Review: Vegan Desserts

If you’re connected to the vegan food scene, you’ll know of the lovely Hannah Kaminsky. She published her first vegan cookbook during her teen years and has since created numerous e-books, developed a successful food blog and is sought after for her stunning food photographyand food styling skills.

Hannah’s second book is a mature hardcover called Vegan Desserts, and those looking for something new to wow a crowd are sure to appreciate the more unique bent to its collection. Hannah is well-known for her clever flavour combinations, and this book proves her endless creativity with recipes like carrot cake ice cream, blueberry-beet pates de fruit, watermelon bombe, grapefruit gems, and even a treat for your pet in the form of canine cookies. The book is also seasonally organized and includes a thorough index specifically for allergies.

While my favourite whole-grain and nut flours get little attention in this book, she does make use of a few gluten-free and white flour combinations while still holding true to traditional textures and tastes. Vegan alternatives like nondairy sour cream and cream cheese, silken tofu, soy yogurt, and Earth Balance buttery sticks are also common ingredients in the recipes.

Admittedly, I didn’t approach this book entirely in the correct order. Diving straight into the more dense and comforting desserts of the autumn section, the ingredients of the rum raisin brownies sounded uniquely appealing. Rum, cocoa, coffee powder and garbanzo bean flour result in dark, fudge-like squares with a scattering of chewy raisins and chocolate chips throughout.

In the summer section, Hannah describes her cherry-berry peanut butter cobbler as a sophisticated approach to the classic PB & J combo. Fresh cherries and blueberries form the base for a peanut-butter-enriched cobbler dough to rest on. Quite possibly an execution error on my part, the cobbler dough didn’t rise much, but the flavour pairing easily won me over at first bite.

A spring favourite, the coco-nut macaroons are a twist on the traditional. Naturally gluten-free, the basic dough combines crunchy peanut butter and shredded coconut to form dense and chewy delights with chocolate dipped bottoms. They are the perfect sort of thing to liven up a cookie platter. At first read, the recipe seemed confusing until I checked her errata page for the correct instructions, so make sure you check there, too.

The highlight of Hannah’s book, in my opinion, is the last chapter, called Components and Accompaniments. It is every vegan baker’s answer to those hard-to-find ingredients—make them yourself! The chapter includes recipes like shortcut marzipan, dulce do coco, caramel syrup, nonpareils and graham cracker crumbs. Very softly set, the whipped cream recipe was a disappointment when it didn’t turn out nearly as thick as the one shown in the accompanying photo. The resulting cool, creamy topping complements a bowl of fresh strawberries but not much else. With a bit of tweaking, I can definitely taste the makings of a winner here.

As if all this doesn’t whet your appetite enough, let’s not forget how Hannah has been teasing us with photos and promises that her most sought-after recipe would be included in this book—meringue. I’ve never been able to recreate the texture that is imparted from whipped egg white and sugar, and I was curious to see how she did it. I was hoping Hannah’s recipe would come in the form of lemon meringue pie, but alas, she makes it into meringue kisses!

Overall, Vegan Desserts is an inspiring book for any dessert lover. Its stunning photos and author expertise are things you won’t find anywhere else. Considering the overwhelming list of recipes included, I would hardly consider my review to be exhaustive, and so I strongly urge all vegan bakers out there to treat yourself to this book. Happy baking!



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5 Responses to “Review: Vegan Desserts”

  1. VeganLisa — June 21, 2011 @ 12:27 am

    A very thorough and thoughtful review – thank you Nicole. I better there is a very happy and well-fed husband at your house.xo

  2. foodfeud — June 21, 2011 @ 4:17 am

    Fun, fun! I just made the coffee poppy-seed cake the other day and really enjoyed it. I was holding off from recipes not from spring and summer but I was drawn to those first, too. The rum raisin brownies look great!

  3. Pure2raw Twins — June 21, 2011 @ 11:13 am

    Hannah is great. Excited to give her cookbook a try, everything looks great!

  4. Hannah — June 21, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

    Aww, not only is your review very thorough and well written, but your photos are wonderful! I'm so happy that you were happy overall with my book, but naturally I wish it had been perfect. ;) Thank you for your honest review though! As for that meringue pie- You can very easily take the crust from the strawberry-kiwi pie, lemon curd from the triple citrus cupcakes, and then top it with the meringue… Voila!

  5. Nicole — June 21, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

    VeganLisa: Thanks, Lisa! Blake and his co-workers all benefitted from this review.foodfeud: Thanks! All the recipes in this book look and sound fantastic. I can't wait to try the coffee poppy-seed cake, too.Pure2raw Twins: Yes, Hannah is pretty amazing, isn't she?Hannah: I'm happy that you're happy with the review :) Thanks for the tip regarding the lemon meringue pie. I will definitely be making one very soon.

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