Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two Decadent Vegan Desserts - Twix Bars and Chocolate Pudding Pie

Homemade Vegan Twix Bars

As promised, I am back with the recipe for the Vegan Twix Bars. As a bonus, I also have another decadent vegan dessert that might actually be better than the Twix. If you can believe that.
Whipped Coconut Cream

It's a pity I don't have a picture, but it was a Chocolate Pudding Pie, based on this post from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. It involves copious amounts of coconut milk - the rich, full-fat kind - so neither of these are diet recipes, but they're not meant to be. Even vegans need a little indulgence now and then.  :)

Vegan baking and dessert-making are of course hampered by the fact that no butter, cream, milk or eggs are involved. I gave myself a head start by choosing two desserts that don't include eggs and aren't baked (except for the cookie crust) so I didn't have to worry a whole lot about structure or texture - two major challenges vegan bakers face!

The Twix bars were inspired by Sherry Yard's recipe. The cookie crust seemed simple at first, just sub Earth Balance (or other trans-fat free margarine) for the butter - but it didn't quite work out that way. The margarine and sugar never quite whipped to a fluffy texture, and by the time I was done with it, the dough texture was elastic, which is not a good sign. You want a tender, crumbly dough when making short crust - a stretchy one will be tough. I threw the whole thing out and started over, changing the ratios to create a formula I hoped would work better. Luckily, it did.

The caramel was the most nerve-wracking part. I started with a traditional method - cooking the sugar with water and a bit of corn syrup, thinking I'd add the soy milk and other ingredients after it had caramelized. But then I started to wonder - what would happen if I added soy milk all at once to hot sugar? Would the moisture content cause it to crystallize into a mass? Would it never thicken?? Panic set in. The vegan recipe I had looked at said to cook everything all at once - margarine, soy milk and all - so I went ahead and dumped everything else in there with the sugar.

I thought my pot was big enough, but once the mixture came to a rolling boil, it wanted to roll right out of the pot, so I changed to a bigger Le Creuset. Here it came again. I couldn't get the temperature over 220 with the flame at that level, so I dumped the whole thing into my 8 quart stockpot, and brought the heat back up again. It looked pathetic at first, coming only about 1/8 of the way up the pot, but when it came back to a boil, it climbed about 3/4 of the way up. I share with you here what I wish I'd known. Be patient and use a very big pot!

Here, without further ado - are the recipes. Enjoy!

Vegan Twix Bars
adaped from Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard, and this vegan caramel recipe from Dog Hill Kitchen

Caramel:
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 1/2 cups plain soy milk (almond milk should also work if you are avoiding soy)
1 stick (4 oz) Earth Balance margarine, cut into four pieces.
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt

Crust:
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) Earth Balance margarine at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 /2 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tablespoons ground rice
2 cups cake flour

Topping:
5 oz dark chocolate - chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tsp trans fat free vegetable shortening
coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Bake the cookie crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x14 inch baking pan with baking spray or vegetable oil and line with parchment paper. Oil the parchment.

To make the ground rice, grind about 1/2 a cup of white rice in a food processor until fine - sift and grind again. The texture should be like whole grain flour. Set two tablespoons aside.

In a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the margarine with the sugar until light and fluffy (or as light and fluffy as they will get.) Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean pod with a paring knife, and add to the mixture along with the salt. Beat until incorporated. With the mixer on low, add the rice and blend in the cake flour 1/4 cup at a time. Mix just until incorporated. Press evenly into your parchment paper-lined pan, flattening the surface with your hands. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, until set and lightly browned.

While the crust cools, make the caramel.
Put the sugar, water, corn syrup, margarine and soy milk in a tall stockpot and heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar is dissolved. Boil rapidly, stirring with a wooden spoon - until the mixture reaches 245 degrees on a digital thermometer. (It will bubble up a lot) Stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Pour over the crust.

For the topping, melt chocolate with shortening by heating for 20-30 second intervals on 50% power in your microwave, stirring after each round, or use a double boiler. When it's good and warm, just stir until the remaining chunks melt.  Pour over the solid but still warm caramel and spread to the edges of the pan with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the top with sea salt or chopped salted peanuts if desired. Let cool completely, or place in the refrigerator to set. To cut, lift the whole plank out of the pan using the parchment paper and cut with a chef's knife.  Keep refrigerated, as the caramel will soften at room temperature.

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Vegan Chocolate Pudding Pie
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Crust:
1 Keebler 9 inch graham cracker crust or a homemade one made with margarine instead of butter.

Pudding filling:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder such as Valrhona or Scharffenberger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups almond milk
1 cup of coconut milk - or an additional cup of almond milk if you prefer.
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not more than 60% cacao), finely chopped

Whipped Coconut Cream:
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
2 cups chilled coconut cream (Chill 2 cans overnight, or for at least a few hours and scoop out the creamy solid part.)
Bittersweet chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

Make pudding filling:
Whisk together cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk in almond and coconut milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly - then boil, whisking, two minutes (until mixture thickens). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth. If there are any lumps, press the mixture through a sieve.

Pour filling into shell and cover the surface with wax paper if you want to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until cold - at least two hours.

Just before serving, beat the coconut cream with two tablespoons powdered sugar and vanilla until it holds soft peaks. (It takes a while, but it will get there!) Spoon onto slices of pie as you serve, and top with with bittersweet chocolate shavings or a dusting of cocoa.

16 comments:

  1. Alice, it was great to meet you last night! Looking forward to seeing your photos of all that yumminess...and these Twix bars look amazing! Amy (Jasmine's mama sitting next to you)

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  2. This looks amazing! dig the vegan caramel recipe as well. I usually make it with condensed soy milk so it's good to know you can forego that and make it without. Can't wait to try this!

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  3. Amy - it was so nice to meet you and Janet last night, and, of course - Jasmine! I posted some photos on Flickr here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/42323675@N00/sets/72157622783625734/ Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again soon!

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  4. Mattie - interesting, I didn't even know there WAS such a thing as condensed soy milk - good to know! Let me know how this compares to your other formula if you try it. ;)

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  5. Both recipes look fantastic! I love that the pudding is soy-free too.

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  6. This recipe (and its sub-ingredients) looks amazing! I cannot wait to try it. I just made vegan caramel over the weekend. Took me two batches to get it right! I don't know if I'm entirely pleased with the results, but it worked. I'll have to try your version. And I'm excited to see your recipe for coconut whipped cream. Thanks!

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  8. mmmm everything looks freaking delicious!

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  9. Sounds amazing cant wait to try it! In the UK, marg does not come in sticks. please could you add the weight too? one site I found says a stick is 4 oz/113.4g.

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  10. i love carrrrraaaammmmeeeelllllll!!!!

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  11. Tried the Twix bars and they turned out fabulous! I was a bit scared to try and make my own caramel but I had no issues other than it taking forever to get to the right temp that my arm got tired of stirring. My non-vegan parents also approve! Wonderful texture and flavor, and the recipe makes plenty that I can share with my co-workers and friends, and still have enough left over for the family.

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  12. is this earth-balance margarine just as normal margarine? or is it something very different? i really want to try these bars but i'm not sure if i can use normal vegan margarine. I guess there is no earth-balance brand in germany...
    love, Anne

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  13. Hi! Earth Balance is just a brand here that has a little bit better flavor than some margarines. If you have a favorite by all means try that. One commenter above asked about weight, and yes, here sticks are 4 oz - I should have included that. It's about 113.4 grams. Hope they turn out well for you!

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  14. i just attempted to make these...was not aware i had to let the crust cool before pouring the caramel over. When i did so the crust lifted and i think destroyed it :(...so much delicious sugar wasted.

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  15. @Jaime - oh no! the crust lifted?? I really don't know why that would happen - unless maybe there was space around it for the caramel to get under it? Hmmm...

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  16. Oh my science.
    I just made this for a friend of mine. I myself am not a vegan, but...
    holey smokes! This is a better caramel recipe than any other I've had! Keeping it for life!

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