There’s a delightful shop in downtown St. Paul, MN called Candyland. It’s an old-fashioned candy store filled with chocolates, barks & brittles, candied nuts, gummy treats, popcorn and more! No matter what your age, you’re immediately transformed into the proverbial kid in a candy store when you walk through the doors.
Candyland’s Chicago Mix popcorn with cheese, caramel, and plain, is delicious and addicting. My co-worker, Brian, brings it to the office occasionally and we swarm like bees to honey over it and the stuff is gone in a flash.
Recently while we were devouring a bag of the Chicago mix, another co-worker was reminiscing about trips to downtown St. Paul and Candyland when she was a kid. Donna’s mom would buy a giant piece of Heavenly Hash and divvy it up among the children for a special treat. I love hearing great childhood memories, especially those related to food.
Donna’s story triggered a vague Heavenly Hash memory of my own of Mom making the candy in a round cake pan—I hadn’t thought about it in decades. I knew I had to make it, so I googled a few recipes and this one from The Kitchn came closest to Donna’s description (and my foggy memory) of thick blocks of chocolaty, nutty, marshmallowy goodness. The only aspect of the recipe I changed was to substitute peanuts for almonds.
I’m sure some of you are thinking, “But marshmallows aren’t vegetarian, Suzanne.” True, most marshmallows aren’t; they contain gelatin which typically comes from animal bones. While not always easy to find, there are vegetarian, vegan in fact, marshmallows that taste even better and are more flavorful that those typical grocery store brands containing things like tetrasodium pyrophosphate, artificial flavors, and the food dye Blue 1.
I’ve found vegan marshmallows in natural food stores and more recently my favorite brand, Dandies, online, but I think they can be found in some stores too, perhaps Whole Foods. Dandies come in regular and mini and are non-GMO verified. With the same memorable texture as traditional marshmallows, they work great for roasting/toasting over a campfire, in S’mores, or melting into treats like Rice Krispie Bars.
1 cup evaporated milk
3 tablespoons light corn syrup (this is not high-fructose corn syrup)
16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups roasted, salted peanuts, kept whole
2 cups miniature vegan marshmallows
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper with enough excess hanging over the sides of the pan to use as “handles;” spray paper with cooking spray.
Combine the sugar, evaporated milk and corn syrup in a medium-sized heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking often, and continue boiling the mixture until it reaches 218-220 degrees F. on an instant read thermometer, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Fold in chopped chocolate and the vanilla and stir until melted. Let cool for an additional 15-20 minutes, then fold in the peanuts and mini marshmallows.
Transfer the chocolate mixture to the prepared pan and spread evenly with a silicone spatula. Refrigerate the candy until firm, at least 2 hours. Using the parchment paper “handles,” remove the candy from the baking dish and cut into 16 squares.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before serving. Makes 16 bars.