2011-06-26

Vegan Blondies and a Review of Enjoy Life Mega Chunks


It's no secret that I'm a fan of Enjoy Life Foods, so when they gave me the opportunity to review two of their new products, I leaped at the chance.  The Double Chocolate Crunch Granola will have to wait for another day, though, because I couldn't resist starting with the new semi-sweet chocolate Mega Chunks.

The chunks are a high quality chocolate made from only three ingredients, evaporated cane juice, natural chocolate liquor (non-alcoholic) and non-dairy cocoa butter, and are manufactured in a dedicated nut and gluten-free facility.  Although they are free of all of the "Big 8" allergens, the facility does also process soy and dairy.  The equipment, however, is dedicated allergen free, and Enjoy Life routinely tests ingredients for contamination.  The Kid absolutely loved the chunks, and our only complaint was that we only had one bag!
When I first saw the bag of chunks with the picture of a chocolate chip cookie bar on the front, I'll confess that my first thought was "I want a blondie."  Conveniently, there was even a recipe for gluten free "Decadent Blondies" on the back of the bag.  Although I will occasionally indulge in some wheatless baking for my local gluten free guinea pigs, I decided to be contrary and immediately moved vegan, nut-free bars to the top of my recipe to-do list.  After a few tries, the result was dense, chewy and delicious, satisfying all of my chocolate chip cookie cravings, and creating one of my family's new favorite cookies.


Chocolate Chunk Blondies
(Click here for printable recipe.)

Dry Ingredients:
2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 C plain or vanilla soy milk
2/3 C brown sugar
1/3 C granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbs (1/2 stick) melted dairy free margarine

Additional:
1 C chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line an 8" by 8" pan with aluminum foil.  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, whisk together and set aside.  Mix soy milk, sugars and vanilla extract in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Melt margarine, then stir it into the wet ingredients, too.  (Mix margarine in last to keep it from clumping up.)  Stir wet ingredients into dry, then mix chocolate chunks into cookie dough.

Spread the resulting sticky dough into aluminum lined pan.  Bake for 33 to 35 minutes and until the edges are slightly browned.  Allow to cool completely, then slice into 16 squares.


A few notes about the recipe:

  • I began with several browned butter chocolate chip cookie recipes when developing these bars, and it's important to use a dairy free margarine with a good flavor.  I used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks.
  • If you don't have an 8" by 8" pan, go ahead and use a 9" by 9", but shorten the bake time to about 30 minutes.
  • The center has an almost marzipan like texture to it, and if there's not a tree nut allergy in your family, these would be absolutely fantastic with almond extract instead of vanilla.  Back in my carefree, childless days, I used to occasionally splash some amaretto into chocolate chip cookie dough, and that wouldn't be bad, either!
  • The cookies really do need to cool completely before being sliced, otherwise you'll have an incredibly gooey mess on your hands.


I'm grudgingly sharing my blondies with:


Blogger Disclosure:
I was provided with free samples, but not paid for this review, although I did win the Enjoy Life Cookies for Everyone Sweepstakes a few years ago.  My opinions are, as always, my own, though possibly suspect as a self confessed chocoholic.

21 comments:

SarahB said...

These look really yummy! :)

Mihl said...

These are the most delicious blondies I have ever seen!

Carlyn said...

This looks really tasty! I also like how they're low fat as far as blondies go. I would really like to try this but I don't have any allergies so I'll probably use butter (I may brown it, too) and full-of-dairy chocolate chips :P

That almond extract suggestion also sounds like a good one!

Libby said...

SarahB & Mihl, thanks!

Carlyn, good catch on the quantity of margarine! The first batch I made had twice as much, and was very greasy. Lower fat was a happy accident. Please let me know how your full on dairy version turns out!

The Vanilla Bean Baker said...

These blondies look like they wouldn't last long around anyone's home! I love the size of those chocolate chunks!

Hannah said...

So amazing- Both the blondies and the chips! Enjoy Life's mini chips have been my favorite chocolate chips around, so I can't wait to find these larger chunks... No sign of them yet near me, but hopefully it won't be too much longer.

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

These vegan blondies sound amazing!
We are in our final week of Get Grillin' - Dessert is the theme and we would love if you submitted up to any 3 recipes (they don't have to be grilled) to our link up. This one would be perfect! This week we have a Rouxbe Cooking School giveaway. http://su.pr/2YaIiV

Lisa M said...

I tried this recipe over the weekend, and my dairy/egg allergic son gobbled them up!! They are fantastic and YOU are amazing... thank you very much for sharing your great recipes and for making life easier. Your blueberry muffins are the perpetual substitute given to my 3 year old when others in his daycare class are eating any baked goods. He loves them... again, thank you.

Alina said...

Thanks so much for the kind words everyone! We're really happy that you guys are getting excited about the Mega Chunks. They're very new to the market and appearing in more new stores daily. We hope you will be able to find them near you very soon!

- Alina
Marketing Associate
Enjoy Life Foods

ChandraKay said...

I'm having to eliminate soy also, so I tried this with my Earth's Balance Coconut Spread and So Delicious Coconut [Vanilla] milk.
I'm changing my diet for the benefit of my 9 month old breastfed (and so we are now learning, allergic) daughter and I'm so used to my traditional baking methods that my extremely picky self was afraid to try any of the sweets I really wanted to eat.
I didn't have chunks on hand, but rather mini chips. I was freaking out about the possibility of these turning doody brown with all those mini's (LOL) so I only used a half cup... next time I'll try 3/4. :) (And a full cup the next recipe if it needs it...) >:)
These were just amazing! Thick and chewy and great flavor, in my opinion.
Thank you for sharing!!!

Joann@womaninreallife said...

I can't wait to try these. I always use Earth Balance margarine and I recently tried the Enjoy Life Mega Chunks and liked them. I love it when I have the ingredients for a recipe available! One less trip to the store. Thanks.

itchylittleworld said...

These look amazing! I will give these a try this holiday. Thanks!
Congrats on your top 25 Food Allergy Mom Blog nomination! I'm listed as well and it's given me an idea. I'm starting a blog hop for anyone dealing with allergies, eczema, or asthma - adults or parents helping their children. If you're interested in joining, please visit my page and post a comment asking to join. http://itchylittleworld.wordpress.com/blog-hop/

Hopefully we can create a circle of blogs to support each other in battling these conditions.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you!
Jennifer

Grandma Linda said...

My grandsons loves these including the non allergic one. I cant find the chocolate chunks in our little town but the mini chips work well too. Thanks for all these wonderful recipes.

Jen said...

I was searching the internet for an "eggless" recipe when I came across these blondies. I am not vegan so i used regular milk and semi sweet chocolate chips and they came out absolutely fantastic. so i decided to make them a second time and replace the butter with applesauce (even less fat!!) and they were excellent, a tiny bit "cake"-ier, but almost identical to your original recipe. I added raisins to my second attempt as well. PERFECT! this is one of the best recipes I have found in a long time. thank you so much. I found I needed a longer cooking time though...mine took like 40 minutes.

recipes for kids said...

I loved your recipe, your blueberry muffins are perpetual substitute given to my 3-year old when others in his daycare class.

Emily said...

I have a potentially stupid question...why'd you make these into blondies rather than just regular chocolate chip cookies? The batter seems to be the same to me...

Libby said...

Hi Emily, it's not a stupid question at all! There were several reasons. Blondies have a lovely toothsome chewiness that a thinner cookie just can't achieve. The huge chocolate chunks worked much better in these deep dish cookies, too. The little squares are also perfect for slipping into lunch boxes. Mostly, though, the dough is just too sticky to be scooped into individual cookies without incredible aggravation. You can think of blondies (and some other bars) as the lazy person's cookie!

Anonymous said...

Just put the blondies in the oven...mmmmm they look delish! The consistancy was cookie like and i added caramel bits and white chocolate in mine because i cant have the caffine in chocolate. Hopefully they turn out as good as the picture :) and i know they will!

Anonymous said...

here's my version - almost no fat & no refined sugar - instead of semi sweet chip, use what ever you have - I've used dried blueberries, dreis cherries & white chips:
Secret Ingredient Blondies

1 ¾ c whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
¼ t cinnamon (optional)
½ c pureed white beans (cannellini, chick pea, etc.)
¼ c brown sugar
½ c pureed fruit (apple, peach, pear, banana)
¼ c juice (apple, pineapple, cider)
½ t vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/3 c chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. In a large mixing bowl combine oat flour, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk pureed beans, fruit puree, brown sugar, juice & vanilla extract.

Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir just until combined. If dough seems too dry, add 1-2 T juice to the mixture. Stir in the chips.

Spread in to an 8 x 8 pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, until edges are just turning light brown and middle is firm.

julie rowell said...

These are really yummy, however, mine turned out more like a scone or muffin consistency. This will be great for brunches or breakfast but I'm wondering what I may have done wrong to not get the chewyness of a Blondie. Any suggestions!

Libby said...

Hi Julie! It sounds as if your fat/flour ratio is off. Are you stirring your flour and then dipping your measuring cup into it? That will give you the most accurate measurement. Packing flour into the cup will give your too much of it. Did you use tub margarine instead of stick margarine or shortening? The tub margarine has water in it, so isn't appropriate for cooking or baking. Finally, you should also use an oven thermometer to make sure your temperature isn't too high, since that can dry them out a bit. I hope this helps!