When I decided to be vegan, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. Most chocolate, for example, is not vegan. Correction: Most chocolate is vegan, but most chocolate candy is not vegan.
Not being much of a candy person, I was never really bothered by this. Whenever I have a chocolate craving, it’s for organic dark chocolate with dried fruit as the sweetener. But there’s an exception:
Easter bunnies. Maybe it’s because my kindergarten’s class bunny bit me the weekend before I was supposed to take him home. Maybe it’s because they remind me how it feels to finally get the prize at the end of the (egg) hunt. Or maybe it’s just because those pastel-painted baskets make everything look better.
There’s just something about those Easter bunnies.
Instead of going without this year, I decided to try making my own. I thought about just melting organic dark chocolate and pouring it into a mold, but that seemed too ordinary. These bunnies needed to be special. They were, after all, going to be a prize.
I decided to indulge my inner food scientist and see what would happen if I tried the “recipe” on the box of Hershey’s cocoa: Add shortening or oil to make baking chocolate. From there, I tweaked and substituted until I had a vegan, chocolate Easter bunny that’s just the right amount of sweet and just as creamy as milk chocolate (oh, and devoid of any artificial ingredients).
Did I mention it’s packed with coconut’s medium chain triglycerides, which lower cholesterol? And don’t forget the almond’s natural insulin-moderating abilities! This is one bunny you don’t have to feel guilty about afterwards.
Ingredients (makes about 2 bunnies):
- 1-2 T. coconut butter
- 1-2 T. almond oil (or any other liquid fat if you don’t have almond on hand)
- 3 T. cocoa powder, sifted
- 2-3 packets Stevia + a drizzle of pure maple syrup or agave nectar (i.e. sweetener to taste)
- For the bunny: 1 mini vegan marshmallow (or one small chunk coconut meat) and 1 small piece chopped strawberry
- Place a bunny shaped cookie cutter in a small (plastic) container or lid. You can use any material you have on hand but I find plastic makes it easier to remove the bunny once it’s set.
- In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the coconut butter over very low heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder and sweetener until evenly mixed. At this point, you should have a thick paste. Gradually add the oil, whisking until you have a smooth liquid. If you like your chocolate softer, add more oil and, if you like it harder, add less.
- Carefully pour the chocolate into the center of the cookie cutter. If you can, hold the cookie cutter in place to stop any chocolate from slipping out and leaving a puddle. If you do end up with a puddle, just remelt the chocolate and pour it in a different mold or eat it as is (instead of as a bunny).
- Place the container in the fridge until the chocolate is soft enough to press in to but hard enough to hold its shape if you lift the cookie cutter away. Stick a vegan marshmallow (or coconut chunk) into the tail side of the bunny, ripping a little piece off for the eye. Press a small strawberry chunk into the area where the nose should be. Carve the toes, ears and mouth with the tip of a toothpick.
- Bend the container a little and the chocolate should pop right off. Put the bunny back in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it. With equal proportions of almond oil and coconut butter, this is soft at room temperature. If you use a 1:4 ratio of almond oil to coconut butter, it’s rock solid at room temperature but much less creamy. Adjust according to taste.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be saving the tail for last.