Chocolate and Peanut Butter Caramel Slices

I made these for a buffet we were having recently. The idea behind them was a soft chocolate filling on pastry with a caramel topping, all cut into small squares for people to pick at as and when they wanted them. This is not a quick dessert to make, but the results are worth the time you put in. It’s entirely vegan and gluten free, but it does contain peanuts. If you have an allergy, the peanut butter is for flavour and can be omitted without affecting the recipe.

Prep time: about 40 minutes. Cooking time: about 1 hour 15 minutes, plus cooling and setting time.

Makes 1 large tray.

Gluten Free.

For the Pastry:
300g gluten-free all-purpose flour
100g vegan butter
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp xantham gum
100ml plant-based milk

For the Filling:
1 x 400g block firm tofu, drained
400ml plant-based milk
1 x 170g tub vegan cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 heaped tbsp peanut butter
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
180g sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
50g cocoa powder
200g dark chocolate, melted

For the Caramel Topping:
200ml vegan cream
50g vegan butter
250g soft, light brown sugar
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp agar agar powder

To Decorate:
4 heaped tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp water

First make the pastry. Put the flour and butter into a mixing bowl and crumb between your fingers to make a breadcrumb texture. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and then thoroughly mix together, then pour in the plant milk. Bring together with your hands and knead into a dough. Cover and store in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.
Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F and grease a large, rectangle baking tray with an approximately 1 inch lip.
When your pastry has chilled, roll it out to the size of your baking tray and line the bottom with it. This can be very difficult with gluten-free pastry, so I found it easier to roll it out in the tray itself, using a plastic beaker as the rolling pin. Make sure the pastry goes to the edges of the tray but not up the sides. Prick the pastry with a fork and then cover with greaseproof paper, so that it goes up over the edges. Fill the paper with baking beans or dry rice and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until just cooked. Remove from the oven and take out the beans and paper, then set aside to cool.
To make the filling, put all the filling ingredients, apart from the melted chocolate, into a blender and blend until completely smooth. You make need to scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is blended. Pour in the melted chocolate and blend again until fully incorporated.


Turn the oven down to gas 4/180C/350F.
Pour the filling out onto the pastry, you should have enough so that it fills the tray to about ¾ inch deep. Smooth out with your spatula and then cook in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes, until firm and browned. Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool.
While the tart is cooling you can make the caramel sauce. You also want this to be cool before pouring over the top of the tart to avoid it melting the tart and mixing in. Put all the ingredients, apart from the agar agar, into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, whisking from time to time, then add the agar agar powder and whisk in. Simmer for 2 more minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to completely cool. It will thicken as it cools, so whisk from time to time to prevent a skin from forming and to keep it pourable.
When the tart and the caramel sauce have cooled, pour the sauce over the top of the tart and spread it all over with a spatula or pallet knife. Store in the fridge or freezer to completely set firm (2-3 hours).
To decorate, mix the icing sugar and water together and then drizzle over the top of the tart. You can cut the tart into either 12 large squares, or much small ones as in the picture.

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