Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Vegan Rocky Road Candy for Valentine's Day

This year I've decided to to put up a few posts about vegan chocolate and candy making in honor of Valentine's Day. So you'll see multiple posts on the subject, all hopefully completed a few days early so you can try them in time for the holiday if you wish. : )

Candy making can be a little intimidating, sometimes justifiably so. The recipes that involve candy thermometers and boiling hot sugar are, in fact, difficult and dangerous if you're inexperienced (or even if you're not). I myself have gotten at least one serious burn that way. But like everything, there's something of a sliding scale in terms of difficulty, and there are quite a lot of very good candy recipes that aren't too hard and don't involve anything hotter than melted chocolate (which is only about 100 degrees, hardly more than body temperature). A certain amount of caution is still wise--particularly with microwaves, which can create hot spots.  But you might be surprised how good your results can be with simple homemade candy recipes.

This particular recipe was designed to a accommodate a package of vegan marshmallows I had that had been sat on or left in the car or something and had consequently become One Giant Marshmallow.  There was no way they were going to just mix in to a standard rocky road recipe where the chocolate is melted and every else is stirred together. So the layering started out as a very pragmatic solution, but I've kept doing it because the result is so nice. The layers are pretty and the ingredients are well distributed--you really get something of everything in each bite. Adding peanut butter and soy milk to the melted chocolate gives you a soft, almost fudge-y texture and helps the candy hold together better instead of flaking apart.

Rocky Road Candy

Vegan Rocky Road

1 1/2 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate or carob chips
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/4 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)

1 10 oz package vegan marshmallows (or vegan marshmallow cream)
slivered almonds or other nuts
shredded coconut
raisins or similar dried fruit (optional, I usually leave out)

Line a 13 by 9 inch pan with wax paper.

Put chocolate, peanut butter and soy milk in microwave together until melted (or use stovetop if you prefer). Stir thoroughly; at this point the mixture should be smooth, shiny, and thick--pourable but not overly runny. Adjust with more chocolate or soymilk if too thick or thin.

Pour slightly less than half of the chocolate mixture on the wax paper.  Spread it out thinly with a spatula.  It should end up covering most of the bottom of the pan, but don't worry about reaching all the corners or anything--a rough rectangle is fine.

Lay marshmallows on top of the chocolate layer, covering it as completely as you can (on their sides works best)

Sprinkle almonds and coconut, and dried fruit (if using) over the marshmallow layer.

Pour rest of the chocolate mixture on top and spread with the spatula, making sure the two layers of chocolate meet on the sides.

Chill until solidified.  Cut into 1 by1 inch pieces.

In the pan

S'mores Rocky Road:  Add coarsely crumbled graham crackers in place of or in addition to the nuts.

Nut Free:  Either substitute soy nut butter or sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter in the chocolate mixture or omit it; you can just use straight melted chocolate if you move quickly (it'll harden faster). Leave out almonds--they can be replaced with anything crunchy, from sunflower seeds to pretzel pieces.

Add ins:  You could add a tsp or so of instant coffee or coffee substitute for a mocha effect, or some cinnamon and cayenne pepper for a Mexican Hot Chocolate effect.  If you've got a killer caramel recipe you could add a layer of that on top of the marshmallow layer for an almost snickers-like effect.

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