Donna Kelly’s (Family’s) Joy To The World Balls

This recipe was submitted for entry in our Holiday Heritage Recipe Contest. To view all the entered recipes and read their heritage stories, click on the photo below.

There are foods that bring a remembrance of Christmases past. Our “Joy to the World” Christmas candies do that for us.

My mom’s family created this recipe and now my children make these candies, a four generation tradition. If a child of mine is not with us for Christmas, I package them up and send them off and I picture my child opening the box, inhaling the sweet coconutty smell and then biting into a candy, flooding their taste buds with memories of their childhood. Kelly Family Christmas in a bite.

I added my own twist and changed the diced pecans to diced toasted, lightly salted almonds. We loved the change, and my son Jake renamed the candies “Joy to the World” balls, since they now have a little of the flavor of Almond Joy candy bars!

And another tweak added by my generation: I switched up the butter to coconut oil, so now these are *** Healthified*** Christmas Candy. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Christmas candy with healthy fat.


12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening
8 ounces sweetened coconut
2 pounds powdered sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups diced toasted, lightly salted almonds
1 tablespoon vanilla

In a large bowl with a large sturdy spoon, stir together coconut, powdered sugar, coconut oil, condensed milk, almonds and vanilla. The mixture will be very thick! Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I once left this in my fridge for a week and it was just fine).

Remove coconut mixture from fridge and roll into balls about the size of a walnut.
In a double boiler, melt shortening over simmering water. Slowly stir in chocolate chips and keep over very low heat.

Using a sturdy toothpick, dip coconut balls into melted chocolate and set on a sheet of wax paper to cool. Dip tops of candies in chocolate to cover the toothpick hole. Refrigerate candies until ready to use – will keep up to one month.

2 Responses

  1. Robyn Wimmer

    I used to make a very similar recipe I called Christmas Bon Bons for an annual cookie exchange with friends. I always thought they reminded me of a Mounds Bar! I can *taste* the Almond Joy after Donna exchanged the pecans for almonds. I like her tweak for exchanging the butter for coconut oil; it’s inspired me to make her recipe in the New Year. My thanks to Donna and to you and your family for running the contest!

    1. Sarah Nasello

      Thank you for your kind comments, Robyn! These chocolate candies have been a huge hit for us this Christmas season. This contest was a very fun endeavor for us as a family, and we were thrilled to find many new favorites. Happy New Year!

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