Friday, October 24, 2008

October 17, 2008: Bittersweet Symphony Slice

A mere week after my lab had their annual culinary competition there was a department-wide picnic, with a bake-off for dessert. I rolled up my sleeves and had a shot at the Dietary Requirements category, producing this vegan and gluten-free specimen. It's a double-sized variation on the chocolate mousse slice that I made last week - here's what I altered:
  • First, I replaced the plain flour with a gluten free substitute. It's a mixture of corn, tapioca and rice flours. I found that this gluten-free base was quite brittle and my first attempt split in half when I tried to remove it from the tray. However, it tasted good and didn't ultimately go to waste. My second, more successful attempt was baked for less time.
  • Next, I went for a chocolate-coffee filling by stirring some instant coffee into the sweetened melted chocolate. I just kept adding a tablespoonful at a time; tasting, tasting until it was what I wanted.
  • Once the slice was set, I cut it into 36 pieces, each little more than an inch square, and topped them with a walnut half.
With that, I had a more complex mix and mini size to temper the richness of my first version. In honour of the coffee and walnut elements, I dubbed it Bittersweet Symphony Slice for the competition. And what do you know? It won!

I'm submitting this recipe to this month's coffee & tea-themed Monthly Mingle, hosted by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?.


  1. as promised, the sweetened condensed nothing recipe:

    one cup soy milk powder
    2/3 cup white sugar
    three tablespoons nondairy butter
    1/3 (maybe a bit more?) cup boiling water

    mix sugar and milk powder in a bowl. melt margarin into water.
    fold dry into wet ingredients. beat with an electric mixer for two minutes.

    makes for about a can on sweetened condensed milk. make it the night before you need it, though it keeps for a week.

    - a pleasure to meet you both!

  2. OMG...I near salivated on my keyboard from that picture. That is one serious looking block of chocolate goodness!!

    Love the idea of your work cook-offs. Unfortanately I have too many macho men in my neck of the woods, and their idea of cooking involves packets of two minute noodles ;-)

  3. That is sensational.

    Little wonder it won...well done!

  4. When do you actually do any work?!

    And, mmmmm... a much-deserved win I'm sure! The coffee sounds like a genius addition. Genius!

  5. congratulations - looks superb and love the name!

  6. Ohh we were just talking about how the next potluck should be gluten free, you could make this. I'm off to message you about yum cha now.

  7. YUM.

    cindy, just out of interest - i have nothing against vegetarianism and have considered it myself - what are your reasons for being vego? and are michael's the same?

    lena, what an idea... my sisters have been making donna hay's super caramel slice, and with 'sweetened condensed nothing' we could give it to our vegan friend. where do you get soy milk powder?

  8. Awesome, thanks Léna! I've tucked the recipe away in my 'to-make' file. 'Twas great to meet you too. :-)

    This one's pretty easy, Mellie! You'd be all over it in only a little more time than those noodles take. :-D

    Thanks, Lucy. :-)

    Ha, Lisa, that's a good question! I arrived at this picnic after hours, at least. :-)

    Thanks, Johanna! I've decided to start naming some of my dishes after more than just the ingredients going into them - it's more fun than resorting to 'chocolate slice', 'parsley pesto', etc.

    Kristy, I'd be happy to let the bittersweet symphony have an encore potluck performance!

    Thanks Cathy! I'll reply to your question in a second comment...

  9. So, Cathy, why am I vegetarian? Here are my main reasons in no particular order...

    - I couldn't kill a cow, pig, chicken or fish myself, so I don't think it's fair that I eat them.

    - It lowers my impact on the environment substantially.

    - I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything tasty... I hope this blog is testament to the wide world of fab meat-free foods out there!

    - I don't agree with modern-day methods of raising and killing animals.

    - I like sharing this with Michael - discovering new tastes and cooking for each other rocks! I reckon it's much easier to stay vegetarian when we're in it together, because the majority of our friends and relatives aren't vego at all.

    Michael can comment for himself (and I hope he will!), but I think you'd see a few of the same reasons on his list. :-)

  10. soy milk powder is there where you can't see it. I get mine from Allergy block on Elgin street. Should be available at most healthfood stores.

  11. Thanks Lena and Cindy, good to know!
    Those are the reasons that I have thought about becoming vegetarian.. doing it together sounds like the way to go! :)

  12. this is simply wonderful! exquisite in every sense!

  13. My first time here.. its absolutely gorgeous !!

  14. Meeta & Soma, thank you and welcome. :-)