Lightly sweetened coconut smothered in a dairy-free dark chocolate shell, these healthy vegan copycat Mounds bars only use SIX real food ingredients and no refined sugar! Mood-boosting and antioxidant-rich raw cacao and gut healthy coconut make these bars the perfect treat to eat straight from the freezer, plus they’re paleo, and gluten free.
When a recipe only contains six ingredients and two of them are coconut and chocolate (and it looks like THAT up THERE), you know it’s going to be good.
Especially when said recipe is vegan, raw, refined sugar free, gluten free, and paleo. I mean, did I cover all the bases here or what?
Not only is this a super short and sweet recipe (literally), it’s also a super short and sweet post because we’ve been hosting my parents, who were in town visiting from South Carolina since last Sunday. Considering that we live on opposite sides of the country, we don’t get to see each other very often and I’ve been trying to soak up every second with them possible during their brief stay.
Normally I try to work ahead for the blog so that I, too, can have a mini vacation and enjoy some leisure time (something I am desperately trying to cultivate more). And while I did have to do a little work during their visit, no one minded. Not one bit.
Because said work involved taste testing this healthy vegan copycat Mounds bar recipe. I really just wanted them to understand THE STRUGGLE that comes with being a nutrition and healthy food blogger/recipe developer. Making sure the raw dark chocolate is sweet enough? Or that the coconut filling the right texture? Seriously hard you guys. 😉
It also worked out perfectly seeing as how my candy bar loving Dad—who was also the source of last’s week healthier take on breaded chicken using Simple Mills almond flour crackers in a paleo cracker-crusted chicken with garlicky lemon zucchini noodles—inspired this recipe for healthy vegan copycat Mounds bars.
I’ve been wanting to try remaking a healthier candy bar and their visit gave me the perfect excuse. My Dad has doesn’t eat a ton of candy, but Mounds bars have always been a favorite.
And for the record, I can’t say that I blame him. Coconut and dark chocolate does make a pretty irresistible combination.
Unfortunately, as I’m sure you all know, the regular Hershey’s candy bar version is filled with artificial junk, refined sugar, and questionably sourced and low quality “dark” chocolate (i.e. definitely not fair trade). I mean, hello, the first ingredient on the label? Corn syrup. YUM.
Even if my Dad only has one or two of the bite-sized chocolate covered coconut treats a few times a week, it’d be a lot better for him if he had a go-to version that was made from real, unprocessed ingredients that are actually nutritious. Clearly I’m not saying that eating candy bars—even healthified ones—is a good common practice, rather that if you are going to indulge or need a little something sweet on the regular, the more often you can choose or make a more healthful option, the better!
So being that it was Father’s Day weekend and my Dad was generously going to spend most of his visit with us tackling a few home organization projects for us, I knew I wanted to recreate his favorite candy bar while he was here.
Plus, I knew that having him weigh in on the recipe would be the ultimate taste test. Because while I might love coconut and dark chocolate as much as anyone, I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate a Mounds bar (and I wasn’t about to solely for the sake of comparison!).
HOW THEY’RE HEALTHIER
These homemade Mounds bars are much healthier because they contain high quality raw organic cacao powder, which as you know is one of the richest sources of antioxidants on the planet.
It contains resveratrol (the same potent antioxidant that gives red wine it’s health benefits) and is full of flavonoids that help repair cellular damage. Cacao powder has been shown to help boost mood and may even have some aphrodisiac qualities. I always recommend using raw, organic cacao powder—especially for raw recipes like this one—because it will be higher in antioxidants than regular, Dutch processed cocoa powder.
However, if you can’t find raw, organic cacao or simply prefer to use regular cocoa powder that’s totally fine! Just make sure it’s unsweetened!
Coconut and coconut derivatives (i.e. coconut oil or coconut butter) are the other two superstars in this recipe.
Coconut may be high in saturated fats, but we now know that these saturated fats are made of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are generally more healthful than other sources of saturated fat (i.e. animal-based foods). I went into the deets of why coconut products are so amazing here, but to refresh your memory, the MCTs found in coconut are metabolized by the liver and are incredibly nourishing to your digestive and nervous system.
Coconut contains lauric acid, which helps increase your body’s good cholesterol (HDL) and reduces the bad stuff (LDL). It’s also antimicrobial and antifungal—two properties that are really valuable for your microbiome’s health! And I know you all are all about keeping that gut and the friendly bacteria that call it home happy, right?
Ow, ow! Heck yes!
I truly love nothing more than finding ways to healthify my friends’ and family’s favorite treats. Except for when they try them for the first time and are capital S, SHOCKED at how delicious healthy can be.
Not to mention simple. Because these healthy vegan copycat Mounds bars take no time at all to throw together (aside from waiting for the ingredients to harden up in the fridge or freezer) and with only six ingredients chances are you won’t even need to go to the store. So not only are they simple, they’re dangerously simple.
Honestly, the hardest part (at least for me) is finding space in my freezer to let the bars setup. Anyone else struggle with this problem or am I the only one who has a summer berry and wild caught fish annnnnnd sparkling water hoarding problem?
Do any of you also wish you had at least two refrigerators, too? Sigh. A girl can dream…
Anyway, here’s how easy it is to make these healthier dark chocolate coated coconut candy bars a.k.a. healthy vegan copycat Mounds bars!
You start with unsweetened sweetened shredded coconut and add to a food processor along with a natural, unrefined sweetener of your choice. I used maple syrup for these bars, but other options include honey, agave, coconut sugar, liquid stevia.
To make the coconut sticky enough to form into bars, a bit of coconut butter does the trick! You could also use 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil instead of the coconut butter, but you guys know I’m pretty much coconut butter’s No. 1 Fan. I also like that it’s thicker than coconut oil, thus I think that it binds everything together much better than the coconut oil and doesn’t melt as quickly.
A splash of vanilla extract, dash of sea salt and voila! That’s it for the filling. Use the food processor to pulse everything until well combined but not pureed. You don’t want to make coconut butter!
(Unless maybe you do? Then check out my recipe published a few months ago here!)
OK so now that you’ve got your filling, give it a taste and if it’s sweet enough, you’re ready to form it into whatever shape you want you candy bars to be. I wanted mine to be as close to the real deal Mounds bars as possible so I made little rectangles.
Pop them into the freezer for about 30 minutes and after the bars are frozen solid, coat them in dark chocolate. You can either make your own vegan chocolate using maple syrup, raw cacao powder, and coconut oil OR melt a high quality fair trade chocolate bar/chocolate chips using a double boiler or microwave.
I didn’t have any really good dark chocolate on hand (the horror, right?!) so I simply whipped up the coconut oil and cacao version.
Dad tested and approved!
He LOVED the healthy vegan copycat Mounds bars so much that he even ate some for breakfast one day! I wish I was kidding. Ha! While not exactly how/when I envisioned them being eaten, I think they are probably better than the apple cheese danish that happened the day before…So I guess I can’t really argue too much.
(PS: Love you Dad!) 😉
Let’s get to it!
Serves: 9 bars
- 2½ cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup coconut butter
- ¼ cup + 2 tbs maple syrup
- ½ cup raw, organic cacao powder
- ½ cup melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- dash sea salt
- Pulse filling ingredients in food processor until well combined but don’t over process! You want the filling to retain some of the shredded coconut texture.
- Shape into 8–10 rectangular mini candy bars (or whatever shape/size you want them to be). Insert a toothpick into one end of the bars to use when coating with chocolate later.
- Chill in freezer on a parchment or wax paper lined baking tray for about 30-45 minutes.
- While chilling, make the vegan chocolate coating by whisking all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
- Holding the end of the toothpick or wooden skewer, dip and coat each coconut bar with chocolate until completely covered. Place on a wire rack (be sure to put a piece of wax paper neither the rack to prevent making a huge mess!) and then back in the freezer or fridge to set.
- Once hardened, carefully remove the toothpicks and the bars are ready to eat!
- Store in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for six months (but I doubt that they will last longer than a few days—tops!).
If you made this recipe with the vegan coconut oil-based dark chocolate, be sure to store bars in the freezer or fridge and eat within 20 minutes of removing as the chocolate coating will melt if left at room temperature too long.
Hope you all enjoy this super simple and healthier take on the Mounds bar!
YOUR THOUGHTS >>>
I’m curious, what was your favorite candy bar growing up? Do you still have one that you can’t resist? Personally, I’ve never been a big candy bar person. Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Starburst on the other hand? My kryptonite!
If you make this recipe, please share on social media (because if you don’t Instagram or Snapchat it, did it even happen? … I don’t think so my friends)! Use #honestlynourished and also tag me @honestlynourished so I can give you a big ‘ol high five.
Lastly, huge thank you to both my parents for your taste testing skillz galore (and so much more). Love you guys and miss you already. Mean it.
PS: Happy Birthday to my Uncle Danny, who celebrates his 60th year on Earth this week!