• meganalsford

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These tasty little treats have taken me quite some time to perfect with many a failed attempt. But the effort was worth it as I think these little morsels of indulgence are delicious and as good as, if not better than, the traditional caramel slices I make.


Using a mini muffin tray they come in little portion controlled bites which can be handy if you're trying to keep your added sugar or total energy intake low. But be warned, you may find that they are too


good to stop at one! Also this is not a health food recipe but a recipe for a treat that serves no other purpose than being delicious. Sometimes you just need a little slice of heavenly happiness.


I actually created these treats in preparation for my daughters first birthday party as I have friends and family who either need gluten free, dairy free or vegan options and I didn't want them to miss out on home baking. So don't be fooled into thinking that their dairy free or gluten free status make them healthy as they are every bit as indulgent as a traditional caramel slice.


Since my daughters party was cancelled twice (thanks Covid!), I thought I'd share the happiness instead. They would make a fun iso baking day. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.


Vegan and Gluten Free Mini Caramel Slice

Makes 35 mini slices


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups almond meal

1/2 cup moist coconut flakes

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons tapioca flour

80g Nuttelex Buttery or other plant based spread#

320g sweetened condensed coconut milk

75g golden syrup

3 tablespoons cornflour

125g Nuttelex Buttery or other plant based spread#

100g milk and gluten free dark chocolate*

1 tablespoon Nuttelex Buttery or other plant based spread#


Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160oC and grease a 4 x 6 mini muffin tin.

  2. Put the coconut flakes into a spice grinder or blender and process until fine. Add to a medium mixing bowl with almond flour, sugar and tapioca and mix to combine.

  3. Melt 80g plant based spread and add to flour mixture and mix until a soft dough forms. It'll be a little crumbly but will stick together when pressed.

  4. Add a teaspoon of dough to each mini muffin hole and press down with fingers to make a flat surface. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden on top. Set aside.

  5. In a small saucepan add golden syrup, cornflour and condensed coconut milk and stir until combined. Add 125g plant based spread and put over medium heat. Stir until spread has melted and mixed through. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil.

  6. Once boiling, turn down heat to a gentle simmer and continue to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent burning to the bottom of the pan. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

  7. Add a dollop of caramel over the biscuit base you prepared earlier and place in the fridge to completely cool.

  8. When caramels are ready, add 1 tablespoon plant spread to a small saucepan and place over very low heat until melted. Once melted, break the chocolate into the pan. Continue to stir until chocolate has melted and mixed with the spread. Take off the heat and spoon over the chilled caramel. Spread to cover the caramel. Return to the fridge to set.

  9. Once set, remove from the muffin tin and enjoy. Keep in the fridge until ready to eat or for softer caramel, remove from the fridge 10minutes before ready to serve.

*I used Lindt Excellence 70% dark chocolate as it doesn't have any gluten or milk in the ingredients but it does have an allergen warning that it may contain traces of milk. If traces of milk are not tolerated, then you can leave the chocolate layer out or replace with a dark chocolate that doesn't have potential traces of milk. I've just not been able to find a reliable one. If you've found a good one, let me know in the comments :)


#If you making these gluten free, make sure your plant spread isn't used for regular bread as this could lead to cross contamination and will the end result unsafe for those with coeliac disease.


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  • meganalsford

Ok let me start by saying that yes I know snacks wrapped in plastic or foil are hardly environmentally friendly and often not nutritious. And in an ideal world you wouldn't eat snacks other than whole fruit, nuts or veggies. But the world isn't always ideal and sometimes you just need a grab and go snack and this is where something like these might be an option. So let's take a closer look and see if they are worth your hard earned dollary doos.


I'll also kick off with saying that I was highly sceptical of these when I saw them on the shelf albeit intrigued. I was expecting little dehydrated cauliflower florets and was surprised to see they are simply an extruded snack (extrusion is a food processing method of combining ingredients into a desired shape, like Twisties or Cheerios). They have been so processed the only thing they have in common with the cauliflower they were made from is they are sort of a similar colour (ok I'm stretching here but as you can see from the photo not very cauliflower-esk).



Let's break down the claims:

  • Made with real cauliflower - 54% cauliflower is stated on the ingredients

  • Whole grain - they are making this claim as the puffs are a mix of cauliflower and rice. Rice is a grain, but white rice (which I'm assuming was used in this product although it's not declared) is not a whole grain as the outer bran layer has been removed. There isn't any regulation over the claim 'whole grain' and this is an example of why you should be wary of the claim unless they have a certificate from the Grains and Legume Nutrition Council

  • Gluten Free - great for those who have coeliac disease or gluten intolerance but otherwise doesn't mean anything

  • Healthier Chip - see comparison table below. I'd actually say they are on par with regular chips. With only slightly less energy, similar sodium and slightly more saturated fat there isn't much difference. Also don't forget potato chips are made from a vegetable, although potato doesn't sound as healthy as cauliflower, the humble spud is still worthy of it's vegetable status. The only part that would make this puff 'healthier' would be higher fibre but I wouldn't say that's worth the energy or the sodium and there are better places to get your fibre from.

  • Great source of fibre, vitamin C and protein - Vitamin C isn't listed on the nutrition information panel so there is no way of knowing if this product has any vitamin C. However, given vitamin C begins to break down in temperatures as low as 30oC, I'd doubt there was much left. As for protein and fibre, while the puffs have some fibre they aren't the great source as claimed and they don't have enough protein for a source claim.

  • We've added some superfoods - again there isn't any regulation over the term superfood and I'm struggling to see anything superfood in this product.

  • Leaving no guilt - guilt isn't an ingredient and should never be attached to any food.


Ingredients

Cauliflower (54%), Rice, Rice Bran Oil, Sea Salt (1%).


Nutritional Comparison


Positives: Clean ingredient list, no additives, preservatives or colours and 54% cauliflower and a source of fibre.


Negatives: Made in Thailand - food miles here wouldn't be great, high in sodium and moderately high in saturated fat. As you can see above, the nutritional information is far from a cauliflower! Expensive at $4 a pack they are almost triple the price of regular chips.


Flavour - very oily tasting but flavour is ok.


Verdict: These puffs using the hype around cauliflower to create a health halo where it really isn't warranted. If you want a snack, by all means, give these a try but treat them as you would any other chip and don't be fooled into thinking they are any healthier. In other words enjoy occasionally as a joy food not a health food.


If you want a snack and love cauliflower, try out my cauliflower bites instead. They have no added salt, use cauliflower in its natural state and are cooked in EVOO.

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  • meganalsford

Jump to recipe

I was inspired to make these when I had a lot of left over cauliflower and needed a snack. They are no a go to snack for me as they are easy to whip up, just toss in oil and seasonings and bake low and slow.


They are best served fresh from the oven but are also to be chilled and placed in a container for a snack on the run.


Cauliflower Bites


Ingredients

1/2 Cauliflower head, cut into small pieces

1/2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150oC

  2. Toss cauliflower pieces in a bowl with oil and spices until well coated.

  3. Place onto a lined baking sheet in a single layer and cook until crisp, roughly 80mins. The smaller you cut the cauliflower, the faster the cook time.



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