Vegangela is one of my favorite vegan bloggers because she does just that. She took this recipe from Vegweb.com, rewrote it, and modified some of the ingredients to produce this amazing torte. I fell in chocolate love the moment I saw it.
In writing SWEET AND SIMPLE VEGAN DESSERTS, I've vowed to keep things as simple and un-scary as possible. I want non-vegans and new vegans to feel comfortable working with the recipes so I can win over many, many converts, thus securing my place in the Vegan Evangel Hall of Fame.
So, I tried the recipe with unbleached flour, instead of whole wheat. It worked. I'm a big fan of whole wheat flour, so I think if I made this for my family, I would use whole wheat. My initial attempt was in preparation for a party of omnivores, so I banked on the concept the lighter texture of the unbleached flour would win them over. It did.
I didn't have any chocolate except a couple bags of chocolate chips. I melted them down, and they worked fine.
Vegangela's recipe didn't say what size springform to use, so I tossed this recipe into my 10" pan, thinking bigger was better. In hindsight, I think an 8" or 9" pan might produce the taller, more impressive results Vegangela ended up with. Mine was sort of short, though very delicious!
I'm not a fan of pecans in general, with the exception of pecan pie, and I'm allergic to walnuts. (Does anyone have a stellar recipe for vegan pecan pie?) So I used slivered almonds in place of pecans or walnuts. Economical tip: Get your slivered almonds in bulk - don't buy the little packages in the baking aisle. Locally, I get them at Bear Foods.
Finally, I substituted cane juice crystals for brown sugar, simply because it's what I stock, and the natural molasses flavor of the cane juice provided enough rich, dark sweetness that I didn't see the need to make a trip to the store for brown sugar. I don't really have a great vegan source readily available for regular brown sugar, anyway.
Here's the recipe, as I modified it:
Caramel Chocolate Almond Truffle Torte
1 c. unbleached or whole wheat flour
1 c. oats, finely ground (I used my Magic Bullet, but you can use a food processor or blender)
1/2 c. cane juice crystals or vegan sugar (I use Zulka)
1 c. vegan stick margarine (I use Nucoa)
1 c. cane juice crystals
1/2 c. vegan stick margarine
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cornstarch
1/2 c. slivered almonds
Truffle Layer Ingredients:
16 oz. dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips, like Tropical Source (I used a bag and a half, plus a "bit" more to get 16-ish ounces)
1/2 c. soy milk
1/2 c. vegan stick margarine
1/2 c. slivered almonds, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix flour, oats, and cane juice crystals or sugar. Add stick margarine and mix with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly.
Press mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Use a fork to make small holes throughout the crust, to help it bake evenly. Bake for 15 minutes, then let cool completely.
Caramel Layer Directions:
Melt margarine in a small saucepan. Stir in cane juice crystals and vanilla, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly melted. Add cornstarch and stir until it is evenly distributed and the sauce is shiny. Pour caramel over cooled crust. Sprinkle almonds in an even layer over the caramel sauce.
Refrigerate for half an hour, or until caramel thickens.
Chocolate Truffle Layer Directions:
Bring a medium pot of water to boil, and turn down to a simmer. Place the margarine and chocolate in a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl, then place bowl over simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted. Stir in soymilk until smooth. Pour chocolate mixture over caramel crust using in a spiral motion, working inward, so as not to disturb the nuts too much. Tap the bottom of pan on counter to settle the chocolate of any air bubbles. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then sprinkle the chopped nuts on top. Return to fridge for another 2 hours.
As Vegangela noted, this dessert is incredibly rich, and best served in dainty wedges.