The song: “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles (lyrics)
The connection: Is chocolate, with a southern pecan twang.
For this song, I wanted to make something both chocolaty and southern. (Though I suppose a fried peanut butter and banana sammie would have worked just as well!) Chocolate Pecan Pie is the obvious choice, but I didn’t want to be clichéd (or inadvertently eat an entire pie all by my little lonesome. Hey, it’s been known to happen!) After a little searching, I found this recipe for Salty Chocolate Pecan Candy on My Recipes. So Salty Chocolate Pecan Candy it is!
Ah, but there’s a catch: vegan white chocolate. Anyone who’s been vegan through a holiday season or two is familiar with this holy grail of vegan baking ingredients. Rare and expensive!
The first bar to come up in my search was The White Bar by Vegan Organica. A 3.5 ounce bar sells for $6.99 on Vegan Essentials. As soon as I saw the price, my jaw dropped: I’d need four bars for the recipe! I’ve spent a tidy little sum of money on foods and utensils that I don’t usually have on hand for this month’s Vegan MoFo meals – but $28 plus shipping on chocolate alone? Ugh, there’s no way I could justify that.
Luckily, some of the other hits were recipes for vegan white chocolate. Time to get my experiment on!
For this recipe, I needed to buy cocoa butter, soy milk powder (already on my list for a few other recipes), and a candy bar mold. The first two ingredients were easy enough, but I found myself stymied by the bar mold. For a newb like myself, buying an appropriately sized candy mold can prove a daunting prospect, since manufacturers don’t go into much detail on product listings or seem to have a standard way of describing things. (Sometimes I’m not even sure how many molds I’m buying! I NEED TWENTY LIFE-SIZED VULVAS AND I NEED THEM NOW!)
All in all, vegan white chocolate is shockingly easy to make! Just microwave the cocoa butter (gently, it’s delicate!), stir in the other ingredients, pour into a mold, and chill. My first batch came out perfectly, though my second was a little grainy. Maybe I should have cleaned the bowl between batches one and two? I keep thinking that the batter clinging to the bowl interacted less than favorably with the melting cocoa butter, somehow preventing it from becoming as smooth as it could have been.
Whatever, I’m not too concerned; now that I know how many batches fill a mold, I won’t be running into that problem again anyway!
Grains or not, it was still delicious.
Now for the pecan candy. As easy as the white chocolate is, the chocolate pecan candy is even more of a no-brainer: toast the pecans, assemble the dark and white chocolate in a checkerboard pattern on a shallow pan, and bake until melted. Swirl the chocolate; on go the pecans and salt. Chill and you’re done!
Unfortunately, the white chocolate didn’t quite melt as expected. As it got hotter, the liquids and solids separated from each other: the liquids, running to one end of the pan whilst the solids stayed put. Possibly this is because I baked the chocolate longer than recommended. You see, I thought that the dark chocolate would liquefy and even out as it melted – but it mostly retained it original shape! So I had no idea it was done until I lost patience and poked it with a toothpick. By that time, the white squares were mostly grainy bits, with airy cells separating them, like in a sponge. All the melty bits had migrated to the sides of the bar.
I might have gotten better results if I’d stuck to the recommended bake time – but I suspect that the white chocolate still would have separated a bit. It started happening so soon in the process. I’m curious to see if the store-bought chocolate does the same, just not thirty dollars’ worth of curious.
Though I despaired, I swirled the chocolate as best I could, then added the nuts and salt and popped the whole shebang in the fridge.
The next morning, a pleasant surprise awaited me. While it’s nowhere near as pretty as the non-vegan version, it’s still pretty tasty: sweet and salty, with toasted pecan goodness for protein! The grainy-but-with-air bits feel weird on the tongue, but they still have a nice flavor. Overall, not a rousing success – but not the epic failure I’d feared, either.
On another note, I’ve started using some of my old dresses and long skirts as “table dressing” for my food photos. What do you think?
True story: as I was carrying this dress slung over my shoulder, I passed the mister in the hallway. He shot me a strange look.
“What, don’t you like my dress?”
“Oh, I thought it was a Pilgrim costume.”
Snap! Must’ve been the collar.