When the server sets those mints on the edge of the table, all bets are off. First come, first serve. You know what I'm talking about. Okay, so I don't eat at this particular establishment anymore. But when I did, it was mostly for the mints. Never mind that I could just buy the mints from the store. Apparently there was something special about the ones you receive after chowing down on bread sticks. (It's not just me, right?)
Since I don't eat there anymore, I wanted to make my own healthier version of Andes mints. Because those store ones are still not good enough. (Well, they do have partially hydrogenated oils and soy which I really try to avoid. Not to mention the artificial dyes. Yeah, good enough reason to make my own.) After makings some peppermint patties back in Dec (I might share my recipe later), I decided I wanted to make homemade Andes Mints instead. When I get an idea in my head, it becomes an obsession. My nephews are cool with this because usually there are sweets involved, like my lemon tarts. I've been working on this obsession since January and since I'm about to embark on the autoimmune protocol (more on that later), it's time for me to post this and get all of this chocolate off my hands.
|This filling was real mint and a tiny bit of mint oil.|
Just FYI, the reason I labeled these "paleo" is just so you know they are not full of junk. Simple as that. :)
|They look rustic, right? I'm cool with that.|
- Chocolate: Find one that you like, whether it's bars, chips (anxiously waiting for Enjoy Life's dark chocolate chips to hit stores!), baking chocolate (that you sweeten), or make your own.
- Good quality chocolate bars: Good quality dark chocolate (in moderation) is okay for paleo. Check out the top picks from Mark's Daily Apple. My favorites are Green and Black's and Alter Ego (non-GMO, sustainable, all that good stuff!). Read Chris Kresser's thoughts on soy lecithin (commonly found in chocolate).
- Make your own chocolate: I'm still working on a ratio of ingredients that I prefer. A few options from other wonderful bloggers: The Coconut Mama's bars or Chocolate Covered Katie's bars or Whole New Mom's chips
- Mint flavor:
- Flavoring oils (diluted): I really like these best with mint flavoring oil (peppermint and spearmint oil in a carrier). The one I use, here, is in sunflower oil. If you don't like the taste of the spearmint flavor, you can use peppermint flavoring oil (which I've tried), but start with a little less. It's more intense. See recipe for amounts I used.
- Extracts: Add to taste. I made one batch with mint extract (not peppermint), Watkins brand, and used 1 - 1 1/4 tsp for chocolate and 1/4 tsp for middle. Adjust to taste. Start with less for peppermint! (If your chocolate seizes with extract, add extra coconut oil to smooth it out.)
- Concentrated oils (ones for internal use): I haven't tried this, but use much less. I would start with a drop or two and taste.
- For mini cups, add almost a tsp of chocolate to bottom of each liner (silicon or doubled paper). Place in fridge until hard (5 minutes). Add 1/2 -1 tsp coconut butter to each cup, spreading with spoon or tapping gently on table to distribute. Harden, then repeat with top layer of chocolate. Refrigerate until firm.
- Coconut butter troubleshooting: If your coconut butter mixture is not smooth after mixing with coconut oil, add to a food processor with 2 tbsp of warm water and process until smooth. Don't have coconut butter? Make your own.
Paleo Dark Chocolate Mints (Copycat Andes Mints)
What you need:
For the chocolate layers
1 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate bar, or approximately 6 oz (or Enjoy Life chocolate chips)
1/2 tbsp coconut oil (1 tbsp with chocolate chips)
1 - 2 tsp mint or peppermint flavoring oil* (Start with less and adjust to taste.)
For the middle layer
1/4 cup coconut butter, melted
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or cacao butter for smoother texture)
1/2 - 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
1/8 - 1/2 tsp mint flavoring oil* (Start with less, adjust to taste.)
dash salt (very small dash)
Optional: 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: 1/8 - 1/2 tsp spirulina and/or matcha powder
OR 6-8 mint leaves (about 1/2 tbsp)**
*Important: I used Frontier flavoring oil which is mint oils diluted in a carrier (sunflower). Start with low amount of flavor and adjust to taste. If you use peppermint instead of mint, use less as it's more intense. I use 1 1/2 tsp mint OR 3/4 (up to 1) tsp peppermint (both were diluted flavoring oils) for chocolate layer and 1/2 tsp mint OR 1/4 tsp peppermint for middle layer. This is what suits my taste. I prefer using mint over peppermint (mint includes spearmint and peppermint oils) for this recipe. See notes for extract amount and other alternatives.
**If using mint leaves, only add mint oil if needed to taste. The mint leaves give plenty of flavor on their own.
|Can you see the tree shadow in my chocolate? I call it art.|
How to make: (It looks involved but it's very easy.)
1. Melt coconut butter set aside. To melt in the jar, place opened jar in a saucepan with water and place over low heat until melted. This may take 10-15 minutes. Once coconut butter is melted, set aside and add coconut oil to small Pyrex and place in saucepan of water to melt. Mix sweetener into coconut oil and mix well. Set these aside until ready for middle layer.
2. Melt chocolate in a dry glass bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Do not allow water to get in the chocolate. While chocolate is melting, cut a piece of wax paper to fix the bottom of a 8x8 glass pan. (See notes for using mini cups.) If using parchment paper, you will need to dab melted chocolate under each corner to hold it down. *If you want to temper your chocolate, see this post from David Lebovitz.
3. Remove chocolate from heat and wipe moisture from bottom of bowl. Add coconut oil and mint flavor, mixing well. Pour half (about 1/3 cup) of chocolate into pan and spread with the back of a spoon or gently shake pan to distribute. Place in freezer for 4-6 minutes or until just firm.
4. While chocolate is setting, mix together melted coconut butter, coconut oil/honey, mint flavor, salt and optional color. Add green powders until you reach desired color. I use about 1/16 of spirulina and 1/8 of green matcha powder together. I like the color with a mix of both, but you can use either or both. (With this small amount, it won't affect flavor.)
*For mint leaves, add all ingredients to food processor (except mint flavor) to puree for color and flavor. Add mint flavor only if needed to taste.
|As you can see, I like just a hint of green. Add more as desired, but too much can affect the taste.|
5. Remove pan from freezer when chocolate has matte finish (no longer shiny). Don't leave too long or layers will not stick. Pour coconut butter mixture on top and shake or gently tap on table to create a thin layer. Place in freezer until just firm (4-6 minutes).
6. Remove from freezer when firm and gently pour chocolate on top (should be about 1/3 cup), shaking gently to spread out. The chocolate should not be hot though or it will melt the middle layer. Place back in freezer (again) until just barely set.
7. Before the chocolate is completely set, after 5-8 minutes, cut into bars. For Andes mint-size pieces, cut 8-10 slices down the length of the pan. Turn pan and cut into 4-5 slices, holding down wax paper if needed. Place back in freezer (yes, again) until completely firm, then break apart mints and enjoy. Store in refrigerator or freezer in an air-tight container.
|I can't cut straight lines. Very rustic.|
What the...what is that?
I purchase most of my pantry items through Vitacost. If you haven't discovered them, you can save quite a bit buying certain items online. (And if you're a new customer, you can save $10 off with my refer-a-friend link here.)
- Coconut butter: Aka coconut cream concentrate. Aka coconut manna. Coconut butter is the coconut meat in concentrated form. This is not the same as coconut cream which you get from the top of a refrigerated can of coconut milk. It is a food, not an oil, so you have to be gentle when heating it. Make coconut butter yourself by processing coconut flakes (see this post). See my recipes using coconut butter here. I like Artisana brand, but my favorite is Tropical Traditions. I use their flakes to make my own as well.
- Spirulina: A blue-green algae. Rich in chlorophyll, antioxidants, B complex vitamins, Vit E, selenium, iodine, and much more. Helps bind to toxic metals and expel them from your body. Make sure you buy from a trusted source. I purchase spirulina powder from Mountain Rose Herbs. I add it to smoothies when I make them, but it can be used as green dye as I did with this recipe.
- Green matcha powder: A green tea powder from Japan which can be used in recipes or as a tea. It's in so many things over there. Matcha ice cream. Matcha donuts. All so good too! Oh my gosh, I miss those donuts. If you're ever in Japan, go to Mister Donut! Not gluten-free, but so good. Oh, back to the matcha... It's rich in antioxidants and chlorophyll. Find it here.
Question: What's your favorite type of chocolate? I used to be a milk chocolate gal, but I'm all about the dark chocolate now.