Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vegan Paçoca

Paçoca is SO good. It is a Brazilian candy made of raw peanuts, sugar, condensed milk, and salt. What's cool about it is that if you replace the condensed milk (I used agave which has a similar sticky consistency and can hold the treat together), it is a naturally raw vegan dessert! Woot, woot!

It's so intensely peanut-buttery & salty-sweet. The consistency is really crumbly, which makes it fun to eat and make. Usually paçoca is served as little squares or as a crumble over other desserts. In fact, it would make a great pie "crust" to a raw vegan peanut butter-chocolate cheesecake.


Oh, it's also widely eaten around Easter time which makes it perfect for this time of year. If you travel down to Brazil you might also find a new variety of Hershey's that you haven't seen before:

Cool, huh?

Of course, Hershey's candies aren't vegan. But hey, one can dream. If you dipped the completed product of this recipe in some melted chocolate (1 4oz bar unsweetened dark chocolate melted w/ 4 tbsp vegan margarine over low heat) you could make your own vegan Hershey's paçoca!

Vegan Paçoca

(pronounced like pa-SSO-ca)

1 1/2 cup roasted/salted peanuts
3/4 cup tapioca or manoic flour
1 cup vegan brown sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar (don't have it? use maple syrup)

1. Process all dry ingredients.

Manoic/tapioca flours come from the cassava plant which is known as the "bread of the tropics." Many South American and African desserts/dishes are made with the starchy tubers of the cassava plant. Another cool fact about it is that, when not cooked or processed properly cassava is poisonous. Both varities, sweet and bitter, naturally contain cyanogenic glycosides. That is... a cyanide group contained within the glycosides (sugars bonded with non-carb molecules) of the plant. 

No need to fear, though! The flours that you can buy (Bob's Red Mill is a good brand) are completely safe to consume, and so is properly prepared cassava! Usually boiling, soaking, or baking the plant does the trick. In fact, I've had cassava several times before in various West African dishes and it is delicious.

The mixture will be crumbly before you add the agave.
I don't know why my hand looks like Quasimodo's hand here.

2. Add agave and process again. Try to squish the mixture with your hands. If it stays together, you're A-OK. If it doesn't, add a little more agave & process again.

3. Simply take a palm full of the mixture in your hands and press into small squares. Some people like to pat the entire mix down into the bottom of a pan and cut square shapes out, but I think doing it with your hands is easier.

Eat, eat, eat! Happy spring!

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