Homemade Almond Joy Bars/Truffles

Homemade Almond Joy Bars/Truffles... a healthier option. Growing up, one of my favorite candy bars was Almond Joy or Mounds. I didn't have it regularly, but when I did, I enjoyed it immensely.While coconut wasn't something we grew up with, I instantly loved it when I first tried it. Now I don't exactly remember when my first encounter with coconut happened, but I do remember making a German chocolate cake quite often as a teen. It was a cake we all loved, moist, chocolate-y and coconut-y. So my love for coconut has always found it's way in my baking... 

I've often contemplated making my own almond joy candy bars, but couldn't see myself adding the sweetened condensed milk most recipes require. I don't buy it, so I knew I had to settle for using something else. And in all honesty, I wanted to make a healthier version, without adding too much sugar. Of course making something taste as good as the store-bought version isn't going to happen without using lots of sugar and other ingredients. So the idea of making my own healthier homemade version of almond joys sort of took a back seat. Over the years, I settled in making other coconut desserts that satisfied my craving for almond joy... such as the almond joy macaroons.  

Recently, as I was looking at some recipes, I ran into a healthy version of the almond joy... and I instantly knew it was high time I make them. I had all the ingredients at home, and the recipe sounded super easy. Ended up making them in no time.... and even doubled the recipe to make some almond joy truffles. Seems like I always have to add my own signature:). Anyway, it was a fun little project... and as a result, I ended up with a container with yummy chocolates, including some walnut clusters I made with the leftover melted chocolate. Nothing wasted, and it was so much cheaper... and healthier. Granted these almond joy bars weren't as moist as the store-bought version, but they're still coconut-y and chocolate-y delicious! And they are a great addition to the date and nut truffles I posted recently... varies the chocolate "box" a bit. Hope you enjoy...    
Tip: Keep bars/truffles in the fridge if chocolate isn't tempered...

You will need: adapted from Food52 
Double recipe, if also making truffles... and chop almonds. 
Makes about 10 pieces

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup/honey(honey is sweeter)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
few drops of almond extract, optional
small pinch of salt
10 whole almonds lightly toasted, or as needed 
4-5 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips or bars, chopped

walnuts for making the clusters, if you have leftover melted chocolate

1. Lightly toast your almonds, if desired. Toaster oven works great for this.

2. In a food processor, process the shredded coconut, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, and salt until it forms a thick paste. If  you find the coconut  mixture is too loose to hold together, then continue to process for an additional minute or so.

3. Take about 2 tsps worth of coconut mixture and with your fingers, form small compact rectangles (1 1 1/2-1 3/4 inch). Make an indentation in the middle... to hold the almond. 

4. Place coconut rectangles on a parchment lined plate/sheet and add an almond on top of each. 

5. Place coconut rectangles in freezer and freeze till hardened.... 30 minutes or longer.  

6. When ready to dip, melt chocolate... using a bain marie or the microwave(15 sec interval, stirring till almost melted, allowing for some smaller chocolate pieces to be seen, let sit until completely melted and stir)

7. Remove coconut rectangles from freezer and dip each in the melted chocolate, turning over to completely cover and removing with a fork. 

8. Tap fork on the edge of the bowl to remove excess chocolate and then scrape the bottom of the fork. Place chocolates on parchment paper lined plate. The chocolate will harden quickly. I like to place the almond joys in the fridge  for storing... then bring them to room temperature before serving. 
~If making truffles, form coconut mixture into balls, freeze and dip in chocolate,... then  sprinkle with almonds. You may need to add a bit of melted chocolate on top of teh truffle( chocolate has dried) so the chopped almonds stick. Place on parchment paper...

~If you have any remaining chocolate, stir in walnuts( or even extra almonds)... to make clusters.  Allow to set on parchment paper.