Easter was a favorite holiday in my family’s house. Not so much for the egg hunts or bunnies – well, maybe the chocolate bunnies. My mom was an ace at creating delicious candies. There were little squares with silky cream centers. White chocolate bows on dark chocolate bunnies and adorable coconut nests with jelly bean eggs. All homemade. But my favorites where the peanut butter eggs.
Her original recipe used no less than a full pound of powdered sugar. Yea, there was peanut butter in there too, a little cream cheese and vanilla. But it was far from health food. I vividly recall sneaking out to the kitchen in the middle of the night to eat the candy filling from the fridge, before it was dipped in chocolate. Hilariously, I often bumped into my dad and my brother engaging in the the extact same stealth activity. The next day, Mom would go to dip the candy eggs into chocolate, only to discover there were almost none left.
Over the years I made her original recipe just swapping in vegan cream cheese, but nowadays, the idea of 16 ounces of powdered sugar isn’t as appealing as it used to be. So I adapted. Now, make this simple candy filling using only pitted dates, natural peanut butter and vanilla. And it’s as good as Mom’s. I swear it! This recipe is both vegan and gluten-free.
Healthier Peanut Butter Eggs
1 cup pitted dates (about 12-14 dates)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup smooth, natural peanut butter
3 to 4 Tbls. coconut flour
1 bag vegan chocolate chips
Soak dates in water for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Add soaked, pitted dates and vanilla extract to a food processor or high-powered blender and let run until the dates are a smooth paste with no chunks remaining. You may need to scrape the sides down a few times. Add the peanut butter and combine with dates in the food processor. The resulting candy filling should be somewhat stiff. It is not, add coconut flour by the tablespoon full until the filling is the texture of new Play-Doh or like clay from a potter’s wheel. A lot of this step will depend on how moist the dates and peanut butter are. Sometimes two tablespoons of coconut flour is enough; other times, six is the magic number for the flour. The filling should be moldable when you grab a chunk, and hold it’s form.
When done mixing, turn the candy filling out onto parchment or wax paper and roll into a large ball. Wrap in the paper thoroughly and allow to chill for 4 to 8 hours; overnight is fine.
After the candy filling has chilled, it’s time to make the eggs and dip into chocolate – this is the fun part.
First, line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Divide the candy filling into 15 to 20 segments, as large as you want each egg to be. Roll the candy into eggs and place on the cookie sheet to make sure there is enough room for all of them.
Melt the chocolate next. You can put it in a microwave on low heat and cook at 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between to ensure even melting. You can also use a 1 quart slow cooker or a double boiler, whatever your preferred method.
Dip each egg into melted chocolate and place back on lined cookie sheet. When all eggs are dipped in chocolate, place cookie sheet in a cool place for chocolate to harden. It will take about an hour, depending on how cool the area is. They are also delicious frozen!
Dare you to wait till Easter to eat these beauties!
I use salted, smooth, natural peanut butter to make my candy, but you are welcome to use unsalted and/or crunchy, depending on your preferences. If you have peanut allergies, the recipe works well with almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower seed butter. Also, if you can’t find coconut flour (mine is from Bob’s Red Mill), you can grind up your own using unsweetened coconut flake in a food processor or high-powered blender. Almond meal also works and is easy to find at Trader Joe’s and even our local Giant.
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