Coconut Junior Mints

Junior Mints are my favorite candy.  Candy really isn’t my thing these days, as I find it too sweet, but when I was younger I loved junior mints!  I literally would go through a big box a week.  I popped them before cross country, track, and road races.  Maybe that’s why I ran so fast 🙂

I decided to revisit my favorite candy, although a homemade version that ditched the chemicals. These chocolate covered mints met my expectations and more!  Creamy, minty centers covered in scrumptious dark chocolate…basically everything I love in a candy!  
I have seen recipes for peppermint patties that call for cashews soaked overnight, then ground. I decided to use cashew butter to skip a few steps.  Using cashew butter instead of cashews makes the color of the filling tan and not white, but in my opinion, much creamier and richer.  Maple syrup, my sweetener of choice, makes these mints sweet, but not candy sickly sweet.  Grinding shredded coconut before adding the other ingredients allowed me to skip adding oil.  The shredded coconut releases oil when you grind it, therefore adding more oil was unnecessary.  
To coat the mint filling, I made my favorite dark chocolate.  It’s made using only three ingredients: coconut oil, cocao powder, and a natural liquid sweetener.  It is so rich, chocolaty, and easy to make!  This chocolate does have to be kept in the refrigerator because coconut oil starts to melt at around 78 F.  If you want to make these mints and be able to easily carry them around without worrying about them melting, just swap the homemade chocolate for melted chocolate chips or a chocolate bar.  

These coconut junior mints took me back to my childhood.  I can officially say I have found candy I love again 🙂  Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Coconut Junior Mints
vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free (makes roughly 64 1/2 inch mints)
For the filling:
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup cashew butter
1/4-1/2 tsp peppermint extract
3 Tbsp maple syrup (or agave)
For the chocolate coating:
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup (or agave)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp raw cocao powder (regular cocoa powder is fine)
3 Tbsp dark cocoa powder 
green and red food coloring
Note:  You can also melt chocolate chips or a chocolate bar to coat these mints.  
Directions:
1.  Process coconut in a food processor for 30 seconds.  Add cashew butter, maple syrup, and 1/4 tsp peppermint extract.  Process until consistency is smooth.  Taste the filling: if you like a stronger mint flavor, add additional peppermint extract 1/8 tsp at a time.
2.  (Optional step; if you want colored filling)  Form filling into two balls and place in two separate bowls.  Add green food coloring to one bowl and red to the other: mix well.  
3.  Roll filling into 1/2 inch balls.  Place on a wax paper lined pan.  Put in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up.
4. Melt the coconut oil and stir in maple syrup, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Dip each mint into the chocolate and put back on the pan.  When all the mints are coated, put in the freezer for another 5-10 minutes to harden.  Store in the refrigerator.
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