Review: Sweet Vegan
Perhaps for some people, the answers to life’s toughest questions seem so obvious. For me, stewing over the simplest decision often takes over my day. My saving grace is in knowing that I can go home to my kitchen, where I delve into the therapeutic process of whisking, mixing, kneading and rolling my worries away.
Finding a new recipe book that coincides with my love for baking always brings a smile to my face. When I discovered Sweet Vegan, a book that offers “a collection of all vegan, some gluten-free and a few raw desserts,” I did a little happy dance. During a particularly difficult week, baking until dawn with a book like this was just what I needed—no difficult decisions or cranky co-workers required.
Author Emily Mainquist has already gained a loyal following through her Baltimore-based, 100% wind-powered, vegan bakery, Emily’s Desserts. For a year and a half, she baked, refined and tweaked more than 60 recipes in anticipation of her first recipe book. The 25-year-old isn’t formally trained, but her culinary interests were honed early in her grandmother’s kitchen.
I flipped through the book as soon as it arrived on my doorstep and I was immediately swooned by the array of full-colour photos and tempting titles. The recipes open the door to decadent desserts for those who make culinary choices based on personal, health and ethical considerations, but who are eager to try new things. If you’re a vegan who is intrigued by raw dessert-making or a baker who wants to try her hand at gluten-free baking, but you don’t want to invest in an entire recipe book in order to experiment, this book is for you.
My journey began with the peanut butter brownies, a creation that is one of the hardest to master as a vegan baker—many attempts seem to come out too cakey or too fudgy. Yet the balance of ingredients in Emily’s recipe yielded moist, rich and flavourful squares of chocolate goodness. Adding peanut butter and chocolate drizzle made for a decadent treat perfect for picnics or family gatherings.
Next, I browsed through the raw recipe options (of which, sadly, there are only three) and decided on the raw cinnamon raisin cookies. This very easy recipe calls for five ingredients and is super quick to make using a food processor. I loved how these formed into the perfect round cookie shape and are sweetened by raisins and topped with coconut.
Emily includes her one-of-a-kind, gluten-free flour mix recipe that is used as the base for the GF desserts in this book. Tempted by the photo of the gluten-free chocolate-chip zucchini bread squares, I immediately ran out to purchase the required ingredients. Within an hour came moist and delicious squares that had a deep brown sugar and cinnamon flavour, and without the gluey texture and chalky aftertaste that have been the results of more than a few GF recipes I’ve tried before. (By the way, you can find the recipe here.)
Other recipes include Black Bottoms, Triple Chocolate Cheesecake, Toffee Squares, Monkey Bread as well as a step-by-step approach to tempering chocolate and making chocolate cups (like the ones on the book cover). Plus, Emily is donating a percentage of the book’s proceeds to Farm Sanctuary. To me, that’s like the icing on the already fantastic vegan cake.