Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Homemade Bite-Sized Twix Bars

I've been a little obsessed with making chocolate candy lately.  Some raw and some not.  In a fit of boredom (read: massive chocolate attack), I decided to make vegan Twix bars last night.  Along with Whatchamacalit and Snickers bars, Twix was my favorite candy before I went vegan and started reading food labels (!).  There are numerous homemade Twix recipes out there, so my recipe isn't anything cutting edge, but I thought I'd share it anyway. These are somewhat labor intensive...you should probably only make these when you're bored and have absolutely nothing else to do. :) Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of each step in the recipe.  All I have is a photo of the finished product. Excuse my teeth marks...


Makes about 30 pieces

Caramel
1 cup pitted soft Medjool dates, packed
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

  1. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or high power blender until smooth.  Depending on how soft your dates are or how powerful your machine is, this might take a while. 
  2. Scrape down the sides of your container a few times with a rubber spatula and add more water a tablespoon at a time if your mixture seems too thick and is not blending well. There may be small visible chunks of dates in the caramel...totally okay.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside. (Note:  Do not place the caramel in the refrigerator at this point or else it will harden a bit and will be difficult to spread later.)

Shortbread Cookie (adapted from Christina Cooks)
1/2 cup avocado oil (or other vegetable oil)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
Pinch of salt

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  2. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined.  The dough will feel wet, but that's okay.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or transfer to a large freezer bag and let it chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. 
  4. After the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350°F.
  5. Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper (or in the freezer bag) so that you have a 1/4-inch thick rectangle/square.
  6. Cut the dough into rectangular strips about 2-inches long and 3/4-inch wide. If you rolled the dough out in a freezer bag, cut the bag open using scissors and peel off the top layer of the bag before cutting the dough.
  7. Transfer the strips to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  The dough will feel oily and delicate.  You may have to re-shape the strips a little once they're on the baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are golden.
  9. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 *** Assembly (Part One) ***

  1. After the cookies have cooled, spread 1-2 teaspoons of caramel evenly over each cookie and place them on a large plate.
  2. Let the caramel topped cookies chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the chocolate dipping sauce.

Chocolate Dipping Sauce
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Guittard Extra Dark)
1 teaspoon coconut oil
  1. Using the glass bowl double boiler method, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil.  Stir slowly using a rubber spatula. 
  2. Remove the bowl from heat when there are still a few whole chocolate chips left.
  3. Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and completely melted.

 *** Assembly (Part Two) ***

  1. Remove the caramel topped cookies from the freezer.
  2. Using a fork, dip each piece in the chocolate sauce and roll it around until completely coated.  Let any excess chocolate drip off and then transfer to a parchment-lined cutting board or baking sheet.
  3. Repeat until all the pieces are coated.  At some point, the chocolate dipping sauce will start to feel thicker, making the bars harder to coat. If necessary, re-heat the chocolate briefly so that the coating is smooth again.
  4. Place the bars in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until the coating has hardened completely.  
  5. Enjoy immediately (that's what I did!) or store the bars in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for a few days. (I have no clue how long these are supposed to last, but I doubt there will be any left after a day!)

These didn't taste exactly like Twix bars, but they were pretty close (better!) and definitely had the same texture:  gooey caramel, crispy cookie, and velvety chocolate.  And the good news is that these are a lot healthier with no margarine or artificial flavors. :)  I'm still not sure how many pieces this recipe is supposed to yield because I'll sheepishly admit to eating an unknown number of cookies as soon as they came out of the oven. Plus, I also reserved a small bit of dough to make little flower shaped cookies.  So, my 30-piece yield is just an estimate.  You may also want to cut your cookie strips wider, longer, thinner, etc. or layer on more or less caramel.  We're talking infinite Twix possibilities here...it's up to you!

And since we're talking Twix, here are a few other awesome recipes to try:

Homemade Crispy Twix Bars (from Oh She Glows)
Healthy Twix Bars (from Chocolate Covered Katie)
Gluten-Free Vegan Twix Bars (from Fork and Beans)
Raw Double Twix Bars (from Fragrant Vanilla Cake)

It would also be nice to have the following to go along with this recipe:

  • Self-restraint (optional)
  • Elastic waist pants (helpful, but not required)
  • Friends and family with whom to share your fabulous homemade vegan Twix bars (good to have)
  • Unbridled generosity if sharing with complete strangers (unlikely, but wouldn't this be great?!)

Enjoy! :)


Friday, October 25, 2013

Spinach Miso Soup with Tempeh Croutons

I've made some recent posts bragging about the lovely Indian summer in San Francisco.  Apparently, it's now over because it's been freezing cold here!  I know San Franciscans are notorious for complaining about cold weather that would be considered warm in other parts of the world, but still.  It's cold and all I want to do is eat soup.  So, here's a quick and easy soup recipe for the cold fall/winter days to come.


Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, sliced
4 cups of water 
2 bouillon cubes
4 cups of spinach, coarsely chopped (I used Bloomsdale spinach; you can use any leafy greens)
2 tablespoons miso paste (I used brown rice miso)
1 8-oz. package of tempeh, cubed
Shredded red cabbage, for garnish (optional)
Cashew cream, for garnish (optional) -- I used this recipe and thinned it out with some water so that it could be easily drizzled.
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant and soft.
  2. Add the water and bouillon cubes and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the spinach, cook for 2 minutes or so, and then stir in the miso paste.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. (I did this in batches)
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the tempeh cubes and sauté for 2 minutes or so, until crispy and browned on all sides. 
  6. Add a few pieces of shredded red cabbage to the tempeh and sauté for a minute, until soft.
  7. Pour some of the soup into bowls, drizzle with cashew cream, and top with the tempeh croutons and red cabbage.  

I suppose this soup doesn't really have to be blended, but I preferred the texture that way.  It also creates a soup thick enough to prevent the tempeh croutons from instantly sinking to the bottom of the bowl.  The cashew cream didn't really add much flavor here, since the soup is super savory.  But it made for a nice presentation and color contrast.  And as I mentioned above, you can use any leafy greens that you have on hand...Swiss chard, bok choy, or the ever popular kale.

I really loved this soup.  It would make a great base for other soup creations.  Try adding in some rice, pasta, lentils, etc. to give it some more bite.  I ended up drinking most of it out of a cup.  So, I guess we can call this a warm and savory green smoothie. :)

Ok, maybe not.

Enjoy!