The Charmed Garden

From Planning to Planting, and from Harvest to Table.

Better than Chicken Noodle Soup

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Hello Everyone – Well we caught it. All but one of us got the nasty flu that has crept into every state in our union. My husband John was the only one to get a flu shot and the only one who hasn’t caught the flu.

After 2 weeks of soup, juice, Propolis, Mucinex and Nyquil, I thought my guys deserved some TLC in the form of chocolate. I made an assortment of chocolate candies using their favorite add-ons.

This is a very simple, easy recipe for a semi-sweet chocolate candies. If you’re a baker, you probably already have some of the ingredients, if not all. There is no milk, butter, or granulated sugar added.  So, they’re almost guilt free. 🙂


 First – Choose your chocolate

Because you’re not adding any butter, milk or extra sugar, choose really good quality chocolate, as pure as you can find.  You can soften the bitterness of the really dark chocolate by adding semi-sweet chocolate chips until you get the flavor that suits you.

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Second  – Choose your add-ins.

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The sweetness of these add-ins pair perfectly with the bite of the dark chocolate.

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Hazelnuts, Pecans and Walnuts work best with the sweeter chocolate. 

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The coconut on the left is sweetened and the one on the right is unsweetened.

For my husband, I added chopped Andes Candies and candy cane. He does not like dark chocolate very much, but he does love mint.

Third – Melt your Chocolate and prep your add-ins.

Melt your chocolate in a microwave proof bowl for just one minute.  You don’t want your chocolate melted all the way because if you cook it too long you will ruin it, and it is easy to quickly burn your chocolate.  It will finish melting as you stir it.   I found that the dark chocolate melts faster than the semi-sweet.

To prep your add-ins, simply chop your dried fruit and nuts, or any other candy bits you’re adding, like the candy canes. I toasted my walnuts and hazelnuts, because it brings out their natural oil intensifying their flavor. Toast them in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Let them cool before adding them. 

Fourth – Mix, Scoop and Freeze.

Let your bowl of gorgeous liquid chocolate that you have slaved over cool before adding your goodies, or some of the goodies will melt, like the Andes Candies.  Your chocolate will be runny, of course, so you want to add enough goodies to your chocolate to make it somewhat lumpy, so you can scoop it on your spoon and put it on your tray without it running all over. Put the candies on a cookie sheet or tray that you’ve lined with parchment paper. Once it’s full, put it in your fridge or freezer. Yesterday it was cold enough to put the trays outside.

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Here’s what I made –  – –

– – – the darkest of the chocolates with toasted hazelnuts and dried cherries

– – –  the 85% dark chocolate with chopped crystallized ginger.

– – – the semi-sweet with the special dark chips and the Andes Candies and crushed candy canes

– – – the 70% dark chocolate with toasted walnuts

– – – the 70% dark chocolate with semi=sweet chips and unsweetened coconut

– – – the special dark chips with Reese’s peanut butter chips for the boys – because they’re absolutely nuts (pun intended) for peanut butter and chocolate.

Something for everyone!!!

Author: Laurine M. Byrne

I received my certification as a Landscape Designer from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and I received my horticulture education through classes at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois and through the master gardener program at Univ of Illinois Extension. In my designs, I love mixing veggies and herbs with native perennials and flowering bushes as you can see from the pictures of my own yard. I love creating gardens for people who like to garden, not just installing traditional landscaping, but actually creating gardens that the homeowner connects to personally. I love that my clients who thought they couldn't grow anything now have green thumbs, because all it takes is the right plant in the right site. And I really love that my clients become my friends in the process of creating their gardens.

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