Nadiya's Vegan Wagon Wheels
These vegan wagon wheels, inspired by Nadiya, have had quite a journey. Said journey began in August, when we set out to create a vegan, gelatin-free wagon wheel, because no one should go without a wagon wheel if they want one. Since the challenge started, these have been vigorously tested and have seen many rounds of biscuits, marshmallow fillings and chocolate coatings. The result of months of testing is finally here in the form of this recipe, which in our eyes, is as accurate as it gets.
The component that saw most iterations in this recipe was the filling. Because regular wagon wheels have a very firm marshmallow filling rather than a cream or fluff, the first attempts saw a few different versions of vegan marshmallows themselves. None of them had the same sticky and chewy qualities as the originals however, which led to the attempt to create a very firm marshmallow fluff instead. Several attempts later and here we are, with a sweet, sticky and stiff fluff and has the same qualities as the original filling. If you’re just in the mood for vegan marshmallow fluff on its own, reduce the xanthan gum to ½ tsp and the cream of tartar to ¼ tsp, which will create a slightly softer and less firm fluff that’s suited for spreading.
Another element which was modified endlessly here was the biscuit. The first attempts were too thick and stiff, whereas later attempts remained too thick yet were crumbly and fell apart when being coated in chocolate. The final version is made up of a vanilla and cocoa shortbread-like biscuit that’s thick enough to hold the filling and be sandwiched, but thin enough that it doesn’t overpower everything else flavour and size wise. These might feel like they’re too thin and fiddly going into the oven but trust the process, they’re just right.
40 mins (+ chilling)
200g plant based butter, at room temp
90g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
290g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, refrigerated overnight
¾ tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp cream of tartar
100g icing sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
Filling & Coating:
60g strawberry jam
1 tbsp water
400g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Start by making the biscuits. In a large bowl, combine the butter and caster sugar. Use an electric mixer to beat it together for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat it in for 1 minute.
Sift the flour, cocoa and salt into the bowl. Use a spatula to fold the flour into the creamed butter until just combined, then use an electric mixer to beat it for 1-2 minutes until completely incorporated.
Transfer the dough onto a sheet of cling film or parchment paper and use your hands to press it together into a disc. Place the dough in the fridge and let it rest for at least 40-45 minutes.
While the dough chills, prepare the marshmallow filling. Drain the chickpeas over a large bowl (reserving the chickpeas for another use). Add the cream of tartar and xanthan gum to the bowl, and use an electric mixer to whip the mixture on high speed for 3-4 minutes, until it reaches soft peaks.
Add the sugar, and continue to whip the mixture on high speed for 6-7 minutes, until it’s very thick and sticky. Add the vanilla extract and salt and whip for a final minute. Set the marshmallow fluff aside.
Preheat the oven to 170˚C fan/190˚C conventional and line two large baking trays with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge. Lightly flour a surface then roll the dough out until it’s around ⅛ cm thin.
Use a 7cm round cutter to punch out biscuit rounds, and transfer them to the parchment paper as you go.
Collect the scraps, re-roll them and repeat the process with the rest of the dough - you should have around 28 rounds by the end.
Bake the biscuits for 10-11 minutes, rotating the trays half way through. Remove them from the oven and let them cool down to room temperature. Flip all of the biscuits around so the bottom is facing up and they’re ready to be filled.
Transfer the marshmallow fluff into a piping bag. Trim the edge off the piping bag and evenly pipe over one of the biscuit bases, leaving a little space along the edges as the filling will spread when sandwiched together. It helps to pipe in a circle, starting from the inside and piping outwards). Try not to overload the biscuit with filling - the height of the marshmallow fluff should be around ½ cm.
Repeat that process with 13 more biscuits, ensuring to leave half of the biscuits plain to sandwich the wagon wheels together.
Combine the jam and water in a small bowl and stir to combine it. Place a tsp of jam in the centre of each filling and use a knife or offset spatula to gently spread the jam over the fluff.
Place the remaining biscuits over the jam, sandwiching them together. Gently press the biscuit down. Use a piece of kitchen roll to wipe the edges if any filling has been slightly pressed out.
Transfer the wagon wheels into the fridge and let them chill for at least 20 minutes. This will make it easier to coat them in chocolate, as they will hold their shape.
Next, melt the chocolate. Add 350g of the chocolate to a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir the chocolate over the hot water until it’s completely melted.
Remove the bowl from the heat, then fold in in the remaining 50g of finely chopped chocolate and stir until it’s fully melted.
Remove the wagon wheels from the fridge and set them next to the chocolate. Next, line an empty tray with parchment paper to place the wagon wheels onto once they’re coated in chocolate.
Use a fork to carefully dip the first wagon wheel in the chocolate, submerging it to coat it entirely. Lift the wagon wheel, then gently shake the fork to remove any excess chocolate. Transfer the wagon wheel onto the prepared tray and repeat the process with the remaining wagon wheels.
Let the cooled wagon wheels cool and harden. You can use a microplane to remove excess chocolate if it has accumulated around the bottom of the edges (optional).
Store the wagon wheels in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
by Valentina Concordia
Valentina is our Food Editor, who dreams up our tasty dishes and recipes for our social channels. She has loads of experience cooking up a storm in Italian kitchens, so it’s no surprise she can’t live without good-quality olive oil (don’t come between her and her olive oil) and fresh pasta.