Quite a while back, I put in an order for six kilos of assorted chocolate chips from Plamil foods, a company with a dedicated dairy-free facility. Now, I don’t care if something “may contain traces” of dairy, I’m not severely allergic and it’s the intended ingredients that concern me, however I know it’s a big deal for people with allergies or just preferences not to have their chocolate cross-contaminated by unintended dairy, so I like to support this company, and a big plus for the budget-conscious is that they offer free postage over a certain spend, and their bulk packaged chips work out to a very reasonable price, especially if you catch them during one of their special offer periods.
My order was mainly for dark chocolate of varying cocoa content, however I thought I would give their alternatives to milk and white chocolate a try, so ordered a kilo of each. I’d been hoping to use them for truffles, however they didn’t behave quite as I’d expected them to upon heating. I was able to use the milk-chocolate chips in cookies and brownies in the end (rather than melting for couverture purposes, the rice-milk content makes it a bit too grainy/fudgy textured for that) but the white chocolate seemed to disintegrate when I tried to use it in cookies, leaving puddles of toffee-like goo in their place – perfectly tasty but not what I was expecting, nor very aesthetically pleasing.
In consequence, I’ve had nearly a kilo of white chocolate sitting around unloved for many a moon, and now I’m almost out of dark choc chips I thought some more about whether I’d be able to use the white ones for anything. As it turns out, they work brilliantly in a custard pie/cheesecake type application! I’m not over my pie jag yet, and have eyed up nearly all of the remaining ingredients in my cupboard with a view to pressing them into a pie dish. Being out of nuts (apart from cashews and about a tablespoon of walnut pieces), but discovering some dessicated coconut I thought I’d see how a coconut oat press-in crust would work, which resulted in a very rich tasting pie-crust which holds together surprisingly well.
This recipe is very much a work in progress which I hope to refine, but I was very pleased with the texture of the custard, which is thick and luscious.
Vegan white chocolate cardamon tart
1 cup oat flour
3/4 cup dessicated coconut, whizzed halfheartedly in a blender (that stuff is difficult to turn into flour! Too light, it just flies around the container!)
3 tablespoons marmalade (I expect maple syrup or agave or golden syrup would work pretty well, maybe better)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water.
Pinch of salt (maybe 1/4 teaspoon)
Pie filling ingredients:
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups soya milk
1/2 cup marmalade
1/2 cup cashews
2 tablespoons custard powder
2 or 3 green cardomon pods (Just use the seeds if you’re not sure how well your blender will cope with the husks)
Pinch of salt.
Put the oats and coconuts into a mixing bowl, add the marmalade, oil and water and cut in with a knife until a crumbly dough is formed. Press into a pie-dish or individual tartlet cases and blind bake for about ten minutes in a moderate oven 180/350. This seems to burn quite easily so keep an eye on it to check it’s not getting too done. N.B. I don’t have the ratio of crust to filling quite right yet! You will probably end up with extra crust unless you make it very thick or have a wide but shallow pie dish.
Put all the filling ingredients in a blender and whizz them up until smooth. If you don’t have a high speed blender you might want to soak the cashews for a couple of hours, or boil them for a few minutes to soften them up, and just blend those with some of the milk to start with until they’re a smooth paste.
Pour the custard mix into the pie crust and bake for about another 20 minutes, until just beginning to get a golden top in spots. Keep an eye on it and reduce the heat a notch if it looks like it’ll start burning. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing. The flavours develop after chilling for a while, so make the day before eating, if possible.
£6.57 still remains on day 21, so that’s just over a tenth of my original allowance to see me through the last third of the month. Fortunately, the extra work I’ve been offered later this week is within walking distance so I’ve no call to spend money on bus fare yet.
In case anyone is interested, here’s what I ate today:
Leftover marmalade cinnamon rolls (I didn’t get round to freezing them after all),
Toasted homemade bread, spread with leftover pumpkin seed sauce and mustard, topped with red cabbage coleslaw,
Smoothie made from frozen apple, frozen raw pumpkin (this goes really well in smoothies!), a tablespoon of flax seeds, a spoonful of frozen blackcurrants, a few sour dried cherries and a single piece of frozen rhubarb plus about half a pint of soya milk. This was an excellent combination, though it sadly finished off the expensive cherries. Must get more when February comes!
Lentil bake in a homemade roll with more coleslaw.
The coleslaw was made yesterday. I used half the red cabbage bought on Sunday, a large carrot, and made the dressing from half a cup of pumpkin seeds blended with about a cup of water, a dash of olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar, a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of flax seeds and half a teaspoon of Herbamare seasoning. I was chuffed with how this dressing turned out once I’d blended it up, it worked really well to bring the coleslaw together in terms of both flavour and texture.
The lentil bake was of necessity. I’d tried making rissoles yesterday but hadn’t drained the lentils thoroughly enough and after adding sautéed onions and carrots plus some leftover jarred pasta sauce they were hugely mushy, so I then had to keep adding more and more ingredients to get the mixture to firm up – I started by adding a cup of breadcrumbs, then got some chickpeas out of the freezer and whizzed them to crumbs in the food processor. Still no good! Added in some oats and even more breadcrumbs and finally they were just about okay but by then I had so much mix I would have ended up with about fifty rissoles if I’d made them all up! So today I just shoved the remaining mix in greased Pyrex dishes and baked them until they were starting to go brown. I’ve frozen some, and there are four portions in the fridge, so that’ll keep me going for a while!
The pumpkin pie was to use up the last of the pumpkin puree, continue my experiments with marmalade and experiment with caraway (as I have a 300g bag that until today was unopened). I used roughly the same recipe as last time but added in a teaspoon of caraway and instead of lemon juice and zest I used 2 tablespoons of marmalade.For the press in crust I used walnuts in place of almonds as I’m out of those. Verdict: a success, although on further nibbling I’m not sure the caraway adds much to this. It’s useful to know marmalade stands in well for lemon in this recipe though.
So I bet you’re wondering where all my money went? So am I! I’ve learnt a good lesson this month, which is to not carry the whole month’s allowance around in my wallet (probably kind of obvious, but it was interesting to try a different way from October & November).
I do at least know where some of it went, and that’s the £2.80 I spent on 3 kg strong organic bread flour. It was on special offer at Waitrose when I went with my friends on Saturday to get the free coffees they offer to membership card holders. Ooh, they’re crafty alright! Come for the free coffee and newspapers, leave with a load of stuff you didn’t know you wanted until it beguiled you! I didn’t mean to buy anything after necking the coffee, apart from some potatoes, but my friends were going round the shop and I made the fatal mistake of looking down other aisles besides the produce section. Still, I do feel particularly naked in the cupboard area when there’s no strong wheat flour in there, and I’ve been able to make lots of breadly goodness, including these.
I made dough using about 850g flour, a heaped teaspoon yeast, a teaspoon of salt and about 3/4 pint of lukewarm water. I used about a third of the dough to make these rolls (then the rest to make plain rolls and garlic bread to go with dinner tonight), so there’s only a very rough and ready recipe. I rolled out the dough into an oblong, mixed a heaped teaspoon of powdered cinnamon with about 5 tablespoons of marmalade, then because this is value marmalade they seem to have compensated for the low amount of fruit by using a lot of pectin, making it quite dificult to spread, so I added a squirt of golden syrup. Spread the sweet goop onto the dough, rolled it up, cut it into 8 pieces and squished each one slightly between my palms before putting them on a greased Pyrex dish and leaving them to prove for about 90 minutes. Then I baked them for twenty minutes in a fairly hot oven around 180/350.
We had these for pudding, and I heated them up for around 3 minutes again just to loosen up the sticky bottoms. I made a simple drizzle out of icing sugar and water to go over the top, but they were pretty gooey and delicious even without it. The value marmalade works really well precisely because they’ve been quite stingy with the fruit so it compliments rather than overwhelms the cinnamon. I would make these again, although maybe not at the same time as a load of other bready stuff! I’m going to see how they freeze…