I am slowly working my way through a box of seven different candy bars from the good folks at Go Max Go Foods, makers of vegan candy bars that will remind you of some of your childhood non-vegan favorites, but are no mere knock-offs.
As if the flavors and textures alone weren’t enough to tempt, their commitment to ethical and non-GMO sourcing is the icing on the cake, er, the coating on the candy bar.
In this recipe, cookie dough and Jokerz candy bars “complete each other” like Batman and his nemesis for a wildly delicious double dose of peanuty, nougatey, chocolatey goodness.
2 Go Max Go “Jokerz” candy bars, sliced lengthwise and then across to create 12 pieces each
1/2 cup vegan butter
2 tablespoons crunchy “natural” peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar + 1/2 cup additional powdered sugar (for rolling)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup mini vegan chocolate chips or 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Slice each candy bar lengthwise and then across to create 12 pieces each. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, and vanilla. Beat in 1/4 cup powdered sugar until fluffy. With mixer on low, mix in flour and sea salt followed by chocolate chips or peanuts. Shape generous tablespoons of dough around each candy bar piece to form a ball and place cookies about 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake for approximately 8 minutes or until set and light golden brown, watching carefully during the last minute or two. Avoid over-baking or they will split open and the candy bar will ooze out. Cool for 5 minutes. Place remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each cookie in it to coat. Place cookies on wire rack to cool completely. Roll again in powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
If you think peanut butter cups are good, try peanut butter cups topped with layers of creamy vanilla ice cream and decadent chocolate ganache for a frozen peanut-topped treat.
If she’d had to chose, Cleopatra certainly would have chosen these over Mark Antony!
The Good Folks at Go Max Go Foods sent me a bounty of bars recently, so stay tuned for more creations and visit them on Facebook!
2 packages Go Max Go Cleo’s peanut butter cups (each package contains two cups) or the vegan peanut butter cup most readily available in your area.
1 pint vegan vanilla ice cream, softened and stirred until creamy
1/4 cup vegan soy or coconut creamer
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
Garnish: 4 large peanuts or 2 teaspoons chopped peanuts
Line 4 muffin tins with 4 muffin liners and place one Cleo’s peanut butter cup in the bottom of each. Top each with 1/4th of the ice cream, smoothing the tops. Freeze. Meanwhile, heat soy creamer to just before simmering on top of stove or in microwave. Whisk in chocolate chips until smooth. Cool to room temperature and top each ice cream treat with one-forth of the ganache, smoothing the tops. Garnish with one large peanu tor 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped peanuts. Refreeze for at least 2 hours. To serve, remove each treat from the muffin tin, which may require a knife to pop it loose. Peel off muffin liners and discard, serving on top of fresh liners, if desired. Allow to soften slightly before serving with a small sharp knife for the initial slice through the bottom.
I am SO sorry for being neglectful of my blog! The spring at most high schools, including in art departments, is especially busy. Plus, last weekend, I was honored to serve as a Council Chaperone for a favorite student (one of many, many) at our school’s amazing Leadership Workshop at Triple-R Ranch from Friday to Sunday. This week was the last of the quarter, so grades had to be posted by 2:30 p.m. yesterday, but we taught all day instead of having a “Teacher Records Day” because of our district’s Snow Day Make-Up plan. And I leave shortly to visit my family for a week. Whew!
But, I did want to post this recipe for Vegan Peeps for Easter–I hope it’s not too late–before I “hop” on a plane. With the few ingredients on hand, they go together quickly and would be fun to do with kids or a group of friends.
These birds travel nicely nested in a bowl, as I took them to some friends’ house for an Easter dinner last year.
We joke about them looking like Easter Toucans.
Each day this week, I am featuring 4 of my favorite Blooming Platter Valentine’s treats from the past and one brand new one which I’ll post about mid-week, as it may require a quick trip to the grocery store.
I am always surprised when someone says they don’t care for peppermint and chocolate together, as I think it is a divine marriage of flavors, perfect for Valentine’s Day.
If you agree, you will love my Vegan Peppermint and Chocolate Patties. I created these easy and beautiful treats in 2011 to share with our beloved IB and fine arts assistant principal.
I apologize that my photography wasn’t better way back then, two cameras ago, but I think you can get the delectable idea.
About mid-week, I will post my new 2015 creation to give you time to shop for the few ingredients you may not have on-hand like dried apricots, hazelnuts, and espresso powder.
First up are my beautiful Vegan Chocolate Truffles.
These “Peeps” that I created–which I think look more like Toucans!–were inspired by “Ugly Ducklings” sold at a local Mediterranean restaurant called Azar’s.
I wanted to take the store-bought ones to an Easter dinner on Sunday, but the restaurant was closed and I could find no recipe, so I decided to “wing it,” so to speak. Fortunately, the ingredients are few.
I’m so glad I did, as they are super simple and so unique! I apologize for not having them ready to share with you in advance of Easter, but they are nice for spring in general, and certainly next year!
Resting in decorative cupcake liners and tucked, along with softly colored wooden eggs, into their straw nest, they looked peepin’ adorable and were also a rave in the taste department!
They seem especially appropriate for spring, but the ingredients are pretty season-less, so enjoy all year when a festive presentation and a little decadent bite is in order.
Approximately 1/2 cup (or slightly less) almond paste (I purchase it in a can on the baking aisle of the grocery store)
16 pitted dates, opened out (be sure to use fairly moist ones)
1-9 or 10 ounce package vegan chocolate chips
8 whole roasted and lightly salted cashews
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Using your fingers, mold a scant tablespoon of almond paste into an egg shape. Moisten your fingers if your paste seems dry. Then press into one of the dates, pressing another date over the top to encase the almond paste inside, forming an egg or bird body shape. Continue with all remaining dates and almond paste. Cover and refrigerate them for about a half hour. Melt chocolate in microwave in a narrow deep bowl for ease of dipping. (For 9 to 10 ounces, I have found that 1 minute on full power, a slight stir, and then 20 to 30 seconds at full power, followed by a good whisking works in my microwave.) Pierce each date-almond paste ball with a toothpick. One at a time, dip them into the chocolate, covering completely, and place on prepared baking sheet. Remove toothpicks and “patch” hole with a dab of melted chocolate if need be. Then, one at a time, dip half of each cashew into the chocolate and attach it to the top of each “body,” slightly toward one end, with the cashew “beak” curving into the body and touching at each tip–chocolate toward the center–so that it is secure. Refrigerate for a half hour or until chocolate is hardened. Arrange as desired and serve.
Note: you will have some chocolate left over, but when it gets low, it is difficult to coat the date-almond paste balls.
Recipes for fudge abound. But today’s cooks seem to opt for foolproof methods that either call for marshmallow cream or condensed milk (both non-vegan ingredients) to prevent that unappetizing and very disappointing sugar crystallization.
Though the area where I live has come a long way in terms of vegan grocery accessibility, we still don’t have vegan condensed milk that I know of. I’m sure I could order it online, but when I get ready to make fudge, it isn’t with much advance warning. No, it’s a response to an intense and irrepressible craving!
A couple of years ago, Jonesin’ for 7-layer Bars and racking my brain for a condensed milk substitute, it suddenly occurred to me that Cream of Coconut was about the same consistency and sweetness. So, I substituted it, and it worked beautifully! This year, craving some post-holiday holiday fudge–because I never got around to it before Christmas–I wondered if Cream of Coconut could be substituted for condensed milk in a simple fudge recipe.
Indeed it can! And, though I love the taste of coconut, it is undetectable. The fudge just tastes like deep, dense,-yet-silky chocolate with nuances of sea salt and vanilla.
For my fudge redux, I modified a recipe that I found online in a number of ways. In addition to the Cream of Coconut substitution, I also used vegan butter and vegan chocolate: a no-brainer. But then I also added 1/3 cup of cocoa for greater depth and density, a pinch of coarse sea salt because I love the way sugar and salt play together, and, though most fudge recipes don’t call for it, I added a spot of vanilla extract for a little bit of complexity. And I wouldn’t change a thing!
Because vegan chocolate is rather “dear,” I opted for 9 ounces (the size bag that I can purchase here) instead of a pound of chocolate chips/chunks as the original recipe called for. But, certainly, if you don’t mind spending about 10 bucks on the chocolate alone, use a pound or 18 ounces (2-9 ounce bags of chips) and the full can of Cream of Coconut, doubling the other ingredients as well.
Recipes calling for a pound of chocolate are typically made in an 8-inch square pan for a nice thick slab. But, even though I only made about half of a typical recipe, I still used an 8-inch square pan and felt that, especially with a generous coating of crushed peppermint, the slab was plenty thick. This candy is very rich! But if depth is important to you for appearance, just use a 4 x 8″ or 5 x 9″ loaf pan.
Regardless, I think the results are fabulous and hope you agree!
9 ounces vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks
1/4 cup vegan butter
7 ounces Cream of Coconut (not coconut cream, milk, etc.; Coco Lopez is a common brand)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8th teaspoon coarse sea salt
Optional: 3 to 5 ounces soft peppermint sticks, crushed
Oil an 8-inch square pan with non-stick spray or vegan butter and set aside. In the microwave or in a double boiler, melt together vegan chocolate chips/chunks and vegan butter. Remove the bowl or pan from the heat and whisk in Cream of Coconut, followed by cocoa powder, vanilla extract and coarse sea salt. Pour fudge mixture into the prepared pan, lightly smoothing the top. Let cool to room temperature and then either cover and refrigerate until cold and very firm, several hours or over night or, first, sprinkle the top with optional crushed peppermint, pressing lightly with your palm to adhere it to the surface, and then chill. Slice into squares and serve immediately, refrigerating any leftovers.
Since Valentine’s Day is tomorrow(!), I wanted to direct you to three oldies-but-goodies that I created in years past to celebrate the national day of love. Just click on the title to be taken right to the post with that recipe. Happy Valentine’s Day from the Blooming Platter!
Well, if our dog, Huff’s, national Superbowl celebrity hadn’t overshadowed almost all else, I would have made these for our Superbowl party last Sunday and posted the recipe as part of my “Crash the SuperBowl Snack Recipe” countdown during the week leading up to the big event.
But alas, I didn’t make them until Monday night to take to my AP art students’ critique on Tuesday. We call them Critique Treats. However, I also had Valentine’s Day in mind.
These confections are as nutritious and delicious as they are beautiful. And though each one looks like a precious gem, they are super-simple to make. Another of their best features is their texture contrasts: plump chewy dried apricots, silken dark chocolate and crunchy wheat berry flake and flaxseed cereal coating.
This recipe–which is more of a procedure than a true recipe–was inspired by a gift of Uncle Sam Toasted “Original” Whole Wheat Berry Flakes and Flaxseed Cereal from Alisa Fleming, founder of GoDairyFree, who also does some online marketing for Attune Foods. When she asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a couple of cereals, and invited me to choose which ones I wanted, she happened to mention that my choices were good “recipe cereals.” So that got me thinking in terms of what I could do with the cereal besides eat it.
Though eat it I did. I put a little in my mouth and closed my eyes to try to get in “tune” with its distinctive flavor. I thought I detected the pleasantly subtle taste of barley malt, checked the box and, sure enough, there it was in the very short list of wholesome ingredients. Otherwise, Uncle Sam is deeply nutty in flavor. It just tastes wholesome, with pleasant texture contrasts.
So, next I poured a little unsweetened soymilk over it and tasted it before doctoring it up in any way. I decided that–and this admittedly sounds odd–it would be tasty with a sprinkling of both nutritional yeast and natural sugar to create the same sort of savory-sweet appeal of Kettle Corn. I loved it. Be advised, though, that, even without the nutritional yeast and sugar, Uncle Sam’s is calorie dense. I recommend measuring out the cereal so as not too meat too much. Because it is so healthy and tasty–10 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein with less than 1 gram of sugar per serving–it would be very easy to go overboard.
Not being much of a cereal eater–I get a little carried away with it in the house and don’t know when to stop eating–I opted for making the treats mentioned above. Still thinking in terms of dried apricots and nuts from my morning hiking in Back Bay Wildlife Refuge/False Cape described in a previous post, and with a bag of vegan chocolate morsels in the pantry, I decided to dip the apricots halfway into the melted chocolate and then roll them in the cereal. The resulting color contrast of shimmering translucent orange and dark ebony brown chocolate studded with lighter brown flecks was just beautiful.
I can scarcely think of a more appealing nor unique box of Valentine’s treats than these combined with my Peanut Butter Brown Rice Cereal Treats with a Dried Apricot-Almond Surprise.
Vegan Chocolate -Dipped Dried Apricots with Crunchy Coating
Yield: 24 confections
24 plump dried apricots
12 ounces vegan dark chocolate (you won’t need this much, but I like the melted chocolate to be deep so that dipping is easy)
approximately 1/2 cup Uncle Sam’s cereal
Line a baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper and set aside. in a small microwave safe mixing bowl or a 1 quart saucepan set over a double boiler, gently melt chocolate. While chocolate is melting, pour cereal into a small bowl. Holding each apricot between your thumb and forefinger, dip halfway up in the melted chocolate, gently roll in the cereal, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Store in the refrigerator between layers of waxed or parchment paper in an airtight container, but allow to come to room temperature before serving.
For 150+ more recipes for holidays and every day, please check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.
In this recipe, a childhood favorite grows up…just a little. And, because these treats are portable and can sit out indefinitely, they lend themselves to Superbowl noshing, as well as brown bag lunches, backpack snacks, and travel.
As a kid, my mom, sister and I used to make Peanut Butter and Rice Krispie Treats. So when Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free, who also does some online marketing, offered to send me a couple of varieties of cereal from Attune Foods to review and mentioned that Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal was a good “recipe cereal,” I knew what I would make as soon as the package arrived on my doorstep
But, being one who likes to play with her food–that is, adapt original recipes–I started brainstorming about what I could do to make them extra-special. I’m not a big cereal eater, as most are so carb- and calorie-dense and fail to make me fill satisfied, but I do like the idea of cereals with fruit and nuts. And my good pal, Katherine Jackson and I had recently gone on a 7+ mile hike in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park with dried apricots and almonds in tow. So, it occurred to me that I could form the mixture into balls around a piece of dried apricot and tuck a roasted almond into the top. Delicious, nutritious, and cute to boot. (Note: Katherine authored the book, Walking Virginia Beach.)
Eureka! These are so good that the only danger is eating too many. Though reasonably healthy albeit pretty heavy in the sweetener department, they are far from low-calorie. So, make them for your Superbowl or any other gathering–or to give as gifts (they pack and travel well)–and limit yourself to just one…or two. Wouldn’t they be cute as Valentine’s “candy”?
First, before the recipe, the cereal “review”: I loved Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal. It is almost identical to Rice Krispies, but it is made with the whole grains of organic brown rice. And I found Erewhon’s particular crunch to be pleasantly dense, not as light and airy as the Kellogg version. Erewhon is vegan, of course, gluten free, all organic, kosher, low fat, very lightly sweetened with brown rice syrup, and contains no artificial anything. You can buy it at