A healthy remake of classic chocolate pecan turtle candies. Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. These little bites are sweet, chewy, chocolately, and utterly delicious!
Anyone who has a sweet tooth knows that when cravings strike, they’re hard to ignore. Even those of us who aren’t “addicted to sugar” won’t pass up a sweet treat every now and then. We can blame our yearning for sweet tasting foods on our early ancestors, who evolved to crave sugar because it was a good source of energy and protection from starvation. But the amounts and forms of sugar consumed back then were quite different than what’s readily available to us today, and this has led to over-consumption and, some would argue, contributed to the obesity crisis here in the U.S. So, what’s a sugar-loving person to do? In my opinion, the worst thing you can do is deprive yourself of sweets. Instead, look for ways to reduce your sugar consumption. Read nutrition labels carefully, and as much as possible, steer clear of foods with added sugars, especially refined and artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and aspartame. And, when reaching for treats and desserts, choose ones sweetened naturally, without processed/refined ingredients. These Vegan Chocolate Turtle Bites fit the bill. They’re free of gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and are also vegan. Candy doesn’t get much healthier than this!
Vegan Chocolate Turtle Bites have a little bit of maple syrup in the chocolate topping but they’re sweetened primarily with dates, considered one of The Top 5 Natural Sweeteners. Using dates as a sweetener (in moderation) is almost always preferable to consuming refined sugars, which can cause more rapid spikes in blood sugar, and, over time, lead to a myriad of health issues. Artificial sweeteners are gentler on your blood sugar, but they carry their other harmful side effects, so be wary. Most of us recognize natural sweeteners as listed on nutrition labels (i.e. honey, cane juice, sugar), but artificial sweeteners often seem disguised by their name (i.e. maltitol, erythritol, calcium cyclamate). Check out this comprehensive list of all the different names for artificial sweeteners and avoid them whenever possible.
You need a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix to make Vegan Chocolate Turtle Bites. Unfortunately, a regular blender or food processor won’t be powerful enough to fully break down the dates and turn them into a smooth, sticky dough. You’ll also need a standard 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. The chocolate topping comes together quickly but because it’s made with coconut oil you have to store these candies in the refrigerator after their made. If left out at room temperature the chocolate topping won’t have the correct consistency and may even melt if the ambient temperature is warm enough.
For other healthy-ish candy recipes check out: Dairy Free Crispy Chocolate Cups, Gluten Free Raspberry Fudge Flowers, and mr. Good(for you)bar – peanuts in healthier chocolate.
If you make Vegan Chocolate Turtle Bites don’t forget to snap a pic and tag me over on Instagram @QueenofMyKitchen. I’d love to see your creation!
Vegan Chocolate Turtle Bites
- 1¾ cups (220 grams/7.8 ounces) pitted dates
- ¾ cup (120 grams/4.3 ounces) dry roasted, unsalted peanuts
- ½ cup (60 grams/2.1 ounces) ground flaxseed
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup cacao powder
- 24 pecan halves, lightly toasted
- Line a standard 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, overhanging on the long sides.
- Process the base ingredients in a Vitamix (or other high-powered blender/food processor) using the tamper tool until a smooth, sticky dough forms. Press the dough evenly into the loaf pan.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut oil along with the maple syrup, and vanilla. Once the oil is completely melted remove it from the heat and whisk in the cacao powder until smooth. Pour over the base and arrange the pecans on top in three rows of 8 pecans each.
- Cover and refrigerate until the chocolate is solid, at least 3 hours. Remove from the pan and cut into 24 squares.
- Store in the refrigerator.
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