Vegan Toffee Crisp Bars
Toffee Crisps used to be one of my favourite chocolate bars growing up, alongside mars bars. The original toffee crisp bars consist of crispy cereal, biscuit and caramel covered in milk chocolate. These bars were of course, not vegan-friendly at all – but don’t worry, this recipe has got you covered!
Crispy rice cereal coated in easy homemade toffee caramel sauce and coated in vegan-friendly chocolate, yep, this recipe really is as easy as it sounds. It reminds me of making rice krispie treats as a child! All the flavours are there, but the added toffee makes them ever more irresistible, plus they come in the shape of a sophisticated chocolate bar and not a splodge that looks like it was flicked off the back of a spoon onto a baking tray!
I’m a little unsure as to why it’s taken me so long to recreate this treat, it’s so easy to make you’d think it would have been a no-brainer. But hey, better late than never I guess, plus, they are here just in time for Halloween. So if you’re planning on staying in this year (I hope so!) this recipe is one that the whole family will enjoy making, and eating!
LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THE INGREDIENTS
PUFFED RICE CEREAL
You can check the free-from section in your local supermarket or health food shop, they usually have a minimally processed variety of puffed rice cereal. Be sure to check the label and make sure that the brand you choose is suitable for vegans – many cereals such as Kellog’s rice krispies contain vitamin D3 which is derived from animals. You can also order lots of vegan-friendly brands online such as Kallo Organic Natural Puffed Rice Wholegrain Cereal
SWEETENED CONDENSED COCONUT MILK
Many caramel sauces and dulce de leche recipes are traditionally made with condensed dairy milk. When the sweetened milk is cooked down it creates The Maillard reaction – a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavour. An easy swap for condensed sweetened dairy milk is condensed sweetened coconut milk. This product makes the perfect base for caramel and toffee based desserts (it also tastes great straight from the tin, whoops!). I use Nature’s Charm sweetened condensed coconut milk
The coconut cream you use for this recipe needs to thick and creamy in order to get a nice thick toffee result. You can get this by either buying coconut cream or setting a can of coconut milk. In order to get the cream from canned coconut milk the can will need to be chilled in advance. Pop the can in the fridge the night before making the recipe, and once chilled, the full fat coconut cream will rise to the top of the can, separating from the coconut water/milk – the coconut cream is the only part you’ll want to use in this recipe.
A touch of vanilla extract helps to bring the coconut based caramel sauce to the next level. Adding vanilla extract is completely optional. However if you do decide to add it make sure that the brand of vanilla extract you choose is vegan friendly. It never ceases to shock me where animal derived additives can be hidden in foods – some vanilla flavouring is made using castoreum, which is derived from the anal glands of beavers! This unnecessary and exploitative product is hidden in labels under “natural flavouring”.
Luckily, most large supermarkets now stock vanilla extract which is labelled “suitable for vegans” but if you’re in doubt, some brands I’d recommend are Neilsen Massey pure vanilla extract and Taylor and Colledge vanilla bean extract.
You can make your own chocolate, such as my dairy-free chocolate recipe, but if you’re feeling lazy like I was, a good quality dairy-free vegan chocolate works perfectly. I often get asked which brands I’d recommend and NOMO Free from Choc are one of my favourite vegan milk chocolate bars.
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN TOFFEE CRISP BARS
MAKE THE CARAMEL
Firstly prepare the loaf tin by lining it with some parchment paper. This will amke is easier to lift out the toffee bars once they have set as it will prevent them from sticking to the sides. i use a 12″ loaf tin and this makes 8 large, tall bars (similar to the shape of the original Nestle versions). You could also use 2 smaller loaf tins or an 8 x 8″ baking tray if you prefer. Bear in mind as there is more surface space, an 8 x 8″ dish will result in flatter bars.
Start by making the caramel base. Add the condensed sweetened coconut milk to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Next reduce down to medium heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Make sure you whisk or stir the mixture regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and potentially burning. I would recommend keeping a close eye on it while it simmers – don’t go off mowing the lawn or anything like that 🙂
Remove ¾ of a cup of the reduced caramel mixture and add it to a large bowl. Set the saucepan with the remaining caramel aside – this will be reduced down later to form a thick caramel layer for on top of the bars.
MIX THE INGREDIENTS
You’ll need to work quickly for this stage, as the caramel will start to set pretty fast once it’s taken off the heat.
Add the puffed rice to the large bowl with the caramel in it and use a spatula to mix the ingredients together.
Press the puffed rice and caramel mixture into the base of the loaf tin, compacting it down in one even layer using your spatula.
Set the loaf tin aside in the fridge to firm up while you prep the remaining ingredients.
THICKEN THE REMAINING CARAMEL
Place the saucepan with the remaining caramel back onto a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add in the coconut cream and vanilla extract, whisking well and allow the mixture to simmer for another 10 minutes.
Pour the caramel into the loaf pan on top of the puffed rice mixture. I like to tap the tin on the work surface a few times to knock out any air bubbles. This also causes from of the rice puffs to rise up into the thick caramel – leave this step out if you’d prefer them not to mix too much!
FREEZE AND COAT
On to the last few steps, place in the freezer to set for about 2 hours or until they have set. Once set, remove the loaf tin and cut into 8 bars.
Melt the chocolate on a double boiler, and dip the bars into it. Sit them on top of a tray or cutting board lined with parchment paper.
Place the coated bars back in the freezer for another 10 minutes to set before serving.
WHY MAKE THESE TOFFEE CRISP BARS?
- Perfect to make with kids for Halloween treats.
- Taste uncannily like the original version from Nestle.
- Easy to make
- Plant-based and Vegan-friendly
- Gluten-free (double check labels of individual products)
- Free from animal derived products
- Minimal ingredients
OTHER NOSTALGIC TREATS THAT YOU’LL LOVE
Vegan Toffee Crisp Bars
- 640 g sweetened condensed coconut milk
- 90 g vegan-friendly puffed rice cereal check labels to ensure vegan-friendly (kellogg's rice krispies are not vegan)
- 75 g coconut cream
- 2.5 g vanilla extract
- 300 g vegan-friendly chocolate
- Line a 12" loaf tin with parchment paper and set aside.
- Start by making the caramel base. Add the condensed coconut milk to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes, whilst stirring the mixture often to prevent it from burning.
- Remove ¾ of a cup of the reduced caramel mixture and add it to a large bowl. Set the saucepan with the remaining caramel aside.
- Add the puffed rice to the large bowl with the caramel in it and use a spatula to mix the ingredients together.
- Press the puffed rice and caramel mixture into the base of the loaf tin, compacting it down in one even layer using your spatula. Set aside in the fridge.
- Place the saucepan with the remaining caramel back on a medium heat and add the coconut cream and vanilla extract. Whisk well and allow the mixture to simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Pour the caramel into the loaf pan on top of the puffed rice mixture.
- Place in the freezer to set for about 2 hours. Once set, remove the loaf tin and cut into 8 bars.
- Melt the chocolate on a double boiler, and dip the bars into it. Sit them on top of a tray or cutting board lined with parchment paper.
- Place the coated bars back in the freezer for another 10 minutes to set before serving.
- I like to store these bars in the fridge so that the caramel stays nice and chewy. You can however keep them out of the fridge instead if you'd prefer and consume within a couple days.