Flour Hour: Vegan Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares (Gluten-Free)

I attended a couple of committee meetings last week, during which I shared my vegan almond cookies. A fellow attendee who can’t eat dairy was especially fond of them, and was excited when she discovered I’d posted the recipe. Meanwhile, I’d sent out an email to my Renaissance classes reminding them about this week’s final play-focused tutorial and asking if anyone had any requests for goodies—one of them suggested I repeat some chocolate peanut butter pieces I’d made last month. My dairy-free friend messaged me a few days later, informing me she’d successfully made the almond cookies, and that she was delighted in having found yummy treats she could stomach. With all that in mind, I decided to experiment a little on the previous chocolate peanut butter (pseudo-)squares, and make these Flour Hour goodies dairy-free. They also happen to be vegan and gluten-free, so I promptly texted a celiac friend about the noms, and she was happy to pick some up from my house after work.

All of which is to say: there were many circumstances and powers of awesomeness at work in the creation and production of this week’s Flour Hour (which happens to be a misnomer, but hey).

Yes yes yes.

Yes yes yes.

These were very, very simple to make, required no baking, took about 40 minutes of meandering, and left me with only two bowls, a spatula, and a few spoons to wash. And they’re so glorious I had to give them away for fear of eating them all.

Ingredients for the base, ready to be mixed.

Ingredients for the base, ready to be mixed.

All the ingredients you need. This time, I used vegan substitute for butter and vegan dark chocolate.

All the ingredients you need. This time, I used vegan substitute for butter and vegan dark chocolate.

This is how I double-boil. (See notes below for more details.)

This is how I double-boil. (See notes below for more details.)

Yes, it took a lot of restraint not to just eat this with the spoon.

Yes, it took a lot of self-control not to eat this with the spoon.

The base, all mixed.

The base, all mixed.

Peanut butter base is in the tin!

Peanut butter base is in the tin!

Spreading the chocolatey goodness.

Spreading the chocolatey goodness.

20 minutes later, it's all cut and ready to eat!

20 minutes in the fridge, and it’s all cut and ready to eat!

Ingredients:
(1 cup = 250ml)

Base:

  • 200 grams (approximately) peanut butter (both smooth and crunchy will do—I estimated this amount by scooping it out of a full jar and checking the remaining level; this time, I used crunchy)
  • 3-4 heaped tablespoons (roughly) butter or butter substitute (for vegan/non-dairy—see dietary notes below)
  • ¼ cup dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup icing sugar

Chocolate topping:

  • 250-300 grams good quality chocolate (you can go with a mix of milk and dark if you’d prefer—I went with dark vegan/non-dairy. See dietary notes below)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon butter (room temperature) or butter substitute

Method:

  1. Measure out all the base ingredients and dump into a mixing bowl.
  2. Break up the pieces of chocolate, scoop out the butter/substitute, and start melting the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Do this either by double-boiling or in the microwave. (See notes)
  3. While the chocolate is melting, mix the base ingredients until mostly incorporated. Poke at any remaining brown sugar lumps—it’s no biggie if they remain, as long as they’re not massive.
  4. Line a square or rectangular tin with parchment paper. I used my Ikea 25cm x 19cm tin.
  5. Scoop the base into the tin. Press with your fingers until even.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture on top of the base (be careful: your chocolate bowl will be hot!). Even with the back of a spatula or spoon.
  7. Place goodies in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes, then lick all the bowls and spoons, do the dishes, pretend to conduct some Beethoven, and stretch your neck. You want the chocolate to set enough to cut, but not so much that it hardens completely. The top should be dry to touch, but retain a fingerprint if you press firmly.
  8. Cut into whatever-sized pieces you prefer, then pop back into the fridge for another 5-10 minutes. At this point, you can either keep the squares/rectangles in the fridge in an airtight container until needed, or eat them all.

My batch yielded 30 uneven-but-heavenly rectangles.

Notes:

To double boil: Fill a frying pan or saucepan with water around 1cm high, put another bowl on top, and heat the pan. As the water begins to boil, the chocolate in the second bowl will begin to melt—stir this occasionally until everything’s beautifully smooth and combined. (I don’t have a microwave, so I use this method.)

To microwave: Put the pieces of chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, and zap for about 30 seconds. Take out, stir, and zap again. Repeat until there are a few small, un-melted lumps left—stir those lumps until they, too, melt into gooey goodness. Be careful not to burn the chocolate accidentally.

Dietary: If butter isn’t an issue, use unsalted butter. Room temperature is best because it’s a lot easier to mix by hand. I’ve made mine with both butter and a vegan substitute called Pure Sunflower, and both were very good. For the chocolate, I’ve used a mixture of half-half dark and milk chocolate, as well as 74% chocolate (Tesco’s is dairy-free and vegan). I personally prefer the latter because I love dark chocolate.

And then I ate them and all was well.

And then I ate them and all was well.

Please do let me know if you get a chance to make these, and if you end up demolishing them within a day—I won’t judge!

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