies several months ago, saving the recipe to post now.  The only leftovers are photos, which is murder on a chocoholic. :(

I used to make a recipe that had a lot of ingredients, including several cups of confectioner's sugar.  A powder cloud would expand and envelope the entire kitchen.  Sort of like a Stephen King movie, but with less aliens.

I have since found a much-improved version.   No confectioner's sugar, and only 3 ingredients (4 for you Almond Joy whiners fans).   It's relatively easy to make, but I can't tag it as such since dipping into chocolate (the coconut, not you) makes for a bit of a mess.  In my kitchen, at least.

Mounds Bars (or Almond Joys)
adapted from chow.com
makes around 40

1 bag (14 ozs.)  shredded sweetened coconut
8-9 Tbl. light corn syrup
whole salted almonds (for Almond Joys, optional)
1 bag (14 ozs.) melting chocolate (dark or milk)

Line a baking sheet with waxpaper; set aside.














Combine coconut and 8 tablespoons of corn syrup in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse until mixture holds shape when squeezed into a ball, about 30 or so pulses.  Add another tablespoon of corn syrup if mixture is too dry to hold its shape.

















With wet hands, pick up about a 2 teaspoon portion of the coconut mixture.  Work the mixture between hands until it is compact and smooth, then shape into a 1-1/2 inch by 3/4 inch bar (approximately).  Eyeball it, making bars a little smaller than standard Mounds Bars, because after dipping in chocolate the finished bar will be larger.














Set coconut bars on prepared baking sheet and place in the freezer until firm, at least 10 minutes.

 Meanwhile, melt chocolate in the microwave according to package directions.














Take a plastic fork and  bend and break off the middle tines to create a dipping fork.

















Remove coconut bars from freezer.  Using your newly created dipping fork, individually dip bars into melted chocolate.


















Tap the fork several times on the edge of the bowl to allow any excess chocolate to drip off, then return bar to baking sheet.


















Place baking sheet in the fridge until chocolate is set, at least 10 minutes.

If you really must have Almond Joys, gently press two almonds on top of each dipped bar, pointed ends facing inward, before the chocolate sets.  Place baking sheet in freezer for 10 minutes.  After the chocolate sets, re-dip just the side of the bar with the almonds to chocolatize them, then return baking sheet to fridge to set up bars completely.

Store in a tightly sealed container up to three weeks in the refrigerator or up to two months in the freezer. Let bars come to room temperature before serving.

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