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May 31, 2011

Let Us Eat Cake: Delectable Vegan Desserts

Scrumptious sweets are cholesterol-free

Guide to Meat-Free Meals

  • Michelle Riley/The HSUS

Are sweets your downfall and your delight? Nearly any dessert—including berry cobbler, pumpkin pie, chocolate chip cookies, pudding, and even cheesecake—can be made without animal ingredients and with no loss in scrumptiousness. Just ask Gourmet magazine, which praised vegan desserts as “indistinguishable from their conventional counterparts.” As an added bonus, your “guilty indulgences” will be cholesterol-free.

If you learned to bake with eggs, butter, and dairy, omitting these ingredients might sound like a disaster-in-waiting. But don’t worry—dozens of health-, animal-, and eco-conscious chefs have preceded you. Their cookbooks and blogs will teach you about easy swaps, such as soy margarine for butter; soy milk for dairy; and mashed banana, oil, ground flaxseeds, or Ener-G egg replacer for eggs.

You'll go nuts for Alicia Silverstone's Crispy Peanut Butter Treats »

If your sweet tooth calls for a quicker fix, most grocery stores carry a selection of dairy-free ice cream treats, and some also sell ready-made vegan cakes, pies, cookies, and candy bars. Many of the vegan products on supermarket shelves were pioneered by people like Sara Sohn who, inspired by her love of Rice Krispie Treats, spent 10 months of trial and error to create a gelatin-free marshmallow (gelatin is a common thickening agent derived from skin and other slaughterhouse byproducts).

Sohn’s cruelty-free version was so delicious that her friends urged her to make marshmallow production a full-time job. Launched in 2005, the Sweet & Sara company now sells marshmallows in a variety of flavors, as well as Smores cookies and the rice cereal treats that motivated her quest. Her products are popular with herbivores and omnivores alike and have won accolades from Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, and the Food Network. Three of the company’s signature treats are the crowning jewels on this rich cupcake recipe.

Rocky Road Cupcakes

Makes 12

Cupcakes

1 ¼ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
1 cup nondairy milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1⁄3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup vegan chocolate chips (optional)
Sweet & Sara Vanilla Marshmallows

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Line one 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers. Set aside.

3. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and optional espresso powder. Mix in the milk, vinegar, oil, and vanilla. Mix together until smooth. Add optional chocolate chips.

4. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds full. Add one Sweet & Sara marshmallow in the center of each. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

5. Cool the cupcakes completely before icing with chocolate frosting.

Frosting

½ cup soy margarine, melted
2⁄3 cup cocoa powder
1⁄3 cup soy, rice, or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Toppings (optional)

Sweet & Sara Mini Marshmallows
Sweet & Sara Rocky Road Bark (chopped into pieces)
Sweet & Sara Cinnamon Pecan Marshmallows

1. In a large bowl, mix margarine and cocoa together until combined.

2. Add milk and vanilla; beat until smooth.

3. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Adjust with more milk or confectioners’ sugar if necessary.

4. Top with one or more of the Sweet & Sara toppings.

Read more from the Guide to Meat-Free Meals »

 

 

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