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Vegas Monsoon

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Dairy Free Almond ‘Milk’ Chocolate Spread

I have a slight obsession with Nutella, which unfortunately has milk in it.  I’ve been playing with mixes and trying things out to see if I could make a spread that really satisfies the Nutella craving.  Today I made a spread with raw almonds that is actually sort of amazing, now if I ever manage to find some hazelnuts I’ll add those in and see what happens!

Almond ‘Milk’ Chocolate Spread:

1c raw almonds, soaked overnight then drained

1/4c raw sugar

1/4c natural cocoa powder

1/4c coconut oil

1tbsp soy lecitin(optional but helps emulsify)

pinch of sea salt

Pulse in blender or food processor until combined, then blend until smooth and creamy.  Refrigerate for best results.  You can roast your almonds if you prefer but I find roasted almonds don’t have that pronounced ‘milk’ flavor I like.

Vegan Nutella!

For those of us that can’t have dairy, the avoidance of Nutella is a sad fact of life(and in moments of weakness I still go for it, then regret it, hah!).  Even the Nutella-esque offbrand ones all contain milk.  My solution?  Make my own Nutella substitute.  And since I love dark chocolate I’ve totally fallen for this.

1c hazelnuts 

1/4c cocoa powder

1/2c powdered sugar(you can substitute with a syrup type sweetener and lessen your oil amount accordingly)

4tbsp coconut oil

1/4tsp salt

I like to roast my hazelnuts lightly first, I just put them into a dry nonstick skillet on medium heat until I smell them(this only takes a couple minutes), shake them a bit and then toss them into the food processor. Put the coconut oil in over the warm hazel nuts and add everything else.  Pulse until very well blended.  Depending on the nuts you use your mix may need a little adjusting, sometimes you’ll get nice fresh and oily hazelnuts and then sometimes get ones that just go to powder in an instant.  If mixture is too dry, add a couple drops of your oil of choice (I like sunflower) and blend well.  I recommend just a drop or two at a time because it’s very easy to over-do the oil, and impossible to go back.  I also like to add a teaspoon of soy lecitin to mine, it stabilizes it and keeps the oil from separating back out but it is not needed.

The stuff tastes like a wonderful, dark chocolate hazelnut truffle.  In fact should you want to make some truffles you can melt some dark chocolate and incorporate it into the mix, then chill to have a firmer texture that you can roll into balls.  Nom.

Candy Apples

Nom nom nom

So I have about two dozen of these.  Who wants some?  

Hard Candy Recipe:

2c white sugar

2/3c corn syrup**

1c water

Put it all in a large heavy bottomed pan, bring it up to a boil and boil hard for 14 minutes.  Don’t mess with it, that causes crystallization and cloudy candy.  Just let it do it’s thing, it will get very glossy and the bubbles will get bigger.  I have always just used a glass of cold water to test my candy - when you drop it into the water and it instantly makes a hard thread it’s ready.  Pull it off the heat, let the bubbles die down and add any flavorings or colors you like, just try to stay away from alcohol based ones since they’re a tad explosive at 300+ degrees.  Dip apples in it or anything else you want to candy coat, you can make lollipops by placing sticks on a greased cookie sheet and slowly pouring a little disc of candy onto them and those little silicone ice trays make rad hard candy molds.  If you have bubbles still, gently spin your apple back and forth and usually they pop.  If they don’t then c’est la vie, it makes them look more homemade and rustic.

For caramel I use a similar recipe and proportions, I just switch out the water for evaporated milk, white sugar for brown, switch butter for corn syrup(okay fine it’s a totally different recipe but same proportions!) and cook until a plop in the cold water forms a hard ball that takes some effort to squish.  I also like to add butter flavoring and some salt to my caramel.  

The chocolate ones are the easiest, you melt chocolate an you slap it all over them.  Fin.  To temper chocolate I’ve always just melted half my chocolate, then threw the other half in the melted chocolate and stirred until it was all melted.  It almost always results in well tempered, glossy chocolate.  And if it doesn’t see above; rustic, homemade, yadda yadda. 

**Corn syrup can be completely omitted; it is mostly to help keep your candy glossy, non cloudy and from crystallizing BUT it is not needed - so if you are corn free just leave it out and boil longer if needed but be careful not to fuss with it too much or you will have grainy candy.