I’ve never been good with food restrictions. I’m gratefully lucky to not have any known food allergies and have never needed to diet for weight or health reasons. You could say I eat pretty indiscriminately. Once upon a time my mother tried to enforce a three day auspicious vegetarian diet on the entire family to mark the Lunar New Year. But I became so irate at the prospect of eating this bland vegetarian fare, that with some strategic angry child campaigning, her three day vegetarian diet dwindled to 2 days, then 1 day and eventually I relented and allowed her to impose a vegetarian breakfast. I should clarify that I’m not against vegetarian fare in general – just my mother’s version of auspicious Chinese vegetarian fare which she insists should be devoid of spices and alium (garlic and onion) as they’re ‘stimulating’ additives and deemed inauspicious. Though it’s just one meal, to this day I find it a brutal exercise and normally overcompensate with an incisor exercising meat-heavy meal for lunch.
Karma came back to kick me up the back side. I was devastated when I had to go on a totally dairy free diet when my little boy, The Master, became allergic to cow’s milk protein at 4 months old. He was getting his dairy hit via me and it would result in allergic colitis and horrifically impressive ‘The Exorcist’ style projectile vomiting. Suddenly I became all too aware at how all-pervasive dairy is in our everyday lives. Milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt – the essential components of a breakfast for me – gone. I found pastas and risottos just weren’t the same without the customary liberal mound of Parmesan on top. I’ve totally written off French restaurants and I kissed buttery pastries, ice cream and cakes (particularly my beloved ricotta cannoli) goodbye.
Chocolate also took a momentary hiatus from my larder until I discovered dairy free chocolate. But it was almost illegal to call the stuff sold in my local supermarket chocolate. It was brown and sweet – and that’s where the likeliness ended. I found better versions at health food stores but was gobsmacked at just how much more I was expected to fork out for a quality dairy free product.
So I decided to make my own. And thankfully, unlike many of my projects that begin with an ignorant and indignant cry of “how hard could it be?”, thankfully, I wasn’t eating humble pie but delicious dairy free dark chocolate – made using not much more than cocoa butter, cocoa powder and a sweetener. The result is an incredibly silky smooth and buttery chocolate. Cocoa butter is expensive (the 250g block I bought from a health food store for this recipe cost me just over AUD$10) so the overwhelming majority of commercial chocolates have replaced the cocoa butter with cheaper vegetable fats instead. The use of cocoa butter gives the chocolate a decadent richness with a very low melting point – it melts almost instantly on the tongue.
One of my favourite chocolate treats is rocky road – but I’m rather finicky about the ingredients. The more marshmallows and chewy gummies the better. Coconut is banned outright and definitely no cherries – glacé or otherwise. Sadly I found there’s a dearth of dairy free rocky road options available (far too many have coconut – ugh!) so it made perfect sense to make my own.
Below is the recipe for my dairy free dark chocolate rocky road. I’ve loaded my recipe up with plenty of crunchy honeycomb, pistachios and biscuits; gooey marshmallows and plenty of gummy bears and snakes. But the good thing about rocky road is that it’s incredibly forgiving you can make it entirely your own. Don’t like biscuits? Prefer coconut in yours? Well, I think you’re crazy but go right ahead – it’s your rocky road.
There are just a few things to consider with the recipe below if you do intend to customise the ingredients though:
- I added very little sugar to the chocolate given all the sugary goodies already going into my recipe, but if you prefer a nuttier/ fruitier or more biscuity version you might consider adding another tablespoon of sugar or honey
- My recipe for dark chocolate is 2:1 ratio of cocoa butter to cocoa powder and the 200g of chocolate I’ve accounted for in the recipe below is enough to coat the roughly 450g of sugary treats, nuts and biscuits for an ingredient rich rocky road. If you prefer a more chocolatey version, increase the amount of chocolate or reduce the total dry ingredients or opt for fewer bulky ingredients (like marshmallows or honeycomb).
Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Rocky Road
Fills one medium sized loaf pan (21 x 27 x 11cm)
- 200g cocoa butter, grated or shaved
- 100g cocoa powder (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp icing sugar or honey
- 100g honeycomb, chopped into large chunks
- 3-4 digestive biscuits, roughly chopped
- 80g pistachios
- 15-20 marshmallows, chopped into large chunks
- 100g gummy bears and/or snakes, chopped
- Line your loaf pan with baking paper. An excellent tip from Jamie Oliver is to scrunch up the baking paper and wet it thoroughly for docile and compliant baking paper.
- Melt the cocoa butter in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water.
- Sift the cocoa powder and sugar together and add to the melted cocoa butter. Stir thoroughly.
- Tip in all the dry ingredients and coat well. Leave to semi set before pouring into the loaf pan otherwise the chocolate will drain to the bottom of the pan. Press the rocky road into the load pan to minimise air gaps and leave to set at room temperature or in the fridge for 30 minutes
It sounds terribly cliché to say this, but I honestly never seem to make enough of this rocky road. The recipe above makes an entire packed loaf pan full of rocky road – that’s a mega bar of chocolate AND about half a kilo of candy. And yet disturbingly, The Co-pilot and I always seem to demolish all of it in a matter of days. And that’s when we’re exercising restraint. But with Christmas just around the corner, little portions of beautifully packaged rocky road make great gifts for friends and family. For a special Christmas themed rocky road – a pistachio and red snakes heavy version would look amazingly festive. Some might even add in coconut and glace cherries to complement the colour theme (but they’d be crazy).
So the question is – what would you put in your rocky road?