I grew up in the eighties, with lots of television, candy and television commercials for candy. It’s the ads for chocolates, candies, and all kinds of sweet confectionaries I really remeber best! My favourites were the toffifee commercials. They always included the process of making this layered confection: a hazelnut was thrown into a caramel shell, then they poured the nougat (gianduia) in and topped it with chocolate. I remember always being completely mesmerised by these little clips. By showing every single ingredient and the preparation steps, the ad people convinced me that toffifee was the perfect candy. Caramel, nougat (gianduia), roasted hazelnuts, and chocolate. What more could you want?
Unfortunately there is no vegan version of toffifee available. Every time I walk by the candy isle I think how weird that is. I mean, vegan products have come a long way since capitalism discovered them. There are so many vegan meats, cheeses, milks, yoghurts available at almost every grocery store in Germany. But vegan sweets? Almost none. Sure, you can get chocolate, cookies, and stuff like that. Most of them accidentaly vegan. Where are all my childhood favourites?
I do have a little suspicion though. (Okay, it’s a wild speculation.) Most vegan products are toutet as healthy alternatives to meat, dairy, cheese etc. Even though most of them really aren’t, it’s often seen that way. Meat is bad, plants are good. But you can’t do that with sugar ladden things, can you? Sugar is unhealthy! That’s why we can’t have nice things.
Even homemade vegan toffifee recipes are advertised on the internet as healthy alternatives to the real thing. They are called “guilt-free”. Even though they probably have exactly the same amount of sugar and fat! Which in that case comes from coconut sugar, coconut milk, and cashews. I mean, you can use these ingredients, if you feel like it. I love experimenting with different ingredients, too. But please don’t think these are healthier.
Coconut sugar, for example, is just a very, very expensive version of sugar with almost no health benefits compared to regular white sugar. Both cashews and coconut milk have a ton of fat. Maybe those “healthy” toffifees have a couple of trace minerals. But for minerals and vitamins I eat fruits and vegetables, not candy. Candy is candy! Indulgent, sweet, not healthy. It’s not supposed to be. It’s okay to make it with sugar, even with so called refined white sugar. (All sugars are refined, by the way.)
I personally think people should just enjoy their treats. Don’t bring religious or moral categories into play. Honestly, in most cases, you don’t have to avoid sugar. It’s not the devil, it’s just food. Every time I hear the phrase “guilt-free treat” I feel like banging my head against a wall. There is no guilt in sugar, just carbs.
That’s why this toffifee recipe is made with regular, traditional candy ingredients. My version is adapted from a non-vegan recipe that calls for two store-bought ingredients: prepared nougat paste and soft caramel candies. I am in a very lucky position to find these ingredients at both my local health food store and at the regular grocery store. I feel bad for throwing a recipe at you that might be hard to make. But you can find these ingredients online, too. Although I don’t know how hard it is to get gianduia paste outside of Germany. (Leave a comment and tell me. That is very helpful for others.)
Note: For this recipe, I had some old toffifee packaging I used as moulds. You can use silicone moulds suitable for cake pops, or moulds for chocolate making. As you can see in the following picture, they don’t have to be round. Simply use whatever you have on hand, just make sure they have a minumum diameter of approximately 3 cm (1 inch).
If you don’t have access to these ingredients, and if you have a bit more time, the blog Fork & Beans has a vegan coconut caramels recipe. (If you use that, leave out the salt!) Also, you can find my gianduia recipe here. That means, if you plan ahead you can make everything from scratch or you can use my shortcut and buy the main ingredients.
If you make this toffifee leave a comment below. This is very helpful to other readers. And please share your photos with me on Instagram, tag @seitanismymotor and #seitanismymotor. I love seeing your pictures and comments!
Vegan Toffifee (Toffifay) Caramel Candies
- 150 g soft caramel candies, homemade or store-bought
- 1 tbsp refinded coconut oil
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 20-25 roasted hazelnuts
- 100 g gianduia paste
- 50 g dark chocolate
- Place caramels, coconut oil, and sugar in a small pan.
- Melt caramels over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Once the caramels have melted and sugar and fat are dissolved, pour caramel mixture into prepared moulds.
- Only fill the molds a little less than half way.
- Place in the fridge for 5-10 minutes or until the caramel is cool enough to handle with your fingers.
- Using your fingers or the handle of a wooden spoon, press the caramel up to the side.
- Put the moulds back into the freezer and melt the gianduia paste.
- Place a hazelnut in the middle of each caramel filled mould and pour the nougat on top.
- Place in the fridge until the nougat has set.
- Melt chocolate and pour on top.
- Place back in the freezer until everything has set and remove from moulds.
- Store in the fridge.
I love everything you said about the misleading health focus on so many vegan foods. Vegan doesn’t mean it is magically a health food. We can enjoy refined white everything, fat, sugar, etc as much as anyone, it just doesn’t come from an animal. And in my case, hopefully not from a coconut. ;) One of the things that makes me so angsty is the use of stevia, which I find gives a revolting aftertaste to almost everything it touches. I saw some cool new vegan salad dressings in the supermarket, but the had stevia so they stayed on the shelf. Just use sugar!
Ha, ha. Yeah, I hate the taste of stevia, too. Just cannot do it.
Hear, hear! Desserts should be special treats, not everyday staples, and not health food. It’s all about balance, and sugar can definitely be a part of that equation.
I never actually had toffifee, but I certainly lusted after it. You homemade version looks even better than the original!
Thank you, Hannah! For me, desserts are daily staples, but I’d say about 80 % of my daily food intake comes from fruit, veg, beans, etc.
This is amazing – you’re so talented!! I’ve dreamt about eating these ever since I went vegan – so happy now ;)
Thank you, Ditte!
This looks so damn delicious, this used to de one if my favourite candies before going vegan. Are you using kuhbonbon soft caramels for these? Cab’t Wait to try them.
Thank you, Korinna! Yes, those are the ones I use.