I’ve been on a chocolate hazelnut butter kick lately.
Honestly, I don’t foresee that going away anytime soon. And yes, I realize I’m like ten years late on all the hype… but now I definitely get what all the fuss is about. That sh-tuff is goooood.
It’s been making its way into so many things in my kitchen (mostly a spoon and then my mouth, but hey). My favorite so far: rice crispy treats. These don’t even need the chocolate on the outside they are so hardcore delicious. But, the silky smooth coating puts these babies over the top.
A few days ago, I got this hankering for a twix bar… or more likely a hankering to create a vegan and gluten free version of the popular candy that I grew to love as a child. I distinctly remember there being three varieties offered for sale in my small midwest village grocery store: peanut butter, cookies and cream, and caramel. I always loved each one for their own uniqueness… but for some reason, the caramel variety was my favorite.
Today, I barely remember what the darned things taste like… but I get the gist: a crunchy vanilla-ish cookie, creamy caramel, and a thin chocolate coating.
Easy enough, right?
This recipe does take a little patience, finesse… and an even temper. But, it’s definitely worth a go if you too miss twix bars like I do *whether you are gluten free, vegan, or both*.
Not exactly the same, but close enough to be worth the little bit of extra effort.
(updated— the amazingly rational Kittee came through in the comments with a stellar idea to make these super easy! She had a ridiculously good suggestion to pipe on the caramel sticky filling using a piping bag and flat tip. Genius!) see * below
So, I was running behind today with my VeganMoFo post and was trying to find something superquick to make up for it. As I wandered into my kitchen, I immediately spotted two of my favorite foods: potato chips and chocolate chips. I considered today’s post done!
I know this isn’t exactly a recipe… at all. It’s much more of an assemblage. But, chocolate covered potato chips are BIG where I come from (holla, Midwest!), so any of you unfamiliar to this insanely unhealthy flavor explosion: this post is for you. ♥
Plus, it’s almost Thanksgiving, ya know?! That’s right…add some mashed potatoes and gravy and we would have ourselves a three-course dinner, folks. :)
What can I say? I’m a simple kinda gal.
I was raised on the idea that: if you want a treat, you best learn how to make it yourself. And, if you want to learn how to make it correctly (or in other words: taste like my mom’s), you must follow the recipe exactly. The first part, I agree with- but the second part… bah. Not so.
Beginning when I was just fifteen I had started veganizing all of my mom’s, grandmother’s, aunts’ and cousins’ recipes out of an old box that my mom kept on the very top shelf of her highest kitchen cabinet (good thing I was one heck of a climber). Buckeye Candy*- popular here in the state of Ohio, where the magical buckeye trees flourish- is one of the first recipes I got my little vegan hands on.
I happen to think these vegan buckeye candies taste just as they should: incredibly unhealthy, rich and so so so delicious.
* I added the cardamom for extra yumminess, ’cause that’s how I roll.
Popcorn balls are one of those things that never EVER cross my mind to make or even eat. I have no idea why. Even though I’m not a huge fan of eating fistfulls of popcorn, I absolutely love popcorn when it is slathered in buttery flavored sugar and shaped into a sphere! I also love that they are sweet and salty and will make you totally sick if you eat too many. :)
Plus, these things are friggin cute. Seriously… they are so easy, but you can make them look like you spent hours making them- and because of this, they make the perfect “bring along to someone else’s party” food.
Yes, the title is a mouthful, but seriously, so is this candy. Lots of flavors going on in these babies: coconut, chocolate, peanut butter, and even a hint of vanilla.
Shredded coconut is one of those foods that most people either cannot get enough of, or cannot stand. I fall in between the two: I love it, but only in moderation.
Today, though, there is some major coconut love going around. As I was importing my photos for this post, I noticed that Susan from Rawmazing had created almost the exact same thing! Except she left out the refined sugar, added strawberries, and she didn’t cook anything. Okay, so not exactly the same. And Tasha, from The Voracious Vegan made this insanely delicious looking dessert using coconut milk.
Anyways, these candies are ridiculously easy to make if you have a candy thermometer. They are a tad trickier if you don’t, but still easy. If you are a coconut fan… give these a whirl. Try them without the chocolate too. I really enjoy them both ways.
As a child, did you ever love a food so much that you would risk the wrath of your huge and terrifying older brother to sneak the last one?
The other day my husband and I were reminiscing about childhood junkfood favorites, and I remembered how much I desperately loved Little Debbie Star Crunches. I had a sick obsession with these things. This most likely caused me to block all thoughts of them from my memory after I went vegan. Once my memory was triggered, though, I became dead set on the idea of making them myself. I needed a way to once again enjoy the taste/texture of the individually wrapped treats that I used to stash everywhere: lunchbox, pocket, fridge, freezer, bookbag, dresser drawer. It was kinda out of control.
I loved them primarily because of their gooey and crispy and hard to explain texture… which oddly enough gave them most of their flavor. I think sans the strange texture of a Star Crunch, we would be left with pretty much just “sweet”.
To recreate these things I needed a great filler, because the crispy rice and chocolate part is easy. The answer was the Medjool date! Dates are absolutely magical… I am super happy to have discovered the many uses of them.
These cookies are definitely close enough to an actual Star Crunch to satisfy my craving… without the long list of creepy ingredients and eternal shelf life.
Here in the United States, there seems to be some debate over the magnificent praline’s basic ingredients and texture. Not having a clue what a praline from the southern United States tastes like, I can’t fairly cast my vote for the best praline. Nor can I advise you on how to pronounce it… (praw-leen or pray-leen?) But I will provide one yummy version, and let you settle on the rest. I think these are fantastic… whether they are authentic or not.
These pralines will take you over the top with sweetness. So, prepare for a toothache if you over-indulge. They are creamy and dissolve upon bite, with a touch of sugary grainy texture to finish them off.
When I was a kid, I had a bad habit of eating brown sugar straight from the bag. These remind me of that, but with a nice touch of pecan mixed in. Simply irresistible.
Yay for caramels! I love love love caramels, but this is pretty much the only time of year I ever really make them. They are so ridiculously easy, though, that I think I should start making these all year long.
And so should you! These are ooey and gooey and have the perfect hint of cardamom… guaranteed to please.
With any candy-making, it helps to have a candy-thermometer… but for caramels, one really comes in handy. There is about a 20 minute (don’t quote me on that, because I have never actually timed it) cooking time where you don’t stir. During that time you just wait for the candy to reach the proper temperature or the proper “firm-ball” stage. So, making the caramels is easy. But, there is a lot of standing at the stove… and waiting.
If it has been a while since you have had a good caramel, or the vegan versions are just too inconvenient to purchase… just make your own! It is totally worth it. I honestly prefer these caramels to any of the store bought, non-vegan versions I remember as a kid. These are actually a veganized version of the caramels I made pre-vegan days…. and guess what? They taste exactly the same.
They are the perfect silky, but sticky, texture. And they have a nice, shall I say, “Earth Balance-y” flavor. These things are absolutely divine….
Okay, I have officially called off the cookie posts for now… they’ll be back… I just need a moment or two to figure out the chemistry of baking all over again.
But here’s a good treat to take your mind (and my mind) off of cookies for a while: chocolate covered dates! These are made with Medjool dates… which I find absolutely irresistible… but any date could probably be used. This is so simple, you may have already tried this- but if you haven’t yet -now is the time. I think this may be my new preferred way to enjoy chocolate. Actually, dates are my favorite thing next to chocolate and avocados… so, yeah, I LOVE these things. Try stuffing some other things in there too while you’re at it… almonds, more chocolate, whatever you want… the dates make a cozy little nook for all your bite sized goodies.
Today I had an overwhelming craving for something cinnamony. I also had some freshly purchased raw Spanish peanuts sitting on my kitchen counter. Even though I have made peanut brittle many, many times, I had never thought to change the recipe even the teensiest bit. So, I went all out and added cinnamon.
I know. I am terribly creative.
I realize that vegan peanut brittle isn’t exactly hard to come by, nor am I the slightest bit unique in thinking of adding such a common spice to such a common candy. But, if you have never tried it before, do so. It is really, really good.