Vegan Peace Corps Cookies

Okay, so I was TOTALLY going to post about  the fabulous, amazing, best-thing-I’ve-ever-made dinner that I made last night. Seriously, it was so stinkin’ good. We deemed it ‘restaurant quality’, and determined that it was among the best meals we’ve eaten in recent memory.

However.

The post would have been rendered utterly un-enticing with the enhancement of photos, and someone (ahem) can’t find her camera.

I used it last night to photograph the afore-mentioned delish dinner, and I then used it to photograph the youngest child being silly. I think I left it in the girls’ room, but they’re asleep and a quick glance in the room did not reveal the camera. I am certainly not about to rouse two sleeping toddlers, so I didn’t actually venture into their room to search more thoroughly.

I know the camera will turn up. I’m just disappointed that I don’t get to post about THE dinner until later. Oh well. Every day, at my job (and in general, come to think of it), I am reminded that there are many, many people out there with problems far greater than a missing camera with pictures of a yummy vegan meal, and I consider myself very, very fortunate for my lot in life.

So, I will post the recipe for the peanut-butter chocolate bars that the girls and I made yesterday to share with various neighbors, because I had already downloaded one picture of the bars.

I really like these because they are SO quick, and they’re made with ingredients I usually have around the house (when I make them with oats, at least), and they are really quite delicious. They are a great combination of sweet and salty, with a touch of vanilla, and they have a wonderful, slightly-crunchy texture, tempered by the smooth chocolate, which also balances out the sweetness nicely. I’m not a huge chocolate fan, so I use less, but use as much as you like.

This is loosely based on a recipe I found in a Peace Corps cookbook that a dear friend gave me ages and ages ago. It is not a vegan cookbook, and not even vegetarian, and it is not mass-produced: it is a spiral-bound collection of a rather odd assortment of recipes. Some are native recipes to the countries in which volunteers served; some are standard American recipes, and some are in-a-pinch recipes. Anyways….this is one that was  a real find. I’ve made it many ways, but this is the ‘standard’ way I make it for guests. This is a quick and truly delicious recipe. Everyone who’s tried it loves it; I’ve even had some incredibly hard-core Southern meat-eating, hunting men say that this recipe has showed them that vegan good can actually be good. True, that’s not really a great compliment, but for the rural south, that’s pretty good!

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (Nabisco grahams in the red box are vegan, and health-food stores often have vegan grahams) (you can also use a combination of ground oats and whole oats, which is how I often make these for myself) (this is about 1 whole sleeve of graham crackers; put them in a bag and roll it with a rolling pin to crush the crackers)

4-6 tablespoons Earth Balance or other vegan margarine, melted (start with 4 and add more if necessary)

1/3 cup peanut butter

salt, if needed or if using unsalted peanut butter

a small splash of vanilla

about 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 – 1 cup vegan chocolate chips, melted (the original recipe calls for a cup, which is waaaaay too much for me, but I’m not crazy about lots of chocolate)

directions:

Mix the crushed graham crackers, confectioners’ sugar, and salt if using. Add in the margarine, peanut butter and vanilla and stir to combine. You want a pretty stiff dough; you may need to use your hands to combine everything thoroughly. If the dough is liquidy at all, add more graham cracker crumbs, or some oats. I have found that the amount of margarine needed greatly depends on the humidity. If you are in a really dry climate, you may need 6 tablespoons instead of 4.  You do not want any of the dough to stick on your hands; a few crumbs sticking is okay, but no actual clumps of dough.

Press into a 9 x 9 pan. Cover with melted chocolate. Let set before scoring and eating; if you’re in a hurry (cough, cough), put them in the freezer or refrigerator to hasten the setting process.

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