Dec 4, 2013

Three Blind Mice Never Tasted So Good

There are many things that I dislike about winter, which is why I choose to look at the positives as opposed to hiding under my bed for multiple months, waiting for it to go away. While the utter lack of humidity leads to my hair doing an impression of a hedgehog due to static, the same lack of heat and humidity make it the perfect weather to start making chocolates again!

A friend of mine recently bought a house, and after I was lusting over the size and counter space of her kitchen, invited me over to help break it in.  She and I had originally taken a truffle class together, but where I obsessively proceeded on to make all sorts of different candies, she was happy to just go home and eat her candy. When I asked what she wanted to make in this new kitchen, she said that she wanted something with chocolate.

I think that chocolate mice are probably the least exacting type of candy that I've made. When I went poking around online to see if it were possible to make something like Mounds or Almond Joy, I came across directions that essentially said to mix corn syrup with coconut until you have about the right texture.  Cool, shape, and coat in chocolate. Conveniently, that is, in fact, about all there is to it. But, as I'm really bad about staying short winded, there's a whole lot more below.

Before we talk about ingredients, I just want to say a word about corn syrup. If you have never made candy, but have all of the talk about high fructose corn syrup, you may balk at any recipe that uses corn syrup (although High Fructose Corn Syrup and what is in the baking aisle are actually different). What's insidious about high fructose corn syrup isn't actually the ingredient on its own.  It's the fact that it's in everything, so that "moderation" that the corn refiners ads talk about gets really difficult really fast. Start checking labels.  Things that you would never expect to have sugar in them have high fructose corn syrup, like bread. In candy, corn syrup helps to keep crystals small, and helps to keep things chewy.  So it is highly advisable to not just omit it.  Also, remember, we're making candy.  We already know it's not healthy.  My advice, enjoy the treat for what it is, and keep portion sizes reasonable.  If you're still concerned about the difference, check out this article.


  • Shredded Coconut
  • Corn Syrup
  • Chocolate or Candy Melts (dark or milk, your choice, but don't use chocolate chips.  They contain anti-melting agents that will just make your life harder.)
  • Optional: almonds (or anything else that you think will taste good with coconut).

Prepare the Chocolate

In this application, the chocolate will be used as a coating over the coconut, so we need to melt it. If you have never worked with chocolate, there are two very important things to know. First, chocolate is actually very sensitive to heat. It has many different crystal states within a pretty small range.  What does that mean? If you have ever had a candy bar that has melted and re-solidified, you have experienced this.  It won't have a nice snap to the chocolate, it will melt at a lower temperature, it won't be shiny.  Just generally not as pretty.  In chocolate terms, it's out of temper.  The good news is, if you are working with a good solid block of chocolate that is already in temper, it's not that hard to keep it that way.

Secondly, water and chocolate are not friends.  They are anti-friends.  Even a tiny bit of water in melted chocolate will cause it to seize, and then you can't use it for dipping your mice.

Some people will advocate using the microwave to melt chocolate.  This can work, but I've not had much success with it.  I have the bad habit of over heating the chocolate.  So I prefer to do things the old fashioned way.

If you decide to use candy melts, there is no need to chop your chocolate. I find the flavor isn't quite as good as with real chocolate, but I will admit that they are a lot easier to use, and there is no risk or seizing.

If, instead, you are using a large bar of chocolate, get out a good solid knife to chop it down. Why?  Because as I said above, chocolate is sensitive to heat.  I want to use as little heat/time as possible to get it all melted evenly.  Smaller pieces, that have a high surface area, will melt faster.  The general goal is to get the chocolate into nice, tiny pieces that are all about the same size.

I melt my chocolate at home by putting it into a metal bowl, and putting that bowl on top of a small pot with a couple of inches of water in it.  In this case, my friend had a Pyrex bowl that would also withstand the heat, so we just used that.  Put the bowl of chocolate on top of the pan before turning on the heat.  Steam= water, and if any gets into your chocolate, that can leave you very sad with a bowl full of seized chocolate that will never be used for dipping, and little naked coconut mice.

Heat the chocolate slowly over low heat, stirring often, and turning off the heat periodically if the water in the underlying pot reaches a simmer.  The chocolate will be heated by the water under it, not by the stove.  You only need to get it to about 70 degrees Farenheit, so there's no need to rush it.

The Coconut Mixture

After trying the method referred to above, I realized that yes, there's very little actual measuring involved.  In this application, about half a bag of coconut made give or take 20 mice.  So I use the amount of coconut to approximate the number I want to make, and will mix in the corn syrup accordingly. Mix in small amounts at a time until the mixture will stick together well enough to work with.  To test it, grab a small ball from the bowl and squeeze it into a ball.  If it sticks, and isn't sprouting little coconut hairs, you are good to go.  At this point, if you just want to make little candy bars, shape them, dip them in chocolate, let them set, and you're done.  Personally, I think the mice are kind of cute.

I have a scoop that I use for this next part, for the sake of making mice that are about the same size.  But a spoon will work just about as well. Start scooping out little balls of coconut, and roll them between your hands to get it nice and compact.  This step can be very sticky, so I will often rinse my hands in cold water to help keep the coconut from sticking.

Each mouse will take 1.5 balls of mixture, so make several balls as bodies, and then half as many balls of the same size for the heads.  The balls that are made for heads, cut in half and roll them into little cones, using your hands.  To add the ears, I will take a dab of melted chocolate, and add it to one end of the body.  Take two slivered almonds that are about the same time, and use the chocolate as glue between the head and the body.  Chill the mice in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or so, making sure that there is no residual water on the bodies (I usually will do the mice in batches, so that by the time I have finished the last bodies, the first ones to go in are ready for dipping).


Now that the bodies are chilled and the chocolate is melted, it's time to start dipping.  Take a mouse, put it into the chocolate, coating completely, then remove (a fork works just fine here), letting excess chocolate drip off.  then place on parchment paper or a silicone mat to set. The cleaner this step is, the better, but you can also just trim some extra chocolate off the edges once it's hardened.  As you can see from the photos, I'm definitely neither a professional nor perfect!

If you don't want blind mice, you can use icing, or candy googly eyes, or anything else I haven't thought of.  In my experience, they don't tend to last long enough for anyone to notice.

Most importantly, have fun. You can always eat mistakes, and cleanup can be a tasty job too! Don't forget to lick the bowl!


Financial Outlay: Under $10 for over 20 mice, each about 2 inches long
Time: About 1 Hour
Quality: Tasty!  The visual beauty may vary depending on your skill with chocolate, but these are handcrafted!  If you got one at a candy store, it would probably be at least $2 each. Also, people tend to be really impressed when the notice that it's a chocolate mouse as opposed to just a blob of a candy bar.
Fun: I like doing these. The recipe is easily scale-able, the coconut mixture is kind of like a really crumbly clay, it's tasty, and can be done with multiple people who may not have much kitchen experience.

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