Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week three: VEGAN Peanut Butter Krispy Bar and VEGAN Toffee Fudge Brownie!  »

Last week, guest veganizer Janet Hudson made gorgeous margarita bombes three ways, a recipe that nicely synced up with our last week of really summery weather. For the third installment of Vegansaurus’ Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef, we are pleased to introduce Celine Steen! As you know, Celine is the proprietor of the highly regarded Have Cake, Will Travel, and the author of several cookbooks. For her challenge, she needed to recreate the winning recipe from a school bake sale, something particularly suited to her vegan talents.

Celine being a superstar, she decided to veganize both the winning dessert and the second-place dessert, so lucky us, we get two recipes this week! The first is for Eric Wolitzky’s Peanut Butter Krispy Bar, spelled that way because he used fancy brand-name cereal. Also he baked for something like a billion children, which is why the those proportions look insane. Celine cut them down to regular, one-household size for you, of course, but never mind that: Let’s bake some tasty rectangular prisms!

Vegan Peanut Butter Krispy Bar
The first topping will appear darker than the one used on the show, since semi-sweet chocolate is used rather than milk chocolate. If you find affordable and tasty vegan milk chocolate, by all means, this will be delicious too.

Puffed cereal layer
¼ cup nondairy butter
¼ cup water
¼ cup light agave nectar or light corn syrup
⅓ cup granulated sugar
4 to 6 cups puffed rice (or other puffed cereal; quantity may vary depending on the size of the puffed cereal chosen)

Middle layer
1 cup (132 g) semisweet chocolate
½ cup plus 2 Tbs (140 g) natural peanut butter, at room temperature or slightly heated, to combine easily
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs (140 g) store-bought or homemade vegan hazelnut chocolate spread, at room temperature or slightly heated, to combine easily

Top layer
1 cup (132 g) bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbs (42 g) natural peanut butter
1 tsp light agave nectar or light corn syrup

Puffed cereal layer
Melt nondairy butter; set aside.
Combine water, agave/corn syrup and sugar; cook to soft ball stage. Whisk melted nondairy butter into soft ball sugar.
Pour over puffed cereal and fold together well. Add enough cereal so that it is coated and moist.
Pour mixture into an 8-inch square pan lined with parchment or wax paper and coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Spread out evenly, press down firmly with more parchment or wax paper to minimize the mess, and let cool.

Middle layer
Melt chocolate using bain-marie method or microwave. Combine with peanut butter and chocolate spread. Pour and spread this mixture over cooled puffed cereal preparation. Let cool to set up.

Top layer
Melt bittersweet chocolate, peanut butter and agave/corn syrup.
Pour and spread over bars.
Let entire pan cool overnight.
Cut into desired shapes. Stores well in the freezer.

The proportion gigantism continues in the second-place recipe, Malika Ameen’s Toffee Fudge Brownie, aside from which they also look kind of gross. Sure, a cup of heavy cream, that seems, um, reasonable, but 22 eggs? Not while Jack DeCoster’s still Mister Egg USA. Thank goodness for Celine and her mighty veganizing powers!
Vegan Toffee Fudge Brownie

1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsweetened coconut cream (makes for a buttery taste; can be found at international markets. Use any other nondairy creamer if desired)
½ cup light agave nectar or light corn syrup
½ pound (227 g) nondairy butter, cut into cubes

Non-stick cooking spray or nondairy butter
3.5 ounces (100 g) 70 percent chocolate
¼ cup plus 1 Tbs (70 g) nondairy butter
3 packed Tbs (39 g) light brown sugar
½ cup plus 2 Tbs (115 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 g) blended silken tofu
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup (60 g) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ sheet of toffee, cut into good-sized chunks*

1. Have a Silpat-lined baking sheet and a large offset spatula handy.
2. In medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar and agave/corn syrup.
3. Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil without stirring. Brush sides of pan with wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar.
4. Add butter and continue to cook without stirring until mixture becomes light brown.
5. When mixture becomes light brown, begin to stir with a heatproof spatula until it becomes a caramel color and thick enough to be poured without spilling. The whole process may take up to 15 minutes.
6. Carefully pour mixture onto Silpat-lined sheet tray and spread to about ¼-inch thickness.
7. Let toffee cool and store it in the freezer.

1. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Melt chocolate with butter over a bain-marie or use the microwave, if you are a soulless baker like me.
2.Transfer into a large bowl and, using an immersion blender, combine with sugars, tofu, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla until smooth. Fold in flour, baking powder and toffee chunks.
3.Bake at 325°F for 20 to 30 minutes. Mine were done after 26 minutes: you’ll know they’re ready when the top is set and the sides pull away from the pan.

There will be leftover toffee, which keeps well in the freezer. The brownies taste great straight from the freezer, too.
*Larger toffee chunks tend to stay whole in the brownies, as opposed to smaller ones that melt almost completely. Regardless, you’ll definitely taste the toffee.

We are so grateful to Celine for veganizing two recipes for us! If you don’t already read her blog, what is wrong with you? She writes recipes for six cookies at a time! Because sometimes you only want to make six cookies! I can’t believe no one’s offered her a deal specifically for one-to-two-person recipes; this is the USA, we are DUMB and LAZY and math is for immigrants and their children. In case you are too lazy to find the link on the left, click here to read the Project Just Desserts archive. Please let us know if you attempt Celine’s recipe’s, or Janet’s margarita bombes, or Laura’s mousse torte, or any of the recipes to come! Send photos! Play along!

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