There are numerous ways in which New Zealand aggrieves me, both on a macro and a micro level, but on a very micro level, something that makes me wildly irate is how expensive vegan white chocolate is here. And should you forgo paying the rent, or feeding your family, to instead spend that money on a bar of vegan white chocolate: it doesn’t even taste that great.
Today’s recipe doesn’t solve this problem. But it is white chocolate inspired and, I would say, evokes it with success. Whether or not you agree on the degree of white chocolate evocation in this recipe, we can all agree that it’s nonetheless amazingly delicious.
The key ingredient is cacao butter — a relatively specialised item, I grant you, and I’m sincerely sorry! Whenever a recipe implies a secret ingredient I’m always like, “please let it be flour, or water, or air,” and it’s always instead something like $400 worth of macadamias. (For what it’s worth, I found raw cacao butter quite reasonably priced at the Pukekohe Bin Inn and I believe it’s becoming available in supermarkets.) Cacao butter is simply the extracted fat from the cocoa beans, and it’s the most beguiling stuff — it has the texture of chocolate but it tastes like nothing. There is perhaps the faintest echo of chocolate flavour but otherwise, it’s just an inoffensive waxy vibe, and yet — I freely admit — I found myself continuously compelled to eat it, on its own, to marvel at that dichotomy of mind-blowing texture and utterly absent flavour.
Anyway, adding cacao butter to a sweetened mixture of cornflour-thickened lemon juice and almond milk, along with the tiniest, barest pinch of cocoa to help things along — it creates a filling for the slice which is velvety-textured and creamy, and flutteringly white chocolatey, while also being pertly zingy from the lemon. As is so often the case with the real thing, this white chocolate mixture graciously takes a back seat to the lemon’s snappy tartness.
The base — dense and slightly fudgy — somehow adds to the white chocolate vibes with the oaty nuttiness and caramelly brown sugar. You can always replace the oats with more flour if you don’t have the means or the will to get out the food processor, but for what it’s worth I think they add to the slice’s excellence, and if you give the food processor a quick shake after blending the oats — it’s basically clean again. I should also point out that the recipe does look extremely wordy, but that’s only because I am a real over-explainer and want to make sure you have all the information; the whole process is really quite straightforward.
I have not yet tried making this without any distracting citrus factor, but would be interested in pursuing it, along with seeing how cacao butter fares in other baking, sauces, ice creams, and indeed, if something that properly tastes like a bar of white chocolate can be made from it — but till then, this slice is an incredibly delicious starting point.
Vegan Lemon White Chocolate Slice
A recipe by myself.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 and 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 2 tablespoons cornflour (or cornstarch as it’s called in America)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (two medium-large lemons should do the trick)
- 3/4 cup icing sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon (as in, a tiny tiny pinch) of cocoa
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup raw cacao butter, roughly chopped
- lemon zest, to serve
1: Set your oven to 180C/350F and line a regular brownie tin (either 20x20cm or 27x17cm or thereabouts, one of those ones) with baking paper. Blitz the oats in a food processor until they are ground fairly finely (it’s okay to still have some bits here and there.)
2: Mix the powdered rolled oats and flour in a mixing bowl then sieve in the baking powder and baking soda and mix again. Add the sugar, coconut oil, salt, milk and vanilla and mix until it forms damp crumbs. Press the mixture in an even layer into the base of the brownie tin, stab a few times with a fork (this prevents it rising unevenly) and bake for about fifteen minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly while you make the filling.
3: Whisk the almond milk, cornflour, and lemon juice together in a small pan, making sure there are no lumps. It sometimes helps to mix a little liquid into the cornflour first and then stir that into the rest of the liquid. Continue stirring the mixture over a low heat until bubbles just appear at the edges – at this point, remove it immediately from the heat and keep stirring for a bit to cool it just slightly.
4: Either microwave the cacao butter in 20 second bursts or melt it in a bowl resting on top of a small pan of simmering water. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into the almond milk mixture and stir it in along with the vanilla, then gradually, very slowly, add the melted cacao butter, stirring till it’s incorporated before adding in more. It will take some definite stirring to bring it all together, but if it looks like it’s really not mixing in, sift in some extra icing sugar, a teaspoon at a time – this gives the oil something to “cling” to.
5: Spread the filling evenly over the base, sprinkle with the lemon zest, and refrigerate until completely cooled. The filling will be thick, but not solid. Slice into squares.
Notes: You can use refined or unrefined coconut oil successfully here. If you don’t or can’t have almond milk, rice milk would be my second choice – both have a neutral, slightly sweet flavour that’s ideal here.
Chest, by FRIGS. This song has everything: tempo changes, a pervading air of hostility, Hole-style yelling, more tempo changes. I love it.
Riot by Basement Five. Excellent, and best served as loud as it is fast.
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