Sunday, June 22, 2014

The easiest vegan candy bar

Because sometimes you don’t want to break out the candy thermometer.

The average candy bar aisle can be a little barren for vegans. You’d be lucky to find a couple of plain dark chocolate bars, and not even that if you require carob. Pretty much nothing with fillings or add-ins such as nuts, toffee or peanut butter.

I’ve done quite a few posts on homemade vegan candy and chocolates—a couple of years ago I did a full week of posts on the subject for Valentines Day. Some of them are quite elaborate and produce excellent results. But sometimes you just want an easy treat without a lot of fuss and labor.

This recipe is the best balance I’ve found between easiness and still producing a recognizable candy bar with all the elements you miss from pre-vegan store-bought candy bars: layers of toffee, crunch, nuts, peanut butter and chocolate, all without needing a candy thermometer or the bother of hand-dipping in chocolate.
To me, it tastes most like a combination of a Butterfinger and a Heath bar or Almond Roca. Yum!

Safety note: even thought we're not using a candy thermometer here, we're still dealing with hot sugar, aka culinary napalm. So be careful, please, and no kids during the hot sugar part of the recipe. They can help make the cracker sandwiches if they want, but after that they should go play away from the kitchen until it's time to eat. 
Peanut Butter Toffee Bars

Chocolate--Peanut Butter--Toffee--Cracker Candy Squares



1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp smart balance light
2 Tbsp oil
dash of cinnamon

16 saltine crackers (matzo or ritz style crackers may be substituted)
about 3 Tbsp peanut butter (or other smooth nut butter)
1/3 cup vegan chocolate or carob chips

Optional: chopped nuts or crushed candy canes


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Filling the crackers with peanut butter

Make little sandwiches out of the crackers and peanut butter by spreading half the crackers with about a teaspoon of peanut butter each and placing the other half of the crackers on top of them.  Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, and arrange the cracker sandwiches in a single layer across the bottom of the pan, breaking them if necessary to fit.

Place sugar, maple syrup, smart balance light, oil and cinnamon in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 ½ to 3 minutes, stirring once a minute, until the mixture forms large foamy bubbles.

Foamy bubbles

Toffee poured over crackers
Wearing oven mitts, carefully pour the sugar mixture over the cracker sandwiches. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes, until the butterscotch is fairly brown (but not black).

While the bars are baking, melt the chocolate or carob chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. This took me about 1 minute 15 seconds, but that may vary.

When the bars come out of the oven, pour the melted chocolate on top and spread it out in an even layer using a spatula or the back of fork. Sprinkle with nuts or candy, if using. Let cool until the chocolate is completely hard.

Flip the bars out on to a plate and break them into pieces. They should break into fairly even squares along the borders of the cracker sandwiches.

Note: if you cook the sugar mixture for a shorter amount of time in the microwave, it will come out less like hard toffee and more like soft, oozy caramel. However, the bars will not hold together as well or come out of the pan very easily. It’s your call.

vegan candy bars

As far as the toppings are concerned, you can achieve a number of different effects. You may find you like salted, toasted or even spiced nuts better. The candy cane version would be nice during the holidays.

No comments:

Post a Comment