One of the very first things I ever made for Cameron was a peanut butter slice. It was mostly born of a couple of chocolate failures in my early baking days. The chocolate I was working with seized and I didn’t want to waste it, so I whipped it up into some sort of icing. I raided the cupboards for whatever else I had on hand and made a peanut butter slice to go beneath the icing. I thought it was a bit rubbish, but he loved it and regularly nags me for another.
This weekend just gone was Father’s Day in Australia, and we’d planned a gathering with Cam’s immediate family. We had a gorgeous lunch at an Indian restaurant and went to his brother’s place for dessert and chatter. All the ladies usually bring some dessert or munchies along. I was making a mudcake for his dad and figured I should also bring something vegan so his brother and sister-in-law could eat it too. Veganising a basic peanut butter slice seemed an easy way to finally give Cameron the slice he wanted while creating something everyone could enjoy.
There’s not a lot of animal dairy that needs to be substituted out of the recipe, but by far the hardest task was the biscuit base. I had a lot of trouble finding vegan chocolate biscuits that didn’t look bland and sickly or contained palm oil. So I trudged off to the regular biscuit isle of my supermarket and grabbed a packet of my favourite chocolate biscuits. Whenever I’m reading the ingredients looking for vegan products I feel like I lose my ability to read, but none so much as in that moment. I thrust a packet at Cam and got him to read it over, while I re-read the packet for the 7th time muttering ‘how did I not know this?’
Arnotts Chocolate Ripple Biscuits are vegan. It was the most exciting news all week. I use them in a tonne of desserts. Not only do they have the most incredible flavour, but at $2 for a 250g packet they are far cheaper than any vegan-marketed product I can find.
I quite happily blitzed up a whole packet of them and combined them without enough soy spread to bind them into a base, feeling rather excited about the whole thing.
Next came the peanut butter layer. I’m yet to see a brand of peanut butter with dairy in it, so I love turning to it when making vegan desserts. I opted for the crunchy variety for the slice as I just liked the textural aspect.
Then for the top layer, I made a chocolate ganache. This part I was a bit concerned about as the only animal-dairy-free cream I had on hand was coconut and I didn’t want that in the flavour profile. I made it with almond milk instead and just hoped it would set.
I didn’t have to worry, it turned out perfectly. On top I garnished them with chocolate coated peanuts. I had a lot of trouble finding vegan chocolate coated anything for less than a terrifying price, so I simply coated the peanuts in chocolate myself: cheaper and a lot nicer.
Normally chocolate that is dark enough to be vegan is far too dark for my tastes. I find it really bitter and hard to swallow. But the peanut butter layer is quite sweet, so it helped balance it out.
When we all sat down to our dessert-y feast a couple of people were eyeing off the size of the slices and declaring they’d have to go halvies. They look so rich, and after our massive Indian banquet we were all pretty stuffed. But as we got to them we found that that very balance made them a lot more refreshing on the palate and all too easy to finish. Halfway through, Cam’s brother declared to his wife and promised recipient of the second half that he was going to finish it all and later polished off a second slice.
You can quite easily make this dairy-free or not. If you don’t have particular dietary requirements to cater to you can just as easily make this with butter and cream instead.
|Peanut Butter Slice
|250g chocolate ripple biscuits
50g soy spread, melted
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup icing sugar
60g soy spread
100ml almond milk
200g dark chocolate, chopped