Saturday, June 29, 2013

Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

I have no idea where I found this recipe for chocolate caramel shortbread bars, but I knew I'd have to make a variation of it from the moment I saw it.

Mine were made in a 10 ½" springform pan, lightly greased for easy removal. I used the provided shortbread recipe, but with icing sugar (rather than granulated) because I have icing sugar to use up. I also substituted vegan margarine in place of the butter. Likewise, the chocolate topping recipe was followed almost exactly, with vegan margarine again and agave syrup rather than corn syrup. I had to break drastically from the linked recipe's caramel component because of the high amount of dairy in it. I was inspired by a recipe I found for vegan dulce de leche. My version follows:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp baking soda (to prevent curdling)
  • salt, to taste

Combine the first four ingredients in a small saucepan, stir. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to gently bubble, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for about 2 hours. These steps make the vegan dulce de leche.

To make the caramel topping, heat the dulce de leche to "soft ball stage" (although I see I ought to have gone to firm ball stage) and pour over the cooled shortbread. When that has cooled fully, pour the chocolate topping over that, smooth it out, sprinkle with sea salt and place in the fridge to chill. Kara and I got to these before they were fully set, but they were too tantalizing to pass up.

As for the results, the caramel and chocolate were so good, but I confess that I would have liked a shortbread base which was less crumbly and more like a familiar candy bar with similar ingredients. Next time, I think I'll try adapting the shortbread recipe from this knock-off recipe.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Vegan Stroga*not*

Meal planning around here tends to involve choosing three different dishes which we intend to go for a couple of dinners worth of servings each. I've recently been able to convince Matt that having a meat-free dish every week makes good economic, health and environmental sense, so there's usually a meat-less dinner option in our weekly dinner menu.

I've got a small selection of vegan cookbooks and cracked one open last week for inspiration. I hit the mother lode when I discovered a meatless take on traditional Beef Stroganoff, so I thought I'd try my hand at making one for tonight's dinner.

My version follows:

  • olive oil, for the pan
  • 3 leeks, washed, green parts trimmed off, and thinly sliced
  • 2 large shallots, sliced lengthwise
  • medium yellow onion, halved and sliced lengthwise
  • 16 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • water
  • ½ head of roasted garlic
  • 12 oz. container of vegan sour cream
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • splash of apple cider vinegar
  • dash of dry mustard

Sautée the onions, shallots and leek in the olive oil with salt until they have softened and begun to caramellize (mine went a bit over, but you couldn't tell from the finished product), add the mushrooms and continue sautéeing until the mushrooms start to lose some of their water. Add water to the pan and cook until you're satisfied that the flavours have melded (keep adding water to the pan as necessary so that the mixture doesn't dry out). Squeeze in the roasted garlic and mash it into the mixture. Add the sour cream substitute and stir well to incorporate. Season with the salt and pepper, and sparingly with the cider vinegar and dry mustard. Serve over noodles and be amazed that something that tastes this good doesn't have any meat in it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dairy-free peanut butter pie!

It's probably been close to a decade since I had peanut butter pie, what with the fact that I've had a mild peanut sensitivity for as long as I can remember, and that the recipe for the pie usually contains whipped cream and cream cheese. Still, I've been toying with the idea of making a dairy-free version for years, and was finally inspired enough to give it a shot today.

I based it on Canadian Living's Chocolate Peanut Butter pie recipe, which I have in a Canadian Living Holiday Best magazine that I've had since shortly after moving out of my parents' place. I used vegan margarine and pre-packaged Oreo crumbs for the base. Vegan cream cheese, WOBButter and more vegan margarine were included in the filling. Additionally, I made up a batch of Mocked Whip Cream from the Friendly Food cookbook to substitute for the whipped cream called for in the recipe.

The filling was surprisingly easy to make. For future reference, I should note that I've had better success using Earth Balance margarine in the mocked whip cream — it just ends up fluffier. All I had to do to really enhance the flavours was add a bit of salt. Then I shaved some chocolate over top and placed the pie in the fridge to set. We should have a fantastic dessert after dinner tonight!