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For host gifts, homemade take on Almond Joy raises the bar

April 15, 2019

When I’m invited to share a special meal with friends, whether holiday feast or birthday party, I always bring something along. Sure, some hosts might ask me to contribute a dish, but others respond with, “Don’t bring a thing. I’ve got this.” I am unable, constitutionally, to appear on someone’s doorstep without something in my hand. It’s in these moments that I bring indulgences. Imported cheese and fancy crackers. Extravagant wine. Homemade candies.

Made with unsweetened coconut and plenty of hickory-smoked almonds, the Bring Joy Coconut Chocolate Candy is a modern twist on the beloved Almond Joy. As far as gifts go, with no baking and no chocolate tempering necessary, they are pantry-friendly and a breeze to pull together, even with only a couple of hours’ notice. On point for either Easter or Passover, they can be made up to two weeks in advance, too.

Unsweetened coconut is sold in airy, crunchy flakes — great in granola but a little large for candy. I used my high-speed blender to blitz the flakes into small bits, careful not to pulverize. Using the same blender, I chopped the smoked almonds into equally small bits. The almonds and coconut are bound with powdered sugar and sweetened condensed milk, then kneaded like bread dough until cohesive and stiff.

I used a small juice glass with a flat bottom to press the dough into the loaf pan, forming a solid block. The filling is chewy and dense, so it needs to be compacted. After chilling, the dough is much easier to cut into crisp-edged squares. If egg-shaped candies are your goal, use a two-tablespoon scoop to portion, then with slightly damp hands, form them before chilling.

Tempering chocolate can be challenging for even the most accomplished cooks. To keep this recipe as straightforward as possible, I added shortening (or butter) to melted chips to make a dipping sauce that sets up in the refrigerator. No thermometers needed. Working with half the chips at a time keeps the chocolate the correct texture for enrobing. It’s so darn pretty, you’ll be congratulating yourself.

Finely chopped nuts and flaky salt make for a chic, grown-up party treat, but sprinkles and edible glitter aren’t outside the realm of possibility. Making these candies is an afternoon’s distraction for young cooks, and decorating is the best part.

Recipe: Bring Joy Coconut Chocolate Candies