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.)

  • ameyfm says:

    yay!! I am super excited to get my hands on your whole grain baking book. That is totally up my alley. Such beautiful pictures. :)

  • Josiane says:

    Ton nouveau livre n’est pas encore disponible de ce côté-ci de la frontière, mais ça ne saurait tarder; le 1er avril viendra bien vite de toute façon – yay! Avant de réaliser que je ne pouvais plus manger de gluten, j’étais tellement contente de savoir que ce livre allait exister… et je le suis toujours! Je vais l’acheter dès que j’en aurai la chance et exercer mes muscles de conversion de recettes. :)

    Aussi, un autre yay pour la traduction française de Vegan Subs! De toute évidence, je n’en ai pas personnellement besoin, mais je suis heureuse de voir que les livres de recettes végétaliennes se font plus nombreux en français. Ça ne pourra que faciliter les choses pour répandre le végétalisme dans notre communauté linguistique. Hourrah!

    Ces petites bouchées mariant noix caramélisées et chocolat sont bien tentantes… Faudra que je les fasse lors d’une occasion spéciale, quand il y aura du monde avec qui les partager, sinon ce serait bien dangereux que je les mange toutes dans le temps de le dire!

  • How gorgeous are those chocolate block pieces! She certainly does look like she’s offering you delicious mugs of hot chocolate :)
    Love the Bites, they look so chunky and toothsome with all the nuts. I could definitely go for a handful right now.

  • Mihl says:

    I would never ever kick your ass. Never. I hope many people buy the German edition. I know that quite a few already have the original.

    • Celine says:

      Which reminds me, did you ever hear back from the lady who had some issues with her non-diluted creamed coconut?

  • KellyC says:

    OOOOH! You know how much I love those little squares! I think I ate more of them than Ryan which is saying something with chocolate. I love the little squares of chocolate. The little bonneted lady on them is too cute.