Let me paint this picture. It's Friday night, the night before a camping trip. We are prepping veggies, packing extra socks, finding the flashlight. As the stuff for our trip piles up, I start to wonder why on earth we need all of these things for one night of roughing it in the wilderness with a few friends. Between a tent, sleeping bags, cooking gear, cooler, food, chairs to sit around the fire with, clothes, and toothbrushes, you can fill up a car. We humans are creatures of comfort, even when we are supposed to be living without the comforts of home and showers:)
With a whole car load of supplies, we forgot one thing. The Vegan Marshmallows.
After all the disappointment of leaving my vegan marshmallows in the dust, I was determined to give them a fair shot. Because, let’s be honest, what self respecting marshmallow gets eaten raw and is really appreciated? However, we just have one little problem, we live in a town house, with no grill and no way to make a real fire. What do you do? You whip out a fork, and the closest thing you have to chocolate on hand. Yup, we pierced that marshmallow and roasted it over the open stove. Fancy huh? It works, just turn on the eye to medium high and hold your marshmallow over it. Plus, unlike a campfire, as long as you don’t burn the marshmallow, there will never be smoke in your face.
In this post, I will talk about the two components that you saw in that delicious looking first picture- the marshmallow, and the chocolate spread. But, first let’s talk about the Dandies Marshmallows, which are, if we’re being honest, the stars of the s’more triology. These gooey morsels come from a company called Chicago Vegan Foods. The brand is dedicated to making tasty cruelty free products that are very similar to their animal product's counterpart. They make Teese (vegan cheese, and Temptation ice cream, and of course, Dandies.
The marshmallows contain no gelatin, the ingredient which makes most marshmallows not vegan, or corn syrup. The company also boasts on their website that these pillows of sweetness are the first marshmallows to be non-gmo certified. The marshmallows come in standard size or mini, but I had the standard. If you are interested, here are the ingredients for the regular sized:
Tapioca Syrup, Cane Sugar, Tapioca Starch, Filtered Water, Carrageenan, Soy Protein, Natural Vanilla Flavor.
In regards to cost, a bag will not break the bank. Each bag will cost you between 4 and 5 dollars. Which initially may feel a bit steep, but for me, it is not that pricey, especially considering that I really only eat about 1-2 marshmallows in one sitting. So, if you are a marshmallow addict that can crush a bag in a few minutes, then you may want to set aside some money in the bank…. And get in touch with MAA (Marshmallow Addicts Anonymous). But, since a bag can last me 12 or more servings, that 40 cents per dessert feels like a steal.
On to the most important part, the taste: These squishy love nuggets leave nothing of your marshmallow memories behind. Yep, they taste exactly the same! While I did not get my degree in marshmallowology, I feel confident in making that claim. Their texture is airy, fluffy, and perfectly puffy. If you pull apart the raw marshmallow, it gives a lovely resistance and is spongy and porous. The bite is springy but not chewy. Perfect marshmallow consistency. As for roasting, the exterior toasts evenly to that subtle golden crunch, and when bitten into, its insides are gooey and warm. The actual taste is mostly sweet and a hint of vanilla. The treat seems to be the the exact same sweetness as its non-vegan version (20g of sugar) in four pieces. In taste, texture and roast-ability, I feel assured that even the most tested boy/girl scout could not tell the difference.
Okay, let's talk hazelnut chocolate spread. This single serving packet is a Justin's product, and is really delicious, but could not outshine the magnitude of the elusive and delicious vegan mallow. If you are interested in more info about Justin's or their other products, I have a review here: Justin's Peanut Butter Cups. However, I do want to pay this product the homage it deserves.
Firstly, the product I bought comes in a small packet (1.15 oz), but you can also buy it by the 16 ounce jar. The ingredients in Justin's nut butters are always clean and are sourced in a way that is respectful to the planet. (See my discussion about Justin's use of palm oil in the review above) Their ingredients are as follows:
Dry Roasted Hazelnuts, Dry Roasted Almonds, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa, Organic Cocoa Butter, Palm Fruit Oil*, Vanilla, Sea Salt.
Each single packet costs approximately 1-2 dollars, which is perfect for the occasional treat. Especially, if you love nut butters like I do. I can sit down with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon and feel decadent. I might consider joining PBAA (Peanut Butter Addicts Anonymous). However, doing that with Justin's might put you in the poor house. But, you will really enjoy eating your way to abject poverty. A jar can cost $11.99. We go through a jar of PB a week. With a Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, that would run you 624 dollars a year, without tax!
Justin's Hazelnut Chocolate spread tastes like a less-sweet Nutella. So, if you miss Nutella's creamy, chocolatey goodness as a vegan, Justin's has got you covered. The spread is very smooth and comes out of the packet very easily. The chocolate is not too heavy handed, but is still definitely a major flavor. The nuttiness of the hazelnuts and the chocolates marry well. We liked this spread, and I am sure that it would be lovely on toast and with fruit. We tried it alone, with an apple, and on the marshmallow. By far, the marshmallow was the best. The apple was not a perfect pairing. However, I would bet that strawberries would make an incredible match-up.
At the end of our impromptu stove campfire, I was blown away by the Dandies. Which was surprising, since I am in no danger of a marshmallow addiction. Foods, like Peeps, never held their sway over me. But, these cylinders of softness are so on the money, that I can't help but praise them. They are the ultimate easy switch. Justin's delivered a solid product. And, they made a great topping, but in the "s'more arena," the sumptuous golden marshmallow won the day.