Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Apple-Peanut Butter-Caramel Bars - Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook (p.242)

Holy Christmas Day! This recipe produces an insanely sweet dessert much like warm apple pie (..."It's like warm apple pie" teehee.


3 cups graham cracker crumbs [If you are truly taking the whole vegan thing to heart, you'll have to be sure that your graham crackers do not contain any honey. I used Keebler Cinnamon Grahams:
1/2 c. canola oil
3 TBL. plain soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

I placed my graham crackers in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag, wrapped the baggie in a dish towel, then proceeded to pound the sh** out of the crackers using a heavy, metal mallet utensil thing. Great way to release frustration!

Crumb topping:
1/2 c. all purpose flour
3 TBL. sugar
2 TBL. canola oil
pinch each of cinnamon, ginger, and allspice [I did not have allspice, so I subbed pumpkin pie mix instead]

Apple filling:
6 granny smiths, cored and sliced thinly (peeling is optional) [I peeled]
1 TBL. canola oil
1/3 c. sugar
3 TBL. flour
1 TBL. water
pinch each of cinna, ginger [Kill all gingers!...Yes, this will the first and only South Park reference in my blog], and allspice [again, I used pumpkin pie mix]

Peanut Butter Caramel:
2/3 c. chunky PB
1/4 c. maple syrup
3 TBL. brown rice syrup
I've assembled all of the ingredients, now what?...
Prepare the Crust:
1) Place grahams in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with oil and mix until moistened. Gradually add in the soy milk. Mix with your fingers; the crumbs should hold together if pinched. Press the wet crumbs into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan to make a crust. [My crust didn't extend up the sides, it was a flat-bottom crust]

Prepare the topping:
1) Place flour, sugar, and spices in a mixing bowl. Drizzle two TBL. of oil into the flour and mix with your fingers until crumbs start to form. Add more oil if necessary [it wans't!]

Prepare the apple filling:
1) Combing all the ingredients in a bowl, coating all the apples. [I advise combing the oil, sugar, flour, water, and spices first to make a paste, even before peeling, coring, and slicing the apples. The peeling, coring, and slicing of the apples should come last, as to avoid the apples from turning brown on you. I found that immediately after slicing the apples, if I coated the slices in the paste, they did not turn brown...would that be the apples oxidizing?...rando question...]

1) Layer the apples onto the crust.
2) Sprinkle with crumb topping. The authors note that the topping won't solidly cover the entire pan; just sprinkle it evenly over the top.
3) Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the apples are tender.

Prepare the Peanut Butter Caramel: [Do this about 40 minutes into the bake time]
1) Mix all the ingredients very well, in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until the mixture "softens and slides of the fork in ribbons" [My mixture never became ribbon-like, rather, it thinned out considerably while hot.]
2) When the bars are done baking [ding!], drizzle the caramel over the top. Please let the dish cool completely before slicing and serving; to speed up the waiting process, its OK to stick the entire pan in the fridge.

Notes: The recipe recommends eating this dish cooled and cut into bars; I say live a little and eat it warm, fresh out of the oven!

I poured my caramel right out of the saucepan and it never really gave that "drizzled" look, rather it just kind of looked gloppy. Of course, it was still delicious, but in the event that presentation matters, I'd recommend putting the sauce into a squirt bottle to achieve that "drizzle" effect. Or alternatively, dumping the caramel into a Ziplock baggie, cutting of a corner, and squeezing it out the opening would result in a more aesthetically-pleasing drizzle.

The sheer amount of oil in this recipe is a cause for concern. I've read that applesauce can sub for oil in baking, so next time I might experiment with this healthier alternative.

JL and SW, I hope you enjoyed this dessert as much as I did!

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