Vegan Oh Henry Bars

Just in time for Halloween! Fudge, peanuts, caramel and chocolate- the whole shebang boys and girls. So consider this little adventure a remix of Oh Henry’s. While there are tons of recipes online for “homemade OH Henry Bars”, none of them use the fudge middle (which I mean, just doesn’t make sense, the fudge is such a key selling point).

Forewarning: If this isn’t a remix in every sense, I don’t know what is. Upon beginning this adventure, I quickly realized I had overestimated my very limited skill set. I’m not going to lie to you, this was a bit of a gong show. When the process showed no signs of improving, I began to record the various steps I took to save the project. Consider this a journey, and a Dirt Mouth take on recipes and kitchen disasters.

8:30pm
I added so much vanilla to the fudge it started to smell like tequila. Not only did I try to ignore the necessary “candy thermometer” for the fudge, I googled an alternative and wasted several spoonfuls of fudge syrup dropping it into a cup of cold water. Apparently “soft ball” temperature is supposed to harden upon contact with cold water?img_0611

8:40pm
Caramel is showing signs of struggle, and the almond oil from the almond butter has leaked all over the floor. Roommate is not pleased. Also, the jar had a little plastic lining on the outside that I did not notice, which will have to be added to my zero-waste jar. Caramel is proving to be a disappointment thus far.

8:45pm
I take back my resentment of the caramel, its doing everything its supposed to be doing. Very cooperative recipe.

8:50pm
Well, either I didn’t reach “soft ball” temperature, or the highly credible science of google lied to me. I let this pot “simmer” for 15 minutes- the recipe says this should take 35 minutes total. I haven’t even hit the 10-15 minutes of hand crank beater-ing. The fudge (still in the pot) is currently sitting in my fridge on top of a hot pad. I’m hoping it will solidify or at least resemble some part of the fudge recipe I used. I fear I’ve gone too far off the path.

8:57pm
Fudge showed no signs of solidifying after five minutes in the fridge. I’ve moved it to the freezer. The caramel was 100% successful (aka Dirt Mouth proof) and sits on the stove waiting to be applied. Its amazing. Have yet to start making the chocolate, mostly because I don’t have enough pots to start making it.img_0623

9:03pm
Unsure if I am impatient or fudge is ruined. No difference after 6 minutes in the freezer, starting to think I am impatient. I’ve put it back on the stove, I want to boil it further before placing it in the fridge overnight. This quick recipe has turned into an overnight ordeal. Caramel sits waiting in the fridge. Trying out the chocolate in t-minus 2 minutes, taking a texting break.

9:10pm
Googled “turning sugar to syrup”, followed by “turning syrup to fudge”. Read a brief section that said if the fudge is too soft, you didn’t cook it at a high enough temperature. Promptly cranked stove-top. Meant to do laundry tonight, getting grumpy. Showing signs of thickening.

9:17pm
Attempting experiment, placing small amount of fudge solution in a container in the freezer. Will attempt patience.

9:20pm
Remaining fudge solution on the stove has turned into a very thick syrup resembling caramel. Taking this as a cue to divide up the solution into further cupcake containers and freeze overnight.

The Next Day:

img_06297:40am
Fudge looks more like maple caramel, hooray for caramel. Not hooray for my fudge. Roving internet for new fudge recipe.

img_06257:49am
I’ve resorted to pintrest.

8:47am
A lot has happened in the last hour. I deemed my fudge solution better suited for caramel, and after pulling my caramel out of the fridge, deemed it better suited for fudge… In the meantime, I had already prepped a new fudge recipe that involved a banana and peanut butter.

img_06338:55am
Despite this seeming completely out of control, I think I am through the worst of it. I have prepped the chocolate which took a whole of 5 minutes and was easy-peasy. Tapioca starch came in very handy for thickening it, though it is still very rich for my taste. All is well, the new fudge solution looks to be promising, and the old fudge solution makes a helluva caramel sauce. Placing all components in the fridge.

The Next Day:

2:13pm
Don’t ask me how, but this worked, this all worked. Thinking about buying a lottery ticket.

So I used this recipe for the first fudge solution which later became my caramel.  Don’t be like me. Get a candy thermometer.

Or, be like me and cook the solution until it looks like caramel. That’ll be because it actually is caramel. Don’t add a lot of vanilla, it never stops smelling like tequila.

I used this recipe for the first caramel solution which later was incorporated in my fudge. This was a great recipe for caramel, but after spending a night in the fridge, it looked and tasted like fudge and even after warming it up in the microwave, it never really regained its caramel-esque texture. If you’re looking for a quick (and healthy caramel), this one’s for you- use immediately.

I used this recipe for the second fudge recipe, thinking (correctly)that my first had been an absolute failure. I then added my first caramel mixture to this one for substance and convenience. My only problem with this recipe is that its not enough peanut  butter/maple and it was too much banana.

The chocolate recipe I found worked out perfectly.

You still with me here?

Caramel That Was Supposed to be Fudge:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup regular coconut milk, shaken and combined
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • vanilla to taste

Mix all of these ingredients together. Bring to a boil, and lower the temperature until it simmers. Cutting out all the back and forth fridge/freezer time (a result of my panic), basically just cook it and stir it occasionally until it reaches a desirable consistency. Science.

Healthy Caramel Used As Fudge (Could Also Be Used As Caramel):

  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup creamy unsalted raw almond butter
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Mix all these ingredients over medium heat until they’re smoothly blended. Be prepared for it to harden and turn sort of weird if you put it in the fridge.

Healthy Fudge That Actually Was Used As Fudge:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (Adam’s PB worked great)
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

I just mixed all of these things together, dumped it in a glass dish and froze it ASAP. I used two small bananas rather than one large, which is probably why I thought the fudge had too much banana… This fudge doesn’t hold up well at room temperature. In fact none of these recipes hold up well at room temperature.

Vegan Chocolate:

  • 1/2 Cup Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Natural Cocoa Powder
  • 1/8 Cup Pure Maple Syrup 

Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Taste test frequently. You’re going to start to notice that I really go for the recipes that involve zero instructions. My only issue with this heavenly (yet incredibly rich) recipe is that it didn’t microwave well the next day when I actually applied it to the Oh Henry’s. It did this weird bubbling marshmallow thing. I panicked and added more coconut oil. Seemed to fix the problem.

img_0647

Oh Henry Bars:

  1. Take the fudge out of the freezer and cut it into bars.
  2. Shove peanuts into the fudge, you’ll notice it softens pretty fast.
  3. Heat the caramel in the microwave and drizzle it on top of the peanut-covered fudge bars.
  4. Let the caramel cool for a few minutes.
  5. Smear the chocolate on the bars, the chocolate is better prepared immediately before doing the bars- it’s smoother.
  6. Freeze the bars, and store them in the freezer.

Recommendation: Own/buy a damn candy thermometer.

Zero Waste Pumpkin Spice

I’ll spare you the “white-girl, starbucks” jokes and cut to the chase.

Pumpkin spice is good shit. Not only is it fundamental for pumpkin pie, but it just compliments about anything baking-wise you could come up with. Pancakes, banana bread, cookies, and muffins- trust me, this spice does it all.

But being zero-waste, I had a dilemma. I couldn’t find the stuff without any waste- I even tried to be more relaxed and look for a recyclable plastic container to no avail; they all came with trash worthy seals. So I roved the internet and I roved the local grocery store bulk bins to see what I could do. Save-On foods (a.k.a. the NIRVANA of bulk bins) had all the necessary spices and the internet being the handy tool it knows itself to be came through with several “recipes”. Here goes!

Prep Time: 20 minutes (if you’re like me and accidentally inhale the ground ginger, thus sneezing for approximately 17 minutes)
Cook Time: Literally 30 seconds (can’t believe you guys made me include this, super weird of you, you literally just stir or shake it)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoons of ground cloves

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Seeds

Ok, so a few years ago, a roommate of mine left behind this Pampered Chef caramel sprinkle. The only reason I’m providing the link for this is because I’m pretty sure their caramel sprinkle is the best thing I have ever had on pumpkin seeds. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and despite this bottle still going strong, I know such a good thing can’t last forever. So this week, I tried making my favorite halloween snack with brown sugar, olive oil, and salt. Annnnnd maybe a few dashes of cinnamon. You can’t go wrong with cinnamon.

You’re going to hate me because I’m not going to be able to give you exact measurements because
A.) How the hell am I supposed to know how many pumpkin seeds your pumpkin is going to have and what if they’re bigger than the number I give you?
B.) I’m really, really, bad at keeping track of measurements.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients

  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Rinse and dry seeds. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Start with a very small amount of olive oil, and continue adding until  all the seeds glisten slightly. I don’t enjoy an excess of oil, and I feel as though the extra oil might prevent the sugars from sticking when they melt.
  3. Now here’s the tricky part. I would recommend mixing the salt and the sugars before placing them on the seeds, that way you can get the balance right. I didn’t add enough salt to my first batch. Start with a tablespoon of brown sugar, 1/3 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/3 a teaspoon of salt. Go from there.
  4. Mix thoroughly and remember- you don’t want to entirely coat the seeds, you just want to give them some flavor. If you wanted diabetes you should’ve looked at my Vegan Oh Henry Bar recipe.
  5. Spread seeds evenly across a cookie sheet- no need to grease the pain, the oil on the seeds should do it for you. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Fun Fact: You can do this with spaghetti squash seeds too!

A note on the feature picture:
I made a huge- I mean HUGE- batch of pumpkin seeds because I collected unwanted seeds from a community pumpkin carving event. I used a very, very small amount of sugar because I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet seeds, though I know many people who wold prefer them to have more seasoning. I also forgot them in the oven and they burned a little. Yum, extra flavor.

Happy Haunting!
The Dirt Mouth

Vegan Shepherds Pie

Okay, so from the feature picture, you can already tell that my mashed potato portions are way off. This was no accident. I love mashed potatoes.

Like most of the recipes I feature, they can be modified for different diets. This one, for example, could easily be paleo, without the lentils and with meat instead of a mushroom spiced replaced.

I was also too lazy to open a can of corn, which I’m sure would be a great addition to this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes (pretty sure there’s a specific kind to use, but I just grabbed whatever from the grocery store)
  • A decent amount of mushrooms (it depends on how big you want the layer to be, right? I used an 8″ cast iron pan for frying the layers and baking)
  • 1 cup of brown lentils (cooked prior to use or directly from can after being drained)
  • Carrots
  • Almond milk (for the mashed potatoes, can use any sort of dairy replacement/alternative)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Nutritional yeast flakes
  • Optional: Additional layers like corn,  or any vegetable really.
  • Optional: For a sweet twist, try using mashed yams or sweet potatoes. For a soft touch of sweetness add a layer of cooked beets (the color alone is gorgeous).

Instructions:

  1. Cut and boil potatoes until soft (leave the skins, they won’t kill you).
  2. Cut and fry mushrooms with lentils, salt & pepper, and rosemary. Again, spice to your personal taste. Fry until mushrooms and wholly cooked and sizzling.
  3. Slice and boil carrots.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Layer carrots over mushroom/lentil fry. Here you would also layer any other vegetables, which should be cooked and soft before adding.
  6. Mash potatoes once cooked, spicing with salt and pepper, and adding a dash of almond milk to make them more creamy. I don’t really care if they’re chunky, but that might just be me. Also I have to use a cup to mash the potatoes because I’m working in a student kitchen and also, it works fine, so leave me be.
  7. Layer potatoes on top of everything, and sprinkle a heavy layer of nutritional yeast flakes on top. This is the all-time best cheese replacement ever in case you didn’t know.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until funny popping sounds (lentils bursting) start coming from the oven.

At this point, if you find yourself starting to hate that I don’t put exact measurements all the time, I need you to understand something. First off, I do apologize. Second off, I don’t really apologize because I don’t use measurements when it comes to proportioning layers/spicing. Taste test like its your day job, people. Trust me. A lot of the time you can eye-ball these sorts of measurements, and if you’re not used to cooking like that- isn’t learning new things fun?

All the best,
The Dirt Mouth