Chocolate Haystacks … Revisiting Those Delicious, Easy-to-Make Treats of Long Ago

gluten free, grain free, dairy free, chocolate haystacks, chocolate clusters, grain-free chocolate haystack candy, gluten-free candy, grain-free candy, dairy-free candy

Grain-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Haystacks

Yes, I made Chocolate Haystacks. Dark Chocolate Haystacks. And they are gluten-free, grain free, dairy-free … oh, and good … as in really good. If you’re familiar with Haystack Treats, they’re usually made with butterscotch chips, which give the haystacks a more suitable golden color. However, not all butterscotch chips are gluten free. Most contain barley and, therefore, gluten. Plus, that butterscotch coloring doesn’t come naturally; it’s courtesy of “Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, and Blue 2 Lake.” No thanks. But I digress … a bit. If you remember making Haystacks from your gluten-full days, you’ll also remember that chow mein noodles are required. They form the basis of the haystack structure, but chow mein noodles contain gluten, right? Well, yes, almost all brands do. Certainly any chow mein noodles that you can pick up in the Asian food aisle of your mainstream/basic grocery store or even your ethnic grocery store contain gluten. But now Goldbaum’s has come out with a gluten-free chow mein noodle. I didn’t know that I even needed gluten-free chow mein noodles in my life, but making these Chocolate Haystacks might have convinced me otherwise.

Let me back up a minute. Goldbaum’s sent my support group a complimentary package of products to try. Their new gluten-free Chow Mein Noodles were included. I didn’t have any Asian dishes in mind for our next meeting, but I did plan to make Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Chicken and Ham. Testing out the Chow Mein Noodles as Crispy Noodles like the ones I used to love in my Egg Drop Soup seemed like a good idea. I liked the addition to my soup. I didn’t think Goldbaum’s Chow Mein Noodles tasted quite as good as crispy noodles, but I and others agreed that the more we sampled them, the more we liked them.

Goldbaum’s Gluten-Free Chow Mein Noodles are gluten free, grain free (at least they appear to be grain free per the ingredients), dairy free, GMO free, and kosher. They contain no coloring or preservatives. The ingredients are:  PALM KERNEL VEGETABLE OIL, TAPIOCA STARCH, POTATO STARCH, PASTEURIZED EGG WHITE, SALT, SPICES (SWEET PEPPER). Goldbaum’s products are also made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. I love Goldbaum’s gluten-free ice cream cones and I also enjoy their gluten-free pasta, too. FYI:  Goldbaum’s is having a raffle of $200 worth of products. The drawing will be in January 2013; enter here.

gluten free, grain free, dairy free, chow mein noodles, Goldbaum's

It was a conversation with Jeanne (Art of Gluten-Free Baking) earlier the day of our support group meeting that inspired me to make these Chocolate Haystacks. Jeanne was our wonderful guest speaker. She had traveled cross country in conjunction with the release of her new cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays. She shared her gluten-free baking approach, new cookbook, divine gluten-free spritz cookies, and much more with my support group. (I’ll tell more in my November GFE Virtual Gluten-Free Support Group post.) From the moment, I picked Jeanne up at the airport, we had done what girlfriends do … we had talked nonstop. As we prepared for my support group meeting, Jeanne saw the gluten-free chow mein noodles and commented that she had eaten some Chocolate Haystacks years ago, not realizing that they contained chow mein noodles and, of course, she had gotten glutened. When cleaning up from the meeting and storing the remaining chow mein noodles, it seemed only appropriate that I should plan for some safe, gluten-free Chocolate Haystacks in the near future.

spring, hay, hay bales, mountains

True haystacks, the ones shown in Van Gogh’s famous Haystacks in Provence, are rarely seen these days. Well, at least in our area. Giant hay bales and some small square bales are usually the presentation of hay on our local farms and the ones we pass on the way to our mountain property (as shown above in a spring photo from a few years back). And some say that my Chocolate “Haystacks” don’t exactly look like haystacks; they’re right, of course. When I shared the photo on my gfe Facebook page, one of my friends across the pond, Naomi (Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried), stated “They look like little campfires – especially the ones with cranberries (or cherry?) on top. I’m thinking that they would be great for Bonfire Night (November 5th UK).” Naomi is right about both the presentation of these treats and the cranberries on top, and I appreciate her compliment and idea! First, I don’t think anyone will mind that they look more like prone haystacks than standing ones, or little campfires. They do look like little campfires and would be great for a bonfire celebration. Being a camping gal, I love that! Second, those are cranberries (Craisins to be exact; I keep those on hand for Kathi’s Great Salad) on some of the treats and pistachios on top of others. So these could be Chocolate Campfires. Or I could have called these Chocolate Clusters. Longtime gfe readers will know that I have a hard time choosing appropriate names for some of recipes (e.g. Molasses Banana Bread … or Is It Cake?). Haystacks are seasonal though and tied back to the original chow mein noodle treats of long ago. Anyway I quickly topped the treats with these little adornments after I placed them on the baking sheet to indicate what was inside each as I had made a few variations. (I also made some with pecans, but didn’t have any pretty pecan pieces for topping.) Note that topping the treats is a great job for one of your kitchen helpers as you will have to work fairly quickly in just dropping the treats on the baking sheet before the chocolate hardens.

An online search revealed another brand of packaged gluten-free Chow Mein noodles—from—but I don’t know anything about their version. And, by the way, you can even make your own gluten-free chow mein noodles by following Heidi’s (Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom) instructions. Note: If you want to make something gluten free, dairy free, etc. that seems impossible, chances are that Heidi’s already done it, and done it very, very well! Cases in point: dairy-free (and soy-free, vegan) butter; Goldfish crackers, plus Goldfish “everything else”; and corn-free Worcestershire sauce. (Find many more examples of her recipe genius by clicking on her recipe tab and then choosing the individual categories of interest.)

These treats also reminded me of Kim’s (Cook IT Allergy Free) Sweet and Salty Pretzel Bites. Those are such easy and delicious goodies!

Another very tasty, easy-to-make drop treat would be my Almond Chocolate Double Coconut No-Bake Cookies here on gfe.

Have you noticed that I seem to be fixated on desserts of late? There’s a reason for that. Well, I should say more of a reason than usual because I always love desserts! Plus, I haven’t been posting as much here on gfe. There’s a reason for that, too (and it’s not just because of the totally irksome computer problems I’ve been having). Ah, the intrigue. Stay tuned to gfe there’s a big, exciting announcement coming very soon! But for now, here’s the recipe for Chocolate Haystacks … enjoy!

gluten free, grain free, dairy free, chocolate haystacks, chow mein noodles

Chocolate Haystacks (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chips or broken pieces (I usually use these chocolate chips which I can get at my basic grocery store and are by far my favorite, or these which I can order online)
  • 1 ½ cups gluten-free chow mein noodles (or gluten-free pretzels, or even slivered almonds for smaller treats)
  • 1 ½ cups pistachios, shelled OR up to 1½ cups of other favorite ingredients (e.g., small nuts (or nut pieces), dried cranberries (or Craisins), raisins, sunflower seeds).
  1. Line one very large baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets) with waxed paper or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Using the double-boiler method, melt chocolate in a large pan. Once chocolate is melted, remove pan from heat and immediately stir in other ingredients. Add additional amount of ingredients if needed to get haystack “clusters.”
  3. Drop bite-size spoonfuls of mixture on prepared baking sheet.
  4. Place baking sheet in freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes so haystacks will set.
  5. Makes a little over a dozen 3-inch haystacks.

Full disclosure:  Goldbaum’s provided the gluten-free Chow Mein Noodles free of charge to my support group, but the opinions expressed in this unsolicited review are strictly my own.

This recipe is included in Gluten-Free Wednesdays and Allergy-Free Wednesdays.

Not just gf, but gfe!

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


24 Responses to “Chocolate Haystacks … Revisiting Those Delicious, Easy-to-Make Treats of Long Ago”

  1. Alyssa | Queen of Quinoa on October 26th, 2012 12:58 pm

    Loving the idea of using chow mein noodles, but loving the slivered almond idea even more. Mmmm!

    • Shirley on October 27th, 2012 11:30 pm

      Hey Alyssa–I think I love the slivered almond idea, too! Can’t wait to try it myself. :-)

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Hope you have great success with your haystacks. ;-)

  2. SherriS. on October 26th, 2012 1:15 pm

    Oh, Shirley!!! I didn’t know there were gluten-free chow mein noodles:) My mom makes her haystacks with butterscotch morsels. My bad day is suddenly looking a lot brighter! Thanks for sharing this. I also take a lot of pictures of hayfields btw.

    • Shirley on October 27th, 2012 11:34 pm

      Hi Sherri–LOL on these making your day a lot brighter, but I love that! Enjoy your haystacks. :-) Real hayfields are just so photogenic, aren’t they? ;-)


  3. Jen A on October 26th, 2012 7:00 pm

    These can also be fashioned into spider cookies for a fun GF Halloween treat! Who knew GF chow mein noodles :)

    • Shirley on October 27th, 2012 11:37 pm

      Hi Jen–That’s a great idea! Please send me a photo of your spider cookies if you make some. :-)


  4. Kalinda on October 27th, 2012 10:51 am

    My mom always make a dozen or so varieties of cookies every Christmas, and she makes something similar. I believe hers are called bird’s nests. They’re always made with chocolate, and they have slivered almonds with the chow mein noodles. I think I knew other people called them haystacks, but never knew that butterscotch was involved to give them the proper color. Although I must admit, chocolate always beats butterscotch in my book, so I’m glad I’ve always had the chocolate version.

    • Shirley on October 27th, 2012 11:42 pm

      Hi Kalinda–Yes, there are bird’s nest cookies using chow mein noodles. These gf chow mein noodles are a little too large for bird’s nest cookies unless one were to break them (or unless the nest was an eagle’s nest!). I love that your mom uses chocolate and chow mein noodles PLUS slivered almonds. :-)

      I enjoy natural butterscotch flavoring (as in when one’s ingredients create that flavor), but I think chocolate always trumps butterscotch. ;-)


  5. Sarah @ Celiac in the City on October 28th, 2012 10:57 pm

    My grandma used to make these every year — thanks for the trip down memory lane! There is a company in Wisconsin that makes GF chow mein noodles too, of course I can’t think of the name right now, but they sell them at Festival Foods. Thanks for sharing, Shirley!

    • Shirley on October 31st, 2012 10:32 am

      Hey Sarah!–I was sure I’d replied to you—yikes! It’s wonderful when a post I share evokes lovely memories for a reader. It seems like this one is making quite a few smile thinking back to haystack versions that family members have made. :-) I’m really surprised that there are a few choices for gf chow mein noodles; I had no idea!


  6. Ricki on October 29th, 2012 1:13 pm

    Seriously delicious sounding. How I wish I could have a huge haystack about now!! :D

    • Shirley on October 31st, 2012 10:37 am

      Hey Ricki, yes, these haystacks are pretty huge! The chow mein noodles don’t look that big/long by themselves, but when you add the chocolate and other ingredients, they quickly become more like mini-log jams. LOL We did enjoy them though! ;-)

      Beaming you one!

  7. Jeanette on October 29th, 2012 3:23 pm

    These looked like spiders for Halloween when I first saw them LOL. So good to know there’s a gluten-free alternative to make these treats.

    • Shirley on October 31st, 2012 10:38 am

      Hi Jeanette–A few others have mentioned that these make them think of spider treats! I might have to do another rendition to see how much I can get them to look like spiders. ;-)


  8. InTolerantChef on October 30th, 2012 9:36 pm

    We make a similar treat with thinner noodles, peanut butter and chocolate that we call ‘Spiders’. So yummy, I’ll have to give your version a try too :)

    • Shirley on October 31st, 2012 10:40 am

      InTolerant Chef–Oooh, those sound good and seasonally appropriate. Are they on your blog? Will have to look!


  9. Kim-Cook It Allergy Free on October 31st, 2012 1:50 pm

    Oh these are too cute!! How perfect!! I am going to have to make your version now too. And now I really need to get my hands on some of those gf chow mein noodles! I used to make a yummy chow mein recipe years ago and would love to whip it up again, in a gf version!! Love your photos by the way! :D

    • Shirley on November 1st, 2012 12:16 pm

      Hi Kim–Thanks on all, dear! Your comments always make my day! :-) We should have a party with all kind of variations on twig and chow mein noodle treats. Would that be some yummy fun? And, yes, if you have a great chow mein recipe, I’d say that you’d really enjoy making it again using these or one of the othe gluten-free brands. I’ll look forward to that on your site! Btw, I had some left over in the bowl and left them out uncovered overnight and I was able to re-crisp them in the oven at 400 degrees for a few minutes and just eat them as a cracker like snack. ;-)


  10. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) on November 1st, 2012 4:34 pm

    Oh my goodness! My boys would go crazy over these! I’m always looking for quick easy treats to make with them! Definitely making these.

    I hope you’re doing well my friend! Hugs to you!

    • Shirley on November 1st, 2012 5:19 pm

      Thank you, Sarena! I hope you make them with your cuties (all three of them!) and you all enjoy them. I will be interested to see what you decide to put in yours. ;-)

      Hanging in there, but that’s only due to being overbooked. Small, no teeny tiny, potatoes with all the world has been going through of late. And all of my worries will ease up soon! Hugsss back!

  11. Vicky on November 1st, 2012 7:05 pm

    I have never heard of chocolate haystacks but they certainly look good and they are a great idea for bonfire night – my Grandma, bless her, used to call it “The Plot” – after Gunpowder Plot. I love posts which bring back memories!

    We still see traditional haystacks though they are getting more and more scarce.

    Did you get my email?

    • Shirley on November 1st, 2012 8:50 pm

      Hi Vicky–Well, I’d never heard of bonfire night until Naomi mentioned it in her comment. That sounds like such a fun celebration! I’m embarrassed to say that Gunpowder Plot didn’t ring a bell with me. Some of the details are familiar, but it’s all a bit fuzzy in my history archives. ;-) I like how your grandmother had her own name for the event; that always makes things extra special. :-)

      I wondered if anyone from another country would say that they still had “real” haystacks. I love that you do, but I’m not surprised that they dwindling in number.

      Just replied to your email. Beeeeeeeehind! xo,

  12. jamie on November 12th, 2012 2:48 pm

    I need to look into those noodles! :) I always loved these with butterscotch. Maybe I would make them dairy and tree nut free by using peanut butter and peanuts. :) Thanks so much!

    • Shirley on November 15th, 2012 9:41 pm

      Ooops, Jamie, I missed your comment between our email exchanges. ;-) I’m sure you could make a lovely version that fits your family’s requirements!


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