Vegan Food Nerd


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3 layer chocolate bars

20140918_195343Chocolate has always been my vice. I was never much of a candy fan and still don’t seek out vegan gummies or candies in that sense. However, when I went vegan I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy chocolate in the same way again and was worried that would make it difficult for me to stick with it. I was wrong though! I discovered that dark chocolate has such a richer flavour and I have really come to enjoy the higher cocoa percentage that milk chocolate lacks. That and it helps knowing that the more cocoa bean present, the better the chocolate is for you as it is a greater source of flavonoids (a special class of antioxidants). The great thing is, you really only need a square or two to be satisfied too!

(There are still companies that add milk ingredients to their dark chocolate products, so please be sure to look at the label before consuming.)

I know this says chocolate bar in the title, but they are much healthier than purchasing the store bought sugar filled variety! By controlling the sweetener and choosing some healthier ingredients, you can feel much less guilty enjoying one of these. They are not completely enrobed in chocolate but they aren’t lacking chocolate flavour at all. I ate one of these and then immediately shared a second one and I am pretty sure I could eat the whole batch at once, so please be warned that these are super yummy! The crust adds almost like a cookie base, while the middle layer is fudgey and soft, with a perfect coconutty chocolate coating. And if you are concerned about gluten, these can easily be made gluten free (see notes). I just happened to have gluten free versions of ingredients so I went with it.

I adapted this recipe from Oh She Glows. Original recipe here.

Notes:

  • I made some changes to the recipe based more on my pantry than anything else.
  • I also used a 9 inch square pan instead of 8 inch – use an 8 inch pan if you want thicker layers and add a few minutes to the crust’s baking time.
  • If you use gluten free oats, this is a gluten free recipe. I use Bob’s Red Mill brand. I also used gluten free whole grain brown rice crisp cereal.

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  • Feel free to garnish with chopped, toasted nuts or toasted coconut when you’ve added the melted chocolate layer. I simply forgot to.

Ingredients

Bottom Layer

3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup oat flour (I made mine. See step 2)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp maple syrup or agave
pinch of sea salt
1 cup rolled oats

Middle Layer

1 cup all natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
2/3 cup rice crisp cereal

Top Layer

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet but dark chocolate would also work great)
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions

Bottom Layer

1) Preheat oven to 350 F and line a 9 inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper (going each way in the pan) for easy removal of your bars later.

2) If making oat flour, put 1/2 cup of rolled oats into your food processor and process until ground.

3) Add almond flour, coconut oil, liquid sweetener and sea salt and process until combined.

4) Add the rolled oats and process to form a dough – the oats should not be completely chopped up and it should stick together when you press between your fingers.

5) Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan using wet hands to prevent sticking. I just used my fingers to press it out but you can use a pastry roller if you have one.

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6) Poke a few holes in the crust with a fork and pop in the oven for 11 minutes. Remove and place on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before adding the second layer.

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Middle Layer

7) In a medium saucepan, add peanut butter, coconut oil, liquid sweetener, vanilla and salt and heat over medium heat. Add cocoa powder here if also using. If you leave it out your middle layer will have a slightly different colour/taste. Stir until the coconut oil is melted and the mixture has a nice smooth texture.

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8) Remove from heat and when the crust has cooled pour the peanut butter mixture over top of your bottom layer.

9) Smooth with a rubber spatula and place in the freezer for at least 40-45 minutes to set completely.

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Top Layer

10) In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and coconut oil over medium heat.

11) Remove from heat and stir in shredded coconut.

12) Remove bars from the freezer and pour over melted chocolate, spreading evening with a rubber spatula.

13) Return to freezer to set the chocolate. When it is solid, cut into bars by slicing into 6 rows vertically and 3 rows horizontally.

14) Store in the fridge or freezer as they melt quickly. Serve before they have a chance to melt!

Makes 18 bars.

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S’mores cookies

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s’mores cookies

In the last few months I have discovered a few new vegan food products that I either hadn’t tried before or it didn’t exist. Marshmallows were never something I really missed eating over the last 8 years or so, but when I decided to finally pick up a bag of vegan marshmallows I was incredibly surprised. Who knew that they would actually have the taste and texture of the original, gelatin filled product?! And they even melt?!

I decided to try making a s’mores cookie with the marshmallows and they are best eaten warm and gooey. To re-heat just quickly zap them in the microwave, or let it rest on your tea or coffee mug while it’s still steaming hot (which is what I have done a number of times and it works perfectly).

Notes:

  • I used Dandies mini marshmallows for this recipe which you can find at The Mustard Seed Co-op 
  • The first time I made these without the graham crumbs on top and instead mixed them in with the flour – I much preferred them with the graham crumbs on top. (This is also why you can’t see them in the picture)
  • I haven’t tried freezing them yet so I don’t know if they freeze well – let me know if you try it! Just keep in mind they might get eaten before you get a chance..
  • These were inspired by a recipe by Dreena Burton – if you want a plain chocolate chip cookie, or a gluten free option, see her recipe!

Ingredients:

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all purpose, or mixture of the two)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
1⁄2 tsp sea salt
2⁄3 cup pure maple syrup
1⁄2 tsp blackstrap molasses (add a touch more maple syrup if you don’t have molasses)
2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup coconut oil, melted (or canola/veg oil)
2⁄3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips
2/3 cup mini marshmallows or chopped marshmallows (Dandies or Sweet and Sara’s)
1/4 – 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs

1) Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Line 1 or 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper

2) In a large bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add sugar, salt and stir until well combined.

3) In a separate medium bowl or mixing cup, combine maple syrup, molasses and vanilla. Stir in the oil until well combined.

4) Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, along with the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Stir until just combined (do not overmix).

5) Place a large spoonful of the batter on the baking sheet and sprinkle generously with graham crumbs. Leave at least 2 inches between cookies as these do spread quite a bit as they bake.

6) Bake for 10-11 minutes, until just golden. Let cool on the cookie sheet for no more than 1 minute to prevent them from drying out – transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes 18-20 cookies.