Semper Fudge!


Vegan-types! (Read: Dianna) Can you make proper fudge with vegan ingredients? That is, I have some experience with failing at fudge. There's a chemical reaction involved that, if it doesn't occur properly, causes the fudge to turn out dry and crumbly and gross. My question is whether soy milk or some similar can be substituted for cream and still have it fudge properly. Is milkfat an essential element in the process of enfudgeulating, or is it just there to enhance the flavor/texture? Because if substituting soymilk would just change the flavor/texture, I'll go ahead and do that. On the other hand, if it will cause the whole fudging process to fail I'll just find another use for my chocolate.


Since I haven't ever actually made nonvegan fudge (I've only been a consumer), I can't actually answer your question as asked. I can, however, tell you that a fudge recipe involving Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, powdered sugar, and melted solid chocolate has turned out beautifully for me.

I'll hazard some guesses about soymilk just for the hell of it, though. I wouldn't try replacing cream with soymilk one-to-one, since soymilk really doesn't thicken the same way as cream. If you were willing to experiment with thickening agents (cornstarch? arrowroot? flour? agar?) you might be able to make it work, but it might be utterly disastrous also.

A good rule is that if you're replacing a thick milk product (especially if it's going to be heated) with a soy product, you'll want to put in some amount of either spackle (silken tofu or Better Than Cream Cheese) or cement mix (arrowroot, cornstarch, agar, etc).

Out of curiosity, what prompts you to try making vegan fudge?

Well, I've gone off of meat again (I spent a few years as a vegetarian back in high school, and a combination of reading meat-related products liability cases and the garlic beef at the Wai Lee Restaurant on Amsterdam pushed me back over the line) and I've been sort of dabbling with veganism. It used to be unthinkable; I was a huge milk fan, and would go through 2 gallons in a week. But in the last year or so I've switched to soy milk (and cut back a lot, given the expense of soy milk) and I'm starting to wonder if it might be plausible to go vegan.

Now, this isn't a commitment yet, so mostly what I'm doing is gradually cutting back and cutting items out. I really enjoy baking, so I'm looking to dabble in vegan baking right now.

And, from previous experience, I realize the importance of monitoring diet to make sure I get the appropriate vitamins and proteins, using supplements as neccessary, so I'm not jumping into it blind.

Ooooh! Vegan baking! You have just spoken the name of my personal god. I should warn you that I believe very strongly in proselytizing. If you don't want to be inundated with recipes and tips you should probably say so.

As a general rule, I'm utterly thrilled by people who aren't committed to veganism (and may not even intend to be) trying it out. A thousand people eating one more vegan meal a year than they would otherwise has the same effect overall as one person being a hardcore full-time vegan for that year, and has a much greater effect on the general population's understanding of the viability of a vegan lifestyle. This is why I feed my carnivore friends vegan chocolate chip brownies every time I see them. My campaigning is subtle and delicious.

You've got the right idea about not jumping in blindly, also, I think. I did actually jump in blindly and damn near killed myself in a protein-and-vitamin-deficiency-induced meltdown. It sounds like you did something not too much more successful at some point.

You know, I've been meaning to add a fourth category of actually-worthwhile blog posts on my site, that being general vegan information. Recipes, lists of useful food staples I've found that surprisingly didn't have animal products in them, nutritional advice cobbled together from my vegan cookbooks and reference materials, that kind of thing. When I get that up and running I will be sure to point you in its direction.

And tonight I will look up my fudge recipe for you. And maybe my death-by-chocolate-brownie recipe too, just in case you decide to abandon the fudge plan and need other ideas.

Oooo, I like brownies. I think the vegan information category would be really helpful; you should do it, when you get the time.

Do you do much with bread baking? That's actually my specialty, to the degree that I have one. Now, obviously, certain breads are vegan without any modifications, like french bread and sour dough and bagels (at least, I think bagels; the recipe I've always used is vegan, and just comes from a standard cookbook, but I make no guarantees that your local bagelry doesn't add milk or something to them). But my favorite breads to bake are Challah and Brioche, which involve, between them, milk, eggs, butter, and honey.

I'm planning to try to bake vegan Challah this weekend. I figure I can just use sugar for the honey (I've done so in the past), soymilk for the milk (I'm accustomed to Challah made with skim milk, which is just milk powder + water, so should be closely analagous to soymilk) and Ener-G for the eggs (If I can find Ener-G around here).

Gasp! Challah!

The obvious problem will be that it won't taste deliciously eggy. That might not be a problem; you might have to try it first to be sure. If it is a problem (i.e. the bread is too bland just tasting like bread), you might cautiously experiment with using nutritional yeast to flavor it. It won't taste like eggs, but it will add something slightly savory that might balance out the sweetness the way the eggs usually would.

If you can't tell, I'm agog to hear how this turns out. I've done a little dabbling in bread-making, but it definitely isn't my specialty (I can never seem to plan ahead well enough for the rising times and I find myself still making bread at 11:00 at night when I want to go to bed). Perhaps a tips-exchange is in order here: desserts for breads?

Oh, and here's what I know about bagels. As I understand it, barring cheese bagels and egg bagels, the only thing to watch out for is eggs in the glaze. Does your recipe use a glaze at all? I have a pretzel recipe that uses a baking soda bath to make the chewy outside, and I've been wondering if that's what non-eggy bagelries use also.

I think, with respect to bagels, we enter into a New York vs. Rest of the World debate. The recipe I have is ostensibly a New York bagel recipe. It calls for you to leave the dough to rise in the refrigerator overnight (though I don't because I've found that when I do my yeast gets lazy and decides not to rise at all) then, prior to baking, you boil them. As I recall, you put a pot of (possibly lightly salted?) water on high heat until it's boiling rapidly, and toss your bagel-shaped lumps of dough in a few at a time. You let them boil on one side for a minute, then flip them over to boil on the other side, then remove them and lay them out to drain on a rack.

It's my understanding that bagelries outside of New York (And a growing number of New York bagelries) use steam machines to toughen the outside of their bagels, because it's quicker and you can therefore put out more bagles faster. This is, according to most New Yorkers I've talked to, a sin.

Like a lot of things, however, I feel that the New York attitude here conflates "Different" with "Wrong." Steaming bagels produces a bagel that's chewy throughout. Boiling them produces a bagel that is chewy on the inside, but crisp on the outside.

Now, I've enjoyed the bagels I've gotten here, and the bagels I make myself, but I can't say they're head-and-shoulders above the bagels I've gotten elsewhere. There's one aspect of the New York attitude to bagels that I can get behind fully, and I hate to be offensive if you disagree: Bagels are meant to be salty. You can put poppy seeds and sesame seeds on them, but don't offend the essence of the bagel by putting a bunch of fruit or chocolate in them. There are plenty of fruity/sweet breakfast breads out there; don't befoul your bagels.

Yeah right. I mean, don't get me wrong, I have faith in you and all of that, but I wouldn't put money on you staying just a vegetarian for more than a year or two. Besides that, a vegan? No way. I give you about 5 months. And those will be 5 ridicule-filled months.

You know, telling me I can't do it is only going to push me harder.

I have innate stubbornness to thank for the fact that I'm approaching five years vegan. Well, that might be a lie. Four years, but, see, now I have to get to five because I said it.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on September 15, 2005 4:50 PM.

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