I am originally from Chicago and Frango mints were always a big deal around the holidays. Marshall Field's sold boxes in various sizes, so they always made a good Christmas gift--small boxes for co-workers, big boxes as hostess gifts. I loved those minty little chocolate squares, although, like so many other things, they don't taste quite as good to me now that I'm an adult. I'm pretty sure it's because I'm still embittered about Macy's buying Marshall Field's and changing its name. You can't do that to an icon! It would be like if someone bought the Sears Tower and decided to rename it and expected everyone to call it by its new name when clearly it's the Sears Tower and always will be. Oh wait, that happened too! Now, Macy's sells Frango mints at all of its stores and they make them in eleventy billion different flavors, all shrink-wrapped and precariously stacked next to the cosmetics counter, so they're not our special Chicago thing anymore.
Anyway! All of this is to say: the holidays are a good time to partake in Frango mints and since most of my family is now vegan, I thought I'd make a dairy-free version. Also, there's a hole in my heart the shape of Marshall Field's. (I guess that would be a rectangle?)
I made vegan fudge back in October and since it was a little soft at room temperature, I realized that enrobing it in chocolate would be a good way to fix that. (By the way, I'm pretty sure "enrobing in chocolate" are the three best words in the English language.) Because coconut oil liquifies when heated, the trick is to make the fudgy centers, freeze them, then quickly dip them in chocolate. You have to act fast because if you don't, the center might start to melt into the coating or the coating might start to harden. Both of these things are bad! I sprinkled crushed candy canes on top to make the mints a little more festive, because you know me, I am all about being festive. (Note: I am not all about being festive.)
When served chilled, the centers of these vegan Frango mints are solid, but if you leave them at room temperature, the centers are smooth and melt-y, like liquid truffles. They're delicious both ways! And if you want to skip the whole chocolate enrobing step, you'll have delicious minty fudge—just keep it in the fridge or freezer and eat it while it's cold.
- ½ cup coconut oil solid, not melted
- ½ cup raw cacao powder
- ⅓ cup raw cashew pieces soaked in water for at least 2 hours and rinsed
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 6 ounces high quality dark chocolate chopped
- 1 candy cane crushed (optional)
- Combine the coconut oil, cacao powder, cashews, maple syrup, and peppermint extract in the small bowl of a food processor. Process until completely smooth--this could take some time, so be patient. (For mintier centers, add additional mint extract ¼ teaspoon at a time.)
- Line a small baking dish with parchment paper (I use a 7x5-inch dish). Pour the chocolate mixture into the dish and use a spatula to smooth the top. Place the dish in the refrigerator and chill for 2-3 hours, until the chocolate is solid. Remove the parchment and use a knife to trim any uneven edges from the chocolate, then cut it into 24 squares. Place the squares on a large plate that's been lined with parchment paper, cover it with foil or plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 8 hours.
- Place the chopped dark chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval, until it's melted (or use a double-boiler to melt it on the stovetop). Take the chocolate centers out of the freezer; one at a time, place them on a fork and dip them into the melted chocolate to coat, working quickly to make sure the centers don't melt. Let any excess chocolate drip off and carefully transfer each square back to the parchment paper-lined plate. Sprinkle the broken candy cane pieces on top, while the chocolate is still wet (it will solidify quickly!). Once all of the chocolates are dipped, refrigerate them for at least an hour before serving. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container; the mints can be served at room temperature for melty centers or chilled for more solid centers.
Danielle @ LabelsAreForTinCans says
These sound amazing!
Amazing recipe-- thanks so much! Do you mind letting me know what type of peppermint extract you use? (Alcohol or alcohol-free?) Mine seems so potent.
I cannot wait to try this-- thanks for sharing your creativity with us! 🙂
I use Nielsen-Massey Pure Peppermint Extract. If yours is especially potent, I'd start with a smaller amount and work your way up from there. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can taste as you go. 🙂
dishing up the dirt says
I love that these can be eaten chilled or at room temperature for a totally different experience in your mouth! yummy!
I ate plenty of them both ways. 😀
These sound great - and the pix are so darn pretty! Dumb question: I have coconut oil, but it's not solid. Can I make it solid? Refrigerate? Thanks!
Yes, you can pop it in the fridge for a little bit--it should solidify quickly!
Abby @ The Frosted Vegan says
I just yelled "whhhhatt?!" whenI saw this! I am totally with you on this. When Macy's bought MF I was all "Oh it will be the same, right? Right?!" NO. I love love love Frangos and can't waiiiiit to make these!
Yay, someone else understands! I could never even afford to shop at MF, but I did enjoy walking through it on my way to the rest of the mall. 🙂 And of course, it was fun to visit the flagship store downtown! It's totally not the same.
Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking says
These are so gaw-geous, Kiersten! What a fun and festive little treat for the holidays!
Thank you! I don't have a good track-record with the whole chocolate enrobing thing, so I was pretty proud of myself. 😉
Stephanie Wilson says
Do you think I would have success using walnuts in place of the cashews? I am allergic to cashews 🙁
The first time I tested this recipe, I used raw hazelnuts, which is what I used in the vegan fudge recipe that I based this off of. I ended up using cashews because I wanted the filling to be smoother and less nutty, but I think if you added a little extra mint extract, you could substitute a different kind of nut for the cashews.
Oh wow! My aunt introduced me to Frango mints on my first trip to Chicago. We met in the middle-- I was living in Milwaukee and she in Memphis (so not quite the middle!) and she has a great love for Chicago that she wanted to share. She knew chocolates were the way to start with me! You brought back good memories, thanks!
I love that story! 🙂 I have so many memories that I associate with certain foods too.
[email protected]'s Recipes says
They look so festive!
Do you think these would ship well?
I think they would be okay to ship as long as they were packed well. And you aren't shipping them to a warm climate. 🙂
I've never had frango mints before but anything mint and chocolate gets a thumbs up from me! A box of these would make a great gift, especially since they're so pretty in their stripy cases 🙂
If you've had mint meltaways before, they're pretty similar to those. 🙂
Wow these look amazing. I agree with Emma, anything chocolate and mint is fabulous! These are super cute, love them!
Yes, chocolate and mint is one of my favorite combinations too! 🙂
This makes me miss Chicago! Though I have to say that these look way prettier than the originals 🙂
Thank you! I worried about adding the candy cane because I wanted them to look like the originals, but I couldn't resist. 🙂
Gretchen @ Two Healthy Kitchens says
These are BEAUTIFUL!!! And don't ya know, I'm JUST about done with my cookies (I feel like I've made eleventy billion!!!!) but I MUST make these!! (And I only need to buy one ingredient!) Your photos are gorgeous, too!!
Macy's bought out our local store - Kaufmann's. I still catch myself calling it that sometimes! It's been years - at least 10 if not more. But I know what you mean.
I'm originally from Pittsburgh, and there are some things that are just native to the city. However, now I feel like those (totally awesome!) special things aren't just for Pittsburgh anymore - I see those things everywhere. It is sad.
But enough about sadness … faux rango mints for all!!! 🙂
I took a linguistics class about regional dialects when I was in college and I remember talking about how culturally, the United States is becoming more and more homogenous because of TV and the internet. A lot of those little regional things are dying out. I think that's why people get so upset over their local stores being bought out--it's not about the store itself, but more about feeling like another fixture of the community is being replaced with a large chain that sells the same products in Milwaukee, in Hartford, in Austin, in NYC, etc. It is sad!
Natasha @ The Cake Merchant says
Oh my gosh, I remember buying these at Marshall Field's when I was a kid! These look better and way healthier, though. I love that you called them faux-rango mints!
My husband totally rolled his eyes at the Faux-rango name, so thank you for that. 😉
Heidi @ Food Doodles says
Ooooh, these sound delicious! And they are so pretty. I hope I can squeeze trying these out into the next few days, they look so good! 🙂
I hope you like them if you make them! 😀
These sound so perfect--and are SO pretty, to boot! On the menu. . .! 😀 Have a wonderful holiday season, Kiersten! 🙂
Thank you! And Happy Holidays to you too!
I have spent a lot of time at Macy's in my life and cannot believe I have never had a single Frango mint! What have I been doing with my life?! Well, I'll just make them. Seems easier than braving holiday Macy's madness.
Yes, it's totally best to stay faaaaar away from stores right now. I have a few things left to buy tomorrow and I am trying to mentally prepare myself. 🙂
Anne|Craving Something Healthy says
I LOVE these! I'm from Chicagoland too and grew up on Frangos! They were my mom's stock up in-case-I-need-a-last-minute gift idea and we always had them in our candy dishes around the holidays. Thanks for bringing back the memories. I also never noticed them in my entire adult life of shopping at Macy's!
Yes, my grandma always had them in the candy dishes around Christmastime too! In fact, I'm sure when we're there this week, she'll have a box on hand for dessert. 🙂
I've never heard of Frango mints but I used to like those mint meltaway chocolates. Yours look storebought - I don't know how you got your chocolate coating looking so smooth! Every time I make a treat that's dipped in chocolate, I vow never to do it again because I always end up making a mess and dropping things in the chocolate and ending up with uneven coatings...
I was worried about the coating because the same thing happens to me every time too! This time I used a fork and dropped the squares in the chocolate, quickly rolled them around, then put the squares back on the fork and let the excess drip off. In the past, I used spoons or skewers, which didn't work nearly as well.
Okay, good to know! I usually try some combination of skewer, spoon and/or fork but I still wish there was an easier way!
Kare @ Kitchen Treaty says
This is such an ingenious recipe! Totally brilliant.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, Macy's bought out The Bon Marche, and I still twitch sometimes when I see Macy's name on The Bon. It's The Bon!
It's probably not healthy to have such an attachment to a store, is it? 🙂
I grew up in Seattle and always thought Frango's originated here with Frederick & Nelson 's department store! Hmmm, I need to research this. Those faux rangos look delicious!
Sure enough according to wiki they started in Seattle in 1918 and then were aquired by Marshall Fields in 1929. Either way they were delicious! I miss Frederick & Nelson 's!
Yes, I read that on Wikipedia too! 🙂 So I guess we kind of stole Frangos from Seattle!
I was wondering how you were going to make a vegan mint chocolate. Very clever. They look absolutely perfect and like they would just melt in your mouth!
Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!
They do melt in your mouth! 😀 Happy holidays to you too!
Kelly @ A Girl Worth Saving says
OMG! How did I miss this? Amazing and I promise you I will eat the whole pan. Nope, not sharing 🙂
I kind of wish I had some left now that the holidays are over. 🙂
Anna @ happycookinghealthyliving.com says
your pics are absolutely gorgeous! 🙂
Kiersten Frase says
Thank you! 🙂