I love a bit of Rocky Road – indeed I’ve posted a recipe for a more traditional version of it on the blog before – but this a variation on the theme that came into being after I was given a bit of a culinary challenge by one of our friends, Lee. Some recent allergy tests have identified a number of foods that she has been advised to avoid – including cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, citrus fruits and and yeast. As Lee and her wife, Charley, were coming to ours for dinner I was excited to have the chance to take a different approach to planning dinner and create some new recipes along the way. I made a couple of sweet treats for dessert – one of which was this delicious Vegan Rocky Road, with pistachios, dried fruit and homemade honeycomb. It’s dairy-free and gluten-free, but far from fun-free!
You can easily get hold of good quality, dairy-free chocolate in most supermarkets these days – though if you’re not strictly vegan and just avoiding milk you’ll find that most high cocoa content chocolate has no milk derivatives in it anyway. (Just make sure to check the label). The base of any rocky road is a mixture of chocolate and fat, which gives a texture that yields nicely when eaten. Normally I’d used butter, but here I’ve used a good quality vegetable margarine to keep things free of any dairy ingredients. When these are melted together you get a gloriously rich and wonderfully glossy chocolate base that you can then fill with the ingredients of your choice.
The first thing I wanted to add in were some nuts, to make it feel a little more grown up. There are plenty of nuts that would work well here but I chose to use pistachios. They have a lovely texture that is firm yet yielding and don’t have a dominant flavour – a perfect ingredient for rocky road, as they’d play well with the other components. They’re also beautiful to behold and knew that their glorious greens and pinks were guaranteed to pop against the dark brown chocolate.
For contrast I then added in a selection of dried fruits from the store cupboard – in this case glacé cherries, for a bit of kitsch charm, and dried apricots and cranberries for both colour and flavour. Again you could mix this up a bit if you wanted and would suggest using whatever you have to hand rather than buying anything in especially for this recipe. Rocky Road only demands complimentary flavours and textures – how you achieve that is up to you.
The final ingredient was a generous helping of my Homemade Honeycomb for a bit of extra crunch. It’s simple to make and can be used to add sweetness and crispness to so many desserts. Here it was used to replace the wheat-rich biscuits you might find in a more traditional rocky road. It has to be said when I got to this stage I did think that the fillings looked so tasty on their own that it seemed a little harsh to hide them inside a block of chocolate.
Of course they’d only be covered up whilst the chocolate was chilling and setting in the fridge. As soon as I cut into the solid brown block the bright golden, green, pink and red colours were back on show and the flavours and textures could be enjoyed by everyone.
Vegan Fruit and Nut Rocky Road
This Vegan Rocky Road may be dairy-free and gluten-free, but it's far from fun-free! Rich chocolate, crisp honeycomb and sweet fruits make every mouthful a pleasure.
- 300 g Good Quality Vegan Dark Chocolate
- 225 g Vegetable Margarine
- 100 g Pistachios coarsely chopped
- 50 g Dried Apricots cut into quarters
- 50 g Dried Cranberries
- 50 g Glacé Cherries halved
- 50 g Honeycomb broken into chunks
Line a deep baking sheet with baking parchment.
Break the chocolate into chunks and put into a large heatproof bowl, along with the margarine. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water.
Stir until the chocolate and margarine have melted together into a smooth, glossy mixture. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, place all of the other ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Pour over the cooled chocolate mixture and stir well, until everything is well coated and combined.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the lined baking sheet and smooth out the top. Tap the tray gently against the work surface to release any air bubbles.
Put the tray into the fridge for a couple of hours until set. Cut into bars or chunks and enjoy.