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Vegan Millionaire’s Shortbread

It was difficult to come up with a fitting description for this recipe as all three words of the title eventually settled for are interchangeable. It doesn’t have to be vegan – but the fudgey chocolate topping is a version of  Nigella’s icing for her (very good) vegan chocolate cake so we continued the theme. It is millionaire appropriate in decadence but not necessarily in cost or calories (the date caramel for instance is far healthier for the gut than a can of condensed milk boiled into toffee, as lovely a gooey filling as that is. I guess you could call the biscuity base a kind of shortbread but it’s actually more a of a textured cheesecake base. The granola is a nice addition – especially if you can be bothered to blitz it to a colourful crumb beforehand, to help with the overall structural integrity of the slice.

You do not have to be a vegan to enjoy this sweet treat. Our first attempt at concocting it, we took  to a friend’s house for the dessert for our New Year’s dinner party. It was actually forgotten and left in the fridge that night but our hosts accidentally demolished two thirds of it with their New Years day KFC. This recipe is dedicated to them, and to the Badger’s Print Production Editor Lucy Pegg –  the best vegan baker and recipe tester I know.

Recipe:

For the base:

250g biscuits of your choice (digestives, gingernuts etc.)

100g butter (vegan or not, up to you)

2tbsp runny honey (or maple/ golden syrup)

2tbsp crunchy peanut butter

A handful of granola (optional)

 

For the caramel:

100g dates, roughly chopped (you can get a big bag of these very cheap from poundland)

Water, to cover (about 100ml)

 

For the chocolate topping:

3tbsp cold water

5tbsp butter (or dairy-free alternative)

3tbsp soft brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp instant coffee

1 1/2 cocao powder

150g chopped dark chocolate (about 70% coco solids is ideal)

Method:

Smash up the biscuits in a sandwich bag with a rolling pin until a you have smallish rubble-like crumbs.

Melt the butter, peanut butter and honey together in the microwave until bubbling then mix through the biscuit crumbs in a large bowl.

Line a 30cm squared tin with two sheets of cling film, and then press the biscuit mixture firmly into the base with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate for half an hour.

Both the icing and the caramel can be made and then left in their pans on the hob until the base is ready.

To make the caramel, roughly chop the dates and cover with cold water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce the temperature and cook until the dates have disintegrated and the texture of the mixture is thick and gooey. Add more water if you think it’s too thick to spread on the crumbly base.

To make the chocolate topping, put all the ingredients minus the chopped chocolate in another small saucepan. Heat until melted then turn off the heat, add the chocolate, leave for a ‘scant minute’ before stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until glossy.

When the base has firmed in the fridge, assemble the layers by spreading the date caramel thickly but gently, then pouring over the chocolate icing (if it has firmed up in the pan whilst cooling down you can briefly re-heat it to loosen).

Finish with a scattering of granola or toasted pumpkin seeds and then leave to set for at least two hours or preferably overnight if you really want it to slice well.

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