Over the past ten years I have made the Hershey’s Kisses Mice recipe at Christmas several times. It is like conducting an art project. Each of these little morsels ends up having a different personality; it all depends upon the size and shape of the almonds for the ears, the way the Maraschino cherry stem curves or sticks up straight and how long the stem is, how the cherry and the Hershey’s Kiss come together after the cherry has been dipped, how large you make the red gel eyes and where they are positioned on the little Hershey’s Kiss face. It takes some time to put together just twenty of these little guys, but it always seems worth it when I am done. Never before I have I tried to make them gluten free. This year I discovered I have Celiac Disease (which means I can only eat gluten-free foods) so I took a look at the mice project through a gluten-free lens …. could the Hershey’s Mice be made gluten-free?
The Original Hershey Kisses Mice recipe includes the following ingredients:
- Hershey Kisses Milk Chocolate
- Maraschino Cherries
- Almond Slices
- Red decorating gel
- Semi-sweet chocolate baking chips
- Oreo Cookies (use only one side with the crème)
I was able to find a jar of Maraschino Cherries that actually indicated it was gluten free on the jar at a small specialty food store. A brand of cookies called Kinnikinnick KinniTOOS cookies are gluten-free and look and taste very similar to Oreos. And the other two ingredients that might contain gluten, were not marked on the packaging, but I was able to find information on the internet that the Betty Crocker red decorating gel, and the Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet chocolate baking chips were gluten-free.
There appears to be no substitute for Hershey’s Kisses. Literally. I couldn’t go looking for a gluten-free version. Not only is the word “Kisses” trademarked but so is the conical shape and plume device. Good thing that Hershey’s Kisses are gluten-free. However, Hershey’s is not putting the gluten free statement on the products at this point in time. There is information online to indicate that certain Hershey’s products, including the milk chocolate Kisses are gluten-free to less than 20 ppm.
What does that mean? What is 20 ppm? It is the level that the FDA is indicating is low enough that it will not cause harm. All of the labeling on the packaging for gluten-free at this time still does not fall under any FDA requirement. There are proposed rules which have been in review for several years which should be finalized soon.
Here is my rendition of the steps to make twenty Hershey’s Kisses Mice (there are many versions of this recipe):
1. Unwrap 20 Hershey’s Kisses
2. Choose 20 Maraschino Cherries with stems (the stems that curve and are a little longer I think look cuter)
3. Choose 40 Almond Slices for the ears keeping in mind the shape and the brown edges add character.
4. Separate the cookies so that one side has most of the crème filling and set aside the other sides of the cookies. I found that there were some dark crumbs on the white filling and so I removed the crumbs with a Knife and smoothed out the look of the white filling on the cookie where the mouse will sit. (You can substitute any cookie or cake or just put them on wax paper)
5. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler and keep the chocolate relatively warm while you are making the mice.
6. Dip a Cherry into the chocolate holding the stem, covering the entire cherry with chocolate but not the stem. I keep a paper towel available to dab off a little chocolate on the bottom of the cherry so that it doesn’t pool on the cookie when you set it down.
7. Place the Chocolate covered Cherry on the cookie (or on wax paper) and take a Hershey’s Chocolate Kiss and press the Kiss together with the Cherry to make the body of the mouse. The heat from the chocolate should allow the two to melt together slightly but I usually hold them together a little and that is when you can decide which way to angle the stem. I usually like to see the stems curve up or sideways.
8. Take two Almond slices and stick them on the back of the Hershey’s Kiss between the Cherry and the Kiss and you might need to make sure they don’t slide. It might take a few seconds for them to stay in place. The almond slices made the ears on the mouse.
9. Let them sit and then move them to a refrigerator.
10. Dab some red gel on the Hershey’s Kiss to create the eyes. I have also seen versions where some candy has been used for the eyes.
This is a creative Christmas project to do with your kids regardless of whether you make them gluten-free or not. Try it if you haven’t already! It is fun!
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Katherine: I am a Stay at Home Mom. I have been married to my husband for 11 years and have a son who just turned 10. I have recently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and have started cooking gluten-free meals for my family, which has been an enormous adventure and learning experience and I am eager to share all of my discoveries and tips with other families. Our family is also living with autism. My son has autism and seizure disorder, and we have been very involved with the use of applied behavioral analysis teaching at his wonderful school, and at home, since he was two.
– Katherine writes a weekly column about gluten-free information for MadameDeals.