cranberry-pistachio icebox cookies

DSC_0720 edit

Ok, now that you’ve endured weeks of healthful meals from me, I thought I would reward you with some cookies.

These crumbly sables combine salty pistachios and tart cranberries which just happen to pair perfectly with the sweet, buttery cookies. Oh, and then I rolled them in big chunks of decorative sugar for some sparkle and crunch. Because who doesn’t love sparkles – especially when you can eat them and be sparkly on the inside! (It IS what’s inside that counts, right?)

I first made these cookies around the holidays and tucked them away into the freezer so they would be ready for when the holidays rolled around.  I had every intention of sending them out with my Christmas cookies but there were… technical difficulties.

Mostly that I ate them.

And while, yes, the red berries and pale green pistachios were super cute when I first made these for Christmas cookies, no one will complain about consuming them during a non-Christmas time of year.  Not to mention they are ice-box cookies, which means even if you make them around the holidays and stuff them (tightly-wrapped) in the freezer, they will still be every bit as delicious once July rolls around… :)

cranberry pistachio cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 38 minutes

Yield: Appx 24 cookies

Ingredients

    For the cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • For baking
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup decorative sugar (preferably coarse)

Instructions

    Make the cookies
  1. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and orange zest at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add flour mixture in 2 batches and mix on low, just until the dough comes together in clumps, then add pistachios and cranberries. Mix just a few moments longer to combine.
  3. Pour dough onto a lightly-floured surface and press together into a single mass. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, then form each half of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours. (Or you can freeze the logs until you are ready to bake them)
  4. Bake the cookies
  5. If from frozen, let cookies set out about 30 minutes. If from refrigerated, no need to let them sit.
  6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F. If baking both sheets at once, put racks in upper and lower third of oven, if only baking one at a time you can leave the rack in the middle.
  7. Beat the egg and pour sugar into a shallow dish long enough to roll the log in (I used a paper plate).
  8. Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends) and press bars into sugar, coating well.
  9. Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (It may be crumbly, just smoosh the cookies back together).
  10. Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets and bake until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total.

Notes

Recipe source: Gourmet, December 2006

http://wee-eats.com/2014/07/09/cranberry-pistachio-icebox-cookies/

 cranberry pistachio icebox cookies | wee-eats.com

thursday things – life after whole30, new kitchen gadgets, and a 4th of july recipe round-up

I DID IT! I SURVIVED THE WHOLE 30!

From now on my desserts will look like these “croNOTS” - made from donut-shaped apple slices and healthy toppings like almond butter and yogurt!

Just kidding.

W30 was fun, and I learned some things about myself and the food I eat, but I’m happy to be able to say ‘yes’ again to things like quinoa, and rice, and peanut butter, and cake.

And these:

reeses oreo pkg

Much to everyone’s surprise (especially my own) I haven’t actually had either chocolate OR peanut butter since I finished the diet, which means I’ve officially achieved a lifetime record of going over one month without either of them!

I haven’t cracked these beauties open yet because I’m afraid that, after all that healthy crap I’ve been eating, they will just taste like pure sugar and chemicals… So I’ve decided to give my taste-buds a week or two to adjust to the real world before I break them open.

After that, MURDER.  May god have mercy on their delicious cookie souls.

Fruit season is upon us and since we’ve been demolishing fruit like its nobody’s business (FH has a serious rainier cherry addiction, if they didn’t have such a short season I may be more concerned). We decided to enhance the speed at which we can inhale our sweet treats by making two new friends: Professor Hullsworth and his less distinguished counterpart Pitts (he likes to pit cherries).

gadgets

I’m more of a minimalist really so for the past few years I’ve been convincing myself that these were unnecessary kitchen items and a waste of money. After about a week of owning them I am happy to say that they may actually be my two favorite kitchen gadgets. Maybe I really DO need that apple-corer after all…

Meanwhile on the internet…

This guy totally wasted his free pet owl by throwing it outside.

Wit and Vinegar made the donuts of my dreams

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Eater began its own cookbook review column ….

We uncovered the truth about cookie butter

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TheKitchn introduced us to the future of food packaging …

Japan again shows us that they are superior in every way by creating a penguin GPS app

And my froyo dreams are finally coming true with the creation of an automatic froyo dispenser (with an awesome f*cking name – THE FROBOT!). At the low, low price of 30K I don’t know how I can NOT invest in one, really…

Finally, with our country’s day of independence just around the corner, who would I be to rob you of a RECIPE ROUNDUP?

4th of July Recipe Round-up

Appetizers

Halloumi cheese bites from A Periodic Table (via Feast Magazine)

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These itty bitty cute caprese bites (add more bits of tomato and cheese and turn them into caprese skewers!)

Pass the Sushi‘s Huli-Huli bacon chicken bites

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Herbed cream-cheese avocado canapes from Natasha’s Kitchen

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Mains

Emma Magazine’s BBQ Meatball Sandwiches with Peach Slaw

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SkinnyTaste’s BBQ shrimp skewers

Quick-Grilled-BBQ-Shrimp-Recipe

 Grilled garlic-basil chicken breasts from yours truly

Slow cooker pulled pork from Kitchen Mason 

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Pioneer Woman’s oven-barbecued chicken

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Or give these 5-chili turkey burgers a try

Sides

Movita Beacoup‘s potato salad

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Herbed quinoa garden salad from Pinch of Yum

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Foolproof Living’s watermelon, avocado, and mint salad with feta

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Fresh sweet corn salad from Our Best Bites

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Desserts

How about a super easy s’mores icebox cake?

Or, if you’re feeling extra motivated, you can make this American Flag Cake from Food52

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Or, slightly less taxing, are these roasted berry napoleons from My Baking Addiction

roastedberrynapoleons

How about these delectable peanut butter s’mores bars from Just a Taste?

oven-smores-bar-recipe

Drinks

Bomb Pop Shots from A Beautiful Mess

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These super easy watermelon margaritas from yours truly

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This refreshing (alcohol-free) strawberry-basil soda from Striped Spatula

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watermelon margarita

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This margarita was not supposed to be here today.

This margarita was supposed to be a different kind of margarita instead.

And then it was supposed to be a cake, but that’s another story for another day.

Today’s story is about my quest to make you a delightfully southwestern margarita full of prickly pear juice and limes and tequila.

Unfortunately, both prickly pears (also known as “cactus pears”) and limes were in short supply in my neighborhood.   Which is funny because I distinctly remember almost buying a bunch of them last week, but not knowing what I would do with them so deciding against it. As luck would have it, now that I wanted to use them, they were nowhere in sight.

I searched my store high and low for those same prickly pears that were piled high just last week and finally found two hiding underneath some mini bananas. I quickly grabbed them up and immediately regretted my decision.

To say they were “over-ripe” would be an understatement. They basically turned to mush in my hands. Those poor two prickly pears had probably been hiding under those bananas for weeks, months, or maybe even years… thinking they were safe… until I came along.

Ok, so maybe not years. But definitely for awhile. It probably doesn’t help that bananas tend to help things ripen. Did you know that? It’s a very helpful factoid when you are stuck with an underripe avocado and a craving for guacalmole.

Would you like to know another helpful factoid? Prickly pears are prickly, and not just in the way you might think.

Prickly_pear_cactus_beed

Stores often remove the fruit’s larger spines to help save their poor customers’ hands. What they do not always remove, however, are the super tiny, almost invisible, hairlike spines that grow on them as a secondary defense.

At least, my store doesn’t… So after I set down my prickly pear mush, I discovered that my hands were now covered in tiny, almost invisible, cactus needles.  My poor poor hands.

Have you ever tried grocery shopping or driving a car with thousands* of needles poking into your hand? It’s rather difficult.

*Ok, so maybe it was more like ten…

I grabbed the tweezers when I got home and immediately began my emergency surgery. Time spent holding prickly pears: approximately 6 seconds. Time spent looking for and removing tiny cacti needles out of my had: approximately 26 minutes.

Lesson learned – always wear gloves when touching cacti-related objects.  No matter how safe they look.

You know what’s not prickly? Watermelons.

watermelon margarita 3

Watermelons are quite smooth, actually.  In fact, watermelons may be one of the least prickly things on the planet.

I’m not sure if there have been scientific studies or not to back this up, but if there were I’m pretty sure they would uphold my hypothesis.

Unfortunately, watermelons are also not prickly pears.  They do, however, have a similar flavor profile. While I would say prickly pears are a bit sweeter than watermelons, Shannon aptly described them as, “A prickly pear is like if a watermelon and some bubble gum had a baby.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So, this Cinco de Mayo, I give to you a not-prickly-pear margarita. No gloves or tweezers necessary. Limes, however, are necessary. You do not want to be out running around to four different stores at the last minute because you realize that you are a big dummy and you forgot to get limes.

If you need more ideas for you Cinco de Mayo fiesta, you can check out this roundup.

watermelon margarita

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 6 minutes

Yield: 3 Margaritas

Serving Size: 8 oz

Ingredients

  • 1 cup watermelon, cubed
  • 1/4 cup tequila (I use Sauza blanco)
  • 2 Tablespoons simple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cointreau
  • 1 lime, sliced (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Process watermelon in a blender until liquified. Strain if necessary to remove any seeds.
  2. In a large cup or shaker, combine watermelon puree, tequila, cointreau, simple syrup, and juice of one lime. Shake or stir with ice to combine.
  3. Strain into ice-filled glass and garnish with lime slice to serve.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/05/03/watermelon-margarita/

watermelon margarita - wee-eats.com

 

thursday things – easter is coming and other things

Here’s what you’ve missed over the last week

This guy who failed at Wheel of Fortune. He has ALL THE LUCK but unfortunately zero brains…

These tiny humans who make me want to make my own tiny human fight club which I assume would be judged by various levels of round-house-hug-attacks and “my-noggin-is-too-heavy-and- I’m-going-to-fall-over” combo moves.

And more adorableness in the secret (adorable) life of snails!macro-photography-snails-vyacheslav-mishchenko-2

Oh, and a tip about zesting citrus.  Let’s get something food-related in here, I guess.

And of course, since Easter is this weekend, a round-up is in order!

My Easter tends to be CARBS-CARBS-CARBS-CANDY-CARBS-HAM.

Easter 2014 Recipe Round Up

The Easter Eggs

Emma Magazine’s DIY Easter Egg Dye

The Carbs

This gorgeous tsoureki from A Periodic Table

Life Tastes Good’s tomato and scallion cream cheese bagel bombs

A super easy dutch baby from yours truly

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Playing with Flour’s sweet or savory crepes 

Blueberry waffles from Some Kitchen Stories

East of Eden’s almond breakfast rolls

The Desserts

Cream cheese and blueberry galette from Wit & Vinegar

Serena Bake’s lemon-lime pound cake

Movita’s Easter cake with swiss meringue buttercream

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Or some orange honey pound cake from Evil Shenanigans

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Oh, and let’s not forget these beauties

peanut butter egg 1291

The Drinks

Spoon Fork Bacon’s blood orange mimosas

This bellini bar from How Sweet It Is

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Jellybean martinis from Wee Eats

jellybean martini

Blueberry-almond butter smoothies from Love & Olive Oil

Kitchen Simplicity’s family-friendly (aka: alcohol-free) sangria

The Rest

Savory Simple’s Boursin deviled eggs

Mini mediterranean frittatas  from FoodieCrush

Bacon and potato quiche from Foodness Gracious

Crunchy Creamy Sweet’s breakfast skillet casserole 

Kale, apple, and pancetta salad from Elephant Eats

This gorgeous glazed ham from Simply Recipes

 

 

 

DIY Peanut Butter Eggs

peanut butter egg 1291

If you live on planet Earth and have heard of Easter, you have probably encountered at least one Reese’s peanut butter egg in your life.  And, if you had consumed said egg, then you know it’s the best candy known to mankind.

Of course, as a die-hard chocolate/peanut butter fan (and a lifelong Reese’s egg eater) it was only a matter of time before I had to recreate these godly treats in my own kitchen.

reeses egg ecard

What I didn’t realize when I set out to make these how much effort I would end up putting into them.

First off, since I am a lover of dark chocolate while Future Husband loves milk chocolate (which is the more authentically “Reese’s” one to use anyway), I already knew that I had to make at least two versions.

Since I was already making two versions, I decided to go a step further than just changing out the type of chocolate used and decided to try a hard-shelled version and a milk chocolate soft-shelled (more Reese’s-like) version.

peanut butter egg 3851

Normally a hard-shelled chocolate requires two things 1> a chocolate mold (check!) and 2> tempering chocolate (not-check).

Since we’ve already discussed how much I loathe chopping chocolate, you can probably deduce that I also have no patience for tempering chocolate. This meant that the chocolate I got had to be low-maintenance chocolate. No chopping or tempering required.

Enter – these beautiful little guys. “No tempering” you say? I’m listening…

And did you notice how adorable and tiny they are? Already optimized for melting.

chocolate 3792

Translation: NO. CHOPPING. REQUIRED.

Sold.

So, with just the use of my egg-shaped mold and no special tempering or chopping, my molded eggs came out shiny with a crisp snap while my dipped eggs came out perfectly soft and chewy.

Success!

peanut butter egg 3796

Now that my chocolate problem was solved, it was onto the filling.

Most of the recipes you see for Reese’s-type treats will put you somewhere between one and ten thousand pounds* of powdered sugar.  Now it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that adding copious amounts of powdered sugar to a recipe will make your filling cloyingly sweet.

(*That may or may not be a slight exaggeration.)

We want our filling to taste like peanut butter, right? Not like powdered sugar. So clearly there was some work to be done.

This was easy with the hard eggs, since the mold held the filling it didn’t have to be particularly sturdy.

However, since we were dipping our soft-shelled eggs, we required a sturdier filling. One that we could mold in our hands without it either melting or falling apart. As easy as this seems, despite my best efforts, I could not get my original filling to be able to be molded by hand.

And I tried hard, like, really hard.

After stirring in several extra pounds of powdered sugar, I decided to attribute this failure to my use of coconut oil in my original filling, as it is the only major difference between the two fillings that I made.  And while my kitchen is a bit warmer than your average kitchen, even the freezer was no help. Once my frozen peanut buttery goodness touched the luke-warm melted chocolate it turned to goo.

So we needed to thicken our mixture, but not add a ton of sweetness to it… Enter: powdered peanut butter (or “peanut flour”). While this helped to both a> keep my filling peanut-buttery and delicious without adding sweetness and b> thicken my filling, it did not thicken it enough for me to mold.

So, back to the drawing board.

peanut butter egg 3839

I solved this issue by swapping my coconut oil for butter (sorry, arteries!) and added a tad bit more powdered sugar than I would generally prefer, but balanced it with a generous scoop of peanut butter powder and a pinch of salt. The result was surprisingly close to what the inside of an actual Reese’s egg tastes like. Combined with the soft milk chocolate coating, I’m pretty sure I hit the nail on the head. Or at least darn close to it.

And then, just for fun, I did a caramel-filled one. I used this pre-made caramel filling which could be pressed into the egg mold or rolled into an egg shape and … done!

Easy peasy.

I even made some with peanut butter AND caramel inside because I was feeling a little crazy. You, of course, can fill your eggs with whatever you like!

peanut butter egg 1242

 

Reese

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 to 12 eggs, depending on siz

Serving Size: 1 egg

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 to 12 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter flour (I used PB2 powdered peanut butter)
  • 8 to 10 ounces chocolate coating (I used Chocoley's Bada Bing Dipping & Coating Chocolate)

Instructions

    Make the filling:
  1. Place peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 50% power for 30 seconds and stir.
  2. Continue heating in additional 15 second intervals until butter is completely melted and stir the mixture until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Stir in the salt until incorporated. Stir in peanut butter flour and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until incorporated.
  4. Stir in additional powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture stiffens almost akin to play-dough consistency.
  5. Cover bowl and place in fridge to cool, about 1 hour.
  6. Shape the filling
  7. Once cooled, scoop into a scant tablespoon-sized ball and roll into a ball.
  8. Place the ball in the palm of your hand and pat into an egg-like shape.
  9. Place onto a parchment-lined plate or baking sheet and continue with the rest of the peanut butter mixture.
  10. Cover peanut butter eggs and place in refrigerator or freezer until chilled, 15 to 20 minutes.
  11. Make the eggs
  12. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave. - I melted my chocolate at 50% power in the microwave and stirred, then continued melting at 10 second increments until it was mostly (85%) melted, then stirred to complete the melting process.
  13. Remove peanut butter eggs from freezer and working one egg at a time, quickly but gently drop the egg top-down into the chocolate, then flip to coat the bottom and lift out of the chocolate. Give it a couple gentle shakes to allow extra chocolate to drip off, then place chocolate-covered egg on parchment to dry. Use the back of a spoon or a butter knife to encourage your egg to jump onto the parchment.
  14. Repeat with remaining eggs until complete.

Notes

* Eggs can be made larger or smaller as desired, I got 10 out of mine.

* If your peanut butter is softening, return to fridge to chill and re-melt chocolate to try again.

* If you aren't a fan of the "dunk and flip" method, you can also dip the bottom of the egg into the chocolate, lift it out, and then spoon additional chocolate over the top of the egg to cover. Give it a gentle shake to distribute the chocolate and shake off the excess.

* My chocolate-dipping "tools" usually consist of a plastic fork with the middle two tines removed, and a plastic spoon. I know I'm killing the environment but it beats cleaning chocolate off of my cutlery.

* Although I've seen PB2 all around lately (even at Target!), if you can't find it I have seen peanut flour at Trader Joe's or you could use finely ground almond flour. I've also heard wonderful things about the thickening power of coconut flour, but have yet to purchase any.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/15/diy-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs/

Hard-shelled Peanut Butter Eggs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 10 2-inch eggs

Serving Size: 1 egg

Ingredients

Instructions

    Make the filling:
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt peanut butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar on 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until mixture is combined.
  2. Stir in peanut butter powder followed by powdered sugar. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or until chilled.
  3. Make the shell
  4. Prepare a sheet pan (or just cover part of your counter) with a sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Meanwhile, make your chocolate shells. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or at 50% power until chocolate is 85% melted; stirring every 15 seconds or so. Once chocolate is mostly (about 85%) melted, removed from heat and continue stirring until completely melted.
  6. Fill molds about 2/3 full with chocolate, then rotate and gently shake the molds to run the chocolate up the sides. Once completely covered, turn mold upside down over parchment paper and shake to remove excess chocolate from mold. Use an offset spatula or bench scraper to remove excess chocolate from the mold exterior.
  7. Set aside to firm up, about 20 minutes, which should be right about the time your peanut butter filling is ready.
  8. Fill the eggs
  9. Pipe or spoon peanut butter filling into your egg molds, making sure to leave at least a couple millimeters at the top. If you fill your molds with too much peanut butter, the chocolate bottom will not be able to cover the peanut butter completely. Continue with the remaining shells until complete.
  10. Put their tops (or bottoms) on
  11. Gather the (now hardened) chocolate pieces from your parchment and return them to the bowl with your remaining chocolate. Gently re-melt the chocolate.
  12. Using either a pastry bag (or ziploc bag) or a spoon, pour melted chocolate in a thick zig-zag over the exposed peanut butter of each egg.
  13. Gently tilt and shake the egg mold to distribute the chocolate until it completely covers the peanut butter, using extra chocolate if needed.
  14. Tap chocolate mold on counter a few times to release any bubbles, and using an offset spatula or bench scraper remove excess chocolate from the mold.
  15. Set aside to cool and harden, you may speed this process up by placing the mold in the refrigerator if desired.
  16. Release the eggs!
  17. Once hardened, give your mold a good whack on the counter over your parchment paper with the open side down. Don't be shy here, this mold is the only thing standing between you and your chocolate eggs... so you give it what it deserves!
  18. Continue whacking the egg mold firmly against the counter like a lunatic until some eggs release. Remove those eggs to a safe place (like your mouth) and continue whacking the mold against the counter until all eggs have been released.
  19. Reward yourself with a peanut butter egg, you worked hard and you deserve it.
  20. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (assuming your home is cool) or in the refrigerator.

Notes

* Don't chill your eggs between adding the peanut butter and the last bit of chocolate or the chilled peanut butter will harden the chocolate before you have a chance to spread it around.

* I'm not sure if re-melting chocolate works with all chocolate or just happened to work out for me because mine was made for such a thing... Maybe someone more experienced than I am in chocolate would be able to answer that.

* Although I've seen PB2 all around lately (even at Target!), if you can't find it I have seen peanut flour at Trader Joe's or you could use finely ground almond flour. I've also heard wonderful things about the thickening power of coconut flour, but have yet to purchase any.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/15/diy-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs/

[ Disclaimer: I did receive chocolate to try from Chocoley but I was in no way required to review or recommend their products to you. However, I am going to recommend their chocolate anyway because a> I loved working with it, it tastes great, it's reasonably-priced, and they will send you FREE SAMPLES. WHO DOES THAT?  As always, opinions expressed on wee-eats are honest and my own because it's my blog and that's how I roll.]

DIY Reese's Eggs | wee-eats.com

UPDATE: Per some requests I thought it would be helpful to include a list of the items I used for these recipes: