Dairy-free Pain au Chocolat – New Improved Recipe

 

One of the true joys of a French holiday are morning trips to the boulangerie to buy fresh crusty baguettes, croissants and pain au chocolat for breakfast. Every morning, little S would come and buy the fresh bread and pastries first thing and then look enviously at our pain au chocolat on the breakfast table. So I made a promise to make a batch on return.

Since last summer’s wonderful holiday in Corsica, I’ve got in the habit of regularly making friendly pain au chocolat for the girls. It’s been a mixed blessing, they’ve got rather used to freshly made viennoiserie for breakfast, so I end up making them often which takes time, but my croissant dough skiIlls have improved dramatically.

This new improved recipe has been gradually tweaked over the last year and I think we’ve finally got a jolly authentic, flaky and ‘buttery’ dough. The lamination has proved the tricky part of the recipe. Besides being the most time consuming aspect, I suffered for months with the layers simply disappearing which is really demoralising when you’ve spent hours putting them there in the first place! After some in-depth research it seems the crucial detail for lamination is that the fat content of the ‘butter replacement’ has to be around 82%. It’s that precise. In the UK our dairy-free margarines are predominantly water-based with fat coming way down the list of ingredients. If you use such a margarine the water just makes steam and you get a bready dough rather than buttery flaky layers. Makes total sense doesn’t it.

After much experimentation I’ve found that it works best to combine a mixture of dairy-free margarine such as Pure with a baking spread such as Stork (in the foil wrapper) and a touch of flour. This combination makes a great fat-rich butter substitute which also provides the right ‘buttery’ flavour.

Surely a good flaky Pain au Chocolat is possibly the most perfect breakfast item ever ūüôā

Dairy-free Homemade Pain au Chocolat

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 16

500g strong bread flour

90g caster sugar

10g instant yeast

10g salt

100ml dairy-free milk (I used Oatly)

250ml cold water

150g dairy-free margarine

150g baking fat

1 tbsp flour

160g dark dairy-free chocolate chopped into batons

a sprinkle of caster sugar

melted dairy-free margarine for brushing

  1. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, salt and yeast.
  2. Pour in the dairy-free milk and water and stir. Once come together, knead well to form a soft and springy dough (about 5-10 minutes).
  3. Cover and leave to rise for a couple of hours
  4. Meanwhile, put the dairy-free margarine on to some cling film, sprinkle with the flour and then top with the baking fat (making a kind of sandwich affair) and loosely wrap. Roll out to a square shape, and place in the fridge or freezer to harden.
  5. Once the dough has risen, turn out onto a floured surface and knead until a smooth dough. Cut a cross on top of the dough ball and roll out the leaves (see photo below)
  6. Place the cooled ‘butter’ in the middle and fold the four flaps over the ‘butter’ making sure it is entirely encased with dough.
  7. Roll out and fold into thirds twice
  8. Place back in the fridge for thirty minutes or so, then roll out and fold back into thirds twice more. Repeat two or three times.
  9. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes more.
  10. Roll out to form a large rectangle. Cut into four long strips, halve each.
  11. Place a line of chocolate at one narrow end and roll over to cover. Add another chocolate baton and continue rolling up.
  12. Loosely cover with cling film and let rise on the baking tray for 30 minutes.
  13. Brush with the melted margarine and sprinkle with caster sugar
  14. Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes 

 

Homemade Crunchie Bars – dairy-free

 

Thank Crunchie it’s (almost) Friday!

Whilst the range of dairy-free chocolate is getting better all the time, it pales in comparison to the ‘regular’ chocolate selection in any shop. So regular blog followers will know that every now and then I try to experiment with an everyday and iconic bar to enable the girls to get a taste of what their friends eat.

The most popular so far have been my dairy-free KitKats and Creme Eggs¬†– I was pretty pleased with both of those (excuse the boast). This time I thought I’d experiment with Crunchie bars, yet another¬†‘classic’¬†and a childhood favourite.

Homeycomb in itself is pretty easy to make, and it’s lots of fun watching the caramel turn into a bubbling volcano of sugary foam ( but do be extremely careful as honeycomb is burning hot).

It’s also very easy to make uneven shards of honeycomb but I wondered how to make it into even bars like real crunchies. The answer is to pour the honeycomb into oiled silicone chocolate bar moulds and once set you have the most perfect honeycomb bars. Not that it makes any difference to the taste but¬†as my goal is to recreate the original as best I can, it seems important.

I know original Crunchies are coated in milk chocolate but the dark chocolate contrasts really well¬†with the ever-so-sweet honeycomb and actually makes a far better bar. Have fun dipping the honeycomb into the chocolate… messy but satisfying.

Dairy-free Homemade Crunchie Bars

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, can be gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 12 bars

200g caster sugar

 4 tbsp golden syrup

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150g chocolate, melted

  1. Oil the chocolate moulds, or a baking tray with sides.
  2. Gently melt together the sugar and syrup (in a high sided saucepan which has plenty of spare space) until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a bubble and simmer until it turns lightly golden (this won’t take long).
  3. Remove from the heat and pour in the bicarbonate of soda, stir briefly to ensure the whole thing is foaming.
  4. Pour into the moulds or onto the baking tray. Leave to set.
  5. Un-mould or break into shards.
  6. Melt the chocolate and dip the bars/shards to totally cover.

 

Parkin

 

IMG_5037

Ever heard of a Parkin? Well you probably have in the UK, and most certainly if you’re from Yorkshire. It’s a sticky ginger, syrup, oat and molasses flavoured sponge that is traditional at this time of year. It’s most commonly served around bonfire night, when the sweet spicy sponge is likely to warm the cockles after a bracing evening standing in the cold. Definitely¬†well worth making for November 5th or any wintery occasion!

I’d read about Parkin more than eaten it, and it seems that in its most authentic and traditional forms, it’s egg-free – hooray! But try as I might, no egg-free recipe could be found. Maybe most people think they might as well add eggs to a sponge mix to make it ‘better’? It’s funny because people make such presumptions – cake can only be nice if its made with eggs and milk/butter – but having eaten both varieties, I can safely say that I prefer the ones without. They are lighter, more delicate, with no discernible eggy-flavour. I reckon others would also think the same, if only they opened their eyes and gave them a go!

Despite being resolutely egg-free, I can’t say this Parkin is truly authentic – it’s devised to suit my taste with far less treacle than usual as I find the flavour hugely over-powering. Sorry to any Yorkshire folk out there, I apologise for messing around with your traditions! Feel free to up the molasses and reduce the syrup for a ‘darker’ flavour and do let me know how it turns out, maybe I’m missing a trick in being a molasses scaredy-cat!?

dairy-free egg-free parkin
Parkin

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

IMG_5038

2 cups plain flour

1 cup soft brown sugar

1 large handful of oats

2 tsp ground ginger

2/3 cup dairy-free margarine, melted

1 cup golden syrup

1 tbsp treacle or molasses

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp vinegar

1/4 pint dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 3
  2. Line a square baking tin with parchment and grease the paper or it will stick!
  3. Mix together the flour, sugar, oats and ginger in a bowl and make a well in the centre
  4. Gently melt together the spread, syrup and treacle (do not let it boil) and pour into the well
  5. Sprinkle the bicarbonate onto the syrup mix and then sprinkle the vinegar over that. The bicarbonate will fizz and bubble. Pour the milk over the top and mix to form a very wet and sloppy batter
  6. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until golden, risen and a knife cones out clean
  7. Once cool, cut into cubes.

IMG_5033

IMG_5039

Millionaire’s Shortbread

millionaires shortbread, dairy-free, egg-free

Millionaires shortbread, or chocolate covered caramel shortbread – is it a thing all round the world? Here in the U.K. you seem to get it everywhere, its so often the luxury baked item by the till in sandwich shops, right next to the brownies and flapjacks. It’s very popular, and rightly so, anything as naughty as caramel and chocolate topped shortbread must be rather tempting.

I’ve made homemade versions before but the caramel tended to get a little too chewy, it really needs to be set but gooey – you don’t want a toffee like texture. This recipe¬†uses soya condensed milk which gives an extra creaminess to the caramel and perfect gooeyness – I’d actually advise to set the caramel in the freezer for an hour or so to enable a perfect slice. Be warned though, this shortbread is very rich so small squares should suffice!

Millionaire’s Shortbread

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan millionaires shortbread

for the shortbread:

dairy-free shortbread

225g plain flour

175g dairy-free margarine

80g caster sugar

  1. Pour the flour and sugar into a bowl and rub in the margarine until you have formed a soft dough. Or pulse the mixture in a food processor until a dough forms.
  2. Press into a lined baking tray and bake at 160 degrees Centigrade for 30-40 minutes until lightly golden
  3. Cool

Next make the caramel:

caramel, dairy-free, nut-free

330g tin of condensed soya milk

100g dairy free margarine

100g golden syrup

  1. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until turned lightly golden and thickened.
  2. Pour over the shortbread base and place in the fridge to setchocolate over caramel
  3. Once cool, melt 150g dark dairy-free chocolate and pour over the caramel layer. Evenly spread and leave to set.
  4. If possible place in the freezer to firm up the caramel and they cut into small bars.

vegan caramel chocolate shortbread

Homemade Toffee Crisp Chocolate Bars

 

vegan homemade toffee crisp

While dairy-free chocolate bars have improved enormously in the last few years thanks to brands like Moo Free and supermarket own brands, they’re still not especially exciting or child friendly. Most of the more interesting¬†varieties are either extremely difficult to come by or they’re suitable for vegans but not if allergic to milk.

The girls are always utterly delighted when I make exciting chocolate bars, so to add to previous KitKat and Twix recipes already on my site, here is rather thrilling Toffee Crisp recipe. Sweet caramel coated Rice Krispies encased in smooth rich chocolate, who could resist that? The Toffee Crisp was certainly one of my favourites while growing up. Somehow the Rice Krispies remain crunchy and are a fabulous sweet and crispy centre to the bar.

dairy-free nut-free toffee crisp chocolate bars
My recipe is slightly different to the original Nestle bar as it is enrobed in smooth, dark chocolate, not sweet creamy chocolate. Feel free to mix that up, I just find that dairy-free milk chocolate gives less of a smooth shiny end product¬†and as my girls are more used to dark than milky flavours, it’s what they prefer.
It may seem to be a total pain to make your own chocolate bars but as long as you have a little time and some silicone moulds they really are pretty simple, and you do feel very satisfied in the end. In fact, these bars went down so well that I’ve been requested to make a bubbly Aero next – I have¬†no¬†idea how I can manage that?

coating chocolate moulds

Homemade Dairy-free Toffee Crisp Bars

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, can be gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

homemade dairy-free toffee crisp chocolate bars, vegan

makes about 8

100g dairy-free chocolate

40g dairy-free margarine

125g caster sugar

Dash of water

30g Rice Krispies (use gluten-free if you need)

  1. Melt and temper the chocolate using these guidelines
  2. Coat the silicone moulds with two layers of chocolate, leave to set in a cool place
  3. Melt together the sugar, margarine and water. Bring to a boil and cook until it just turns golden, between 260 and 265 degrees Centigrade. Make sure it doesn’t turn too dark of it’ll taste bitter. Pour in the Rice Krispies and stir so they are totally covered in the caramel.
  4. Fill the chocolate coated moulds with the caramel Rice Krispies and leave to harden. Once set, coat with another layer of chocolate, making sure all the gaps are filled.
  5. Once set, turn out of the moulds and trim off any edges. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

making toffee crisp bars

Cheats Easy Danish pastries

cheats danish pastries, dairy-free

I’m always looking for exciting new breakfast options, and if they can be made in a flash then all the better! Our go to treat breakfast is pancakes, but variety is the spice of life and someone’s you need something extra special. These cheats Danish pastries are total genius; incredibly simple to make but also drop dead gorgeous to look at and devour. Besides there are multiple  varieties at your fingertips. Here I’ll show you oozy chocolate bear paws, sweet jammy windmills.

making easy egg-free danish pastries

Whilst it would be preferable to make the Danish dough, sometimes life gets in the way and the only way is the cheats way. This recipe using shop bought dairy-free puff pastry gives a great approximation of labour intensive laminated, yeast risen Danish dough. The fillings are simplicity itself – one single ingredient of choice, wrapped in the dough in a traditional shape, brushed with dairy-free milk and sprinkled with sugar. The only other adornment is a possible drizzle of icing , but only if you want to!

easy dairy-free danish pastry

Cheats Danish Pastries

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan chocolate danish

1/2 block shop bought, dairy-free puff pastry

dairy-free milk for brushing

caster sugar for sprinkling

for the fillings:

dairy-free dark chocolate, roughly chopped

jam

for decoration:

icing made from icing sugar and water

Add cocoa powder for chocolate pastries 

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade/gas mark 7
  2. Roll out the pastry.
  3. For chocolate bear paws: cut into rectangles, fill with a line of chopped dairy-free chocolate and then fold over and seal all edges. Cut indentations into the sealed edge. Fan out.
  4. For the jam pinwheels. Cut a square, then cut diagonally in from each corner, fold up one of each side the the triangles and press down to form a windmill shape. Dollop on a tsp of jam.
  5. Brush the pastries with dairy-free milk and sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and risen.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and then decorate with melted chocolate or icing.

vegan easy pain au chocolat