Better than chocolate


I found this bittersweet baking chocolate at a grocery outlet a few weeks ago, and I think it’s too pretty not to obsess over. My eyes might be messing with me, but it seems the sweet lady is carrying mugs of hot cocoa. For me? You shouldn’t have. But hey, come back here, I’ll take one anyway.

Update: Astrid from Hamburg wrote me an email to let me know the little lady happens to be taken from a famous painting by a (wait for it) Swiss painter named Liotard. I had no idea! I should probably switch to books that aren’t novels for a change…

The one below was shot when the sun was just rising (about 630-7am, the previous ones about 830am), isn’t it funny how the difference in light and angle makes the chocolate look much reddish-browner than it really is? Faschinating schtuff.

Speaking of fascinating stuff, chocolate bites. With caramelly nuts in it. I think my blood is made of 95% pure cocoa now. The caramelly nuts represent the last 5% of it.

I know I promised you cookies in the last post, but my sole purpose in life is to keep you on your toes.

Before the recipe, a couple of news tidbits:

• The baking book is already out, a little sooner than planned. Get in touch with Tami or me if you have questions or comments. My contact info is at the bottom of the page: click on MAIL to send me an email. Here’s a little preview recipe because you’re nice.

• Our publisher has decided to give Hearty Vegan a facelift in the shape of a new name and new cover*, so it will be re-released sometime in August. Note that if you already have Hearty Vegan, the deliciously decadent contents will be exactly the same in this new edition.
(*I actually quite liked that cover. I cry now.)

Veg Subs was released in French! I’m très excited about that, for obvious reasons. Si vous avez le livre et des questions mais que l’anglais, c’est pas votre truc, vous pouvez les poser en français sans autre soit dans les commentaires, soit par e-mail (en bas de la page), et je vous répondrai le plus rapidement possible.

• Last but not least (how boring are these MEMEME! updates), my dear friend Mihl ripped me a new one the other day (the pain, the pain) because I didn’t tell her that Vegan Sandwiches was about to be released in German, but the truth is I didn’t even know. So there you go, Vegan Sandwiches, soon to be auf Deutsch. Das ist wunderbar.

Enough with all that, now the recipe.

Nutty Caramel Chocolate Bites:

1 cup (220 g) packed coconut sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) full-fat canned coconut milk (shake the can before measuring)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (only if peanuts aren’t salted)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (60 g) dry roasted salted peanuts
1/2 cup (56 g) slivered almonds
1/2 cup (60 g) dry toasted pecan pieces
12 ounces (340 g) vegan semisweet chocolate chips

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the sugar, coconut milk, and salt (if using) in a medium-size, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes, then stop stirring.
Insert a candy thermometer in the mixture, and boil until the sugar reaches 240°F (115°C), it will take about 6 to 8 minutes. (Use caution as the mixture will be extremely hot, and will bubble up as it cooks!)
Remove from heat; add the vanilla and nuts, stirring to combine.
Pour evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Once sufficiently cooled, place the baking sheet in the fridge to harden the caramel a little more, about 2 hours.
Remove the nuts from the pan, and chop them into smaller-than-bite-size pieces. Set aside.
Line an 8.5 x 6.5-inch (22 x 17 cm) baking pan with parchment paper. (An 8-inch [20 cm] square baking pan will also do.)
Place the chocolate in a double boiler and melt over medium heat, stirring until smooth. If you don’t have a double boiler, simply place a metal mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water. Just be careful not to get any of the water in the chocolate, so that it doesn’t seize.
Pour half of the melted chocolate on the prepared baking pan, and spread it evenly with a spatula, covering the whole surface. Add 2/3 of the total of chopped nuts on top. Pour the rest of the chocolate on top of the nuts, spreading it evenly with a spatula. Drop the rest of the chopped nuts on top. Place the baking pan in the fridge for 1 hour, until the chocolate is set.
Remove the chocolate from the fridge, and chop into squares of approximately 3/4 inch (2 cm), or desired size. It doesn’t matter if all the bites aren’t the same size, because one size doesn’t fit all. Or something. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Yield: Will depend on the size you cut them, but let’s say about 40-60

And now for random pictures…
(You needn’t worry, I don’t use the rusty knife for food stuff.)

  • Rosa says:

    A delicious treat! Your pictures are beautiful, as always.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • Beautiful images,all of them! They work well to demonstrate how the light gets “warmer” as the morning advances. You have found the perfect exposure for chocolate. I’d love to know how much above 5400 K (Kelso temperature scale) the third shot was.

    I always found that the Baker brand made the best chocolate for baking, especially the semi-sweet and the unsweetened ones. I loved that the bars were easily divided into one ounce pieces. I miss them!

  • Ruby says:

    Gorgeous! That is definitely some of the most beautiful chocolate I’ve ever seen, but not quite pretty enough not to eat. Your photography has always been such an inspiration for me, keep up the incredible work.

  • Courtney says:

    Yum! I am totally making this for my brother in law for his birthday next week! Thanks for the recipe :-)

    Courtney

  • Shannon says:

    I love figuring out which windows in my house have the best light at different times of day! It’s always so drastically different.

    Congratulations on the book release! I am sure it will end up on my doorstep soon enough, and I will come up with some excuse about how I pre-ordered it ages ago when Greg asks why there is yet another cookbook entering our already packed house.

    • Celine says:

      Ah yes, the famous “Oops, how did that book get here?” excuse. I plead guilty to doing that too. Thank you for the support, Shannon! I appreciate it a lot.