Cheese Your Hunger Away: Vegan Combos
After updating this site’s F.A.Q., I decided I needed to veganize Combos, since no one else had. Much like meat ravioli, this is an untapped market in the vegan world. Using a recipe for hard pretzels and a non-vegan homemade vegan attempt from the world wide web ( here and here ), this is what I came up with.
For the dough:
1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F), divided
2 tsp light brown sugar, divided
1¼ tsp active dry yeast
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ cups bread flour
½ tsp salt
For the baking soda bath:
8 cups water
½ cup baked soda*
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
For the vegan egg wash/topping:
½ cup water
1 Tbsp cornstarch
For the cheese filling:
2 cups raw cashews
¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomato
2 cups water
½ cup water
½ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp dijon mustard
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp paprika
Soak cashews and sun-dried tomatoes for 2 hours-ish.
Make the “Baked” soda. Spread baking soda on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour.
Oil a large bowl for dough to rise in.
In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup warm water and ½ teaspoon brown sugar. Stir in the yeast and let dissolve. Let it activate and foam up for 5-10 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir remaining 1½ teaspoons brown sugar, flours and salt and combine. Add yeast mixture and remaining ¾ cup warm water; stir until a dough forms.
Take out dough and knead dough by hand on a lightly floured surface 5 to 10 minutes until smooth, satiny and elastic. Shape dough into a ball and place in the oiled bowl. Cover bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place 1 hour until doubled.
Once the baked soda is baked, raise heat to 325.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down risen dough and roll out thin. Cut thin strips, then cut strip into small rectangles, securing around a wooden dowel, Combos-style.
Prepare the baking soda bath: In a large wide pan, bring water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add baked soda and brown sugar and stir to dissolve.
Carefully place wooden dowel into simmering bath. Poach 15 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon or tongs and return to lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dowels.
Brush tops of rods with vegan egg wash, then sprinkle with salt. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking, until rods are a deep golden brown and hardened.
Transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
Drain soaked cashews and sun-dried tomatoes and discard liquid. Process all cheese ingredients in a food processor, scraping down sides, until a creamy, pipeable cheese spread forms.
Put cheese mixture in pastry bag with small tip. Let sit in the fridge as pretzels continue to cool.
When pretzels are cool and hard, pipe cheese into pretzel centers.