Directions for Decadence: Recipes to Impress Your Guests this Holiday Season

November 15th, 2008 · Lisa · book review, Recipes, Review, Sweet · Comments

For those of you looking to indulge your sweet tooth and impress your friends, family members and colleagues this holiday season, I have two great recommendations for you.

Vegan desserts have certainly evolved over the years, especially with the almost obscenely delicious recipes provided in collections like Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Just search flickr or tastespotting to see the incredible culinary achievements of vegans all over the world using cruelty-free ingredients. If you feel most at home with a rolling pin or piping bag in-hand then you should probably check out the following titles:

1. My Sweet Vegan: Passionate about dessert
Hannah Kaminsky published this book during her teen years-but you would never guess that she hasn’t had extensive pastry training when you flip through the awe inspiring photos that fill the pages of this book. I love the range of recipes that she offers. She goes well beyond the typical chocolate chip cookie, with recipes like Mexican Chocolate Tart, Root Beer Float Cupcakes and Green Tea Tiramisu.

I have heard many people rave about Hannah’s recipes and have had some personal success (my brother is now addicted to the peanut butter bombs), but I generally cut back on the sugar in her recipes as they are definitely designed for those who crave a more a decadent treat. Hannah provides a remarkable selection of sweet indulgences that will truly impress anyone (I mean it!) and her careful attention to presentation and photography will inspire you to create your own culinary masterpieces.

2. The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks’ Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets
Colleen Patrick Goudreau has had a strong presence in the vegetarian movement for many years, offering cooking classes and writing for many veg-oriented publications. Her baking tome has garnered her a great deal of acclaim-even winning VegNews’ praise as cookbook of the year.

The Joy of Vegan Baking is a very comprehensive cookbook, with a huge range of luscious recipes, tons of information about the unique challenges involved in vegan baking and details about various ingredients. I appreciate that Colleen celebrates a whole-foods diet and uses less processed ingredients in her recipes than other chefs. As the title suggests, this book is like the Joy of Cooking for vegans, as it provides a vast array of veganized dessert classics.

I have made many of her recipes to share with friends and colleagues and have yet to find anything that hasn’t turned out incredible. The recipes are really easy to follow, the pictures are beautiful and encourage me to get out my whisk and the vanilla extract.

If you have a baker in your gifting-circle this book would make a great addition to anyone’s recipe collection (vegan, vegetarian and omnivore alike) as it provides healthier alternatives to everyone’s favourite delights. I am particularly taken by Colleen’s raw-strawberry pie with chocolate chunks. My friends could not get enough of this sweet celebration of July’s harvest.

Sample Recipe:
Butterscotch Blondies from My Sweet Vegan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175C) and lightly grease an 8 X 8 inch square baking pan.
Makes 9 to 12 bars.

1/4 Cup Margarine
1 1/2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
6 Ounces Vanilla Soy Yogurt
1/3 Cup Plain Soy Creamer
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1. Melt the margarine and pour it over the brown sugar in a medium bowl, stirring to coat.
2. Add the vanilla, soy yogurt and soy Creamer and stir until homogeneous.
3. Slowly incorporate the flour with the baking powder, stirring just enough to arrive at a smooth mixture.
4. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Baker for 25-30 minutes until the sides begin to pull away from the pan and the top is fairly firm.

The blondies may still be slightly gooey in the inside, but they will continue to cook once removed from the oven. Besides, they are “fudgy” bars, so you don’t want them to dry out! Wait for the blondies to cool completely before cutting.

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