Mars Bars With No Cow

My latest culinary experiment has been a… success? It didn’t feel that way at certain points in the process, I’ll tell you. But by god, they were tasty…

Ben, my housemate, can’t eat cow’s dairy products. But he loved mars bars as a kid and has missed them for years. And I love a challenge.

Job number one was to figure out the wily ways of nougat. Nearly all of the information I found on the net was about the italian kind with the nuts in, which is disgusting and not what I wanted. But googling “homemade mars bars”, (who’d have thought) yielded some more relevant results.

The making of the nougat went okkaaaaayy. I think I stopped beating it too early (it was still quite warm) and it lost a lot of its foaminess in the setting. And thus never really quite set. But it tasted amazing, so I forged ahead.

The caramel, which was more of a challenge on the dairy-free mission, was where the real disaster unfolded. All the instructions tell you not to stir your caramel, because it can go grainy if you accidentally over-evaporate a bit on the side of the pan and then stir it in to start the sugaring process. So I mindlessly followed that instruction even though my main ingredient, Biona sweetened condensed coconut milk, quite obviously wouldn’t behave the same if I’d stopped for even a second to think about it. Turns out it’s *crucial* to stir your coconut caramel.

That batch went on a plate to cool (without scraping too much of the blackened stuff off the bottom) and was amazing on toast for the next several days. Waste not want not.

The next batch went better. Two tins of sweetened condensed coconut milk and a bit of goat’s butter, low heat, stir stir stir and reduce to soft ball stage.

I poured the caramel onto the nougat and let it all cool and then tried to cut it. The nougat made that a laughable goal through its unbelievable stickiness. If I had done it right and kept beating til it was cool, it may have been slightly less sticky, but as it was, it was literally the stickiest substance known to man. So I put the whole lot in the freezer for several hours and tried again. With a hot, wet knife. Rinsing the knife in water from the kettle between every cut.

With all that, it was only a pain in the ass, not literally impossible.

Thereafter the dipping commenced, which was not as difficult as I thought it might be, possibly because of the cold fillings, possibly because vegan milk chocolate is easier to work with, possibly because I know what I’m doing these days? Anyway it went ok and there were several that looked not too bad.

Obviously they got messier as I got toward the end of the bowl of chocolate, and the last one was a matter of duffing the last nougat-caramel bar into the bowl of melted chocolate dregs and handing it to Ben with a spoon, which was very much to his delight.

All agreed that they tasted very much like mars bars, albeit with a coconutty edge, which was fine. I will probably try it again sometime but I think I will wait for the memory of the stickiness disaster to subside.