Before I went vegan, my absolute favorite cookie was Alternative Baking Company’s “double chocolate decadence.” When warmed and served with ice-cream, it became a high-class dessert, and I immediately abandoned my former lunch break treat.
One time at work, after a quick scavenge through the cookie basket, I pulled a cookie out eagerly, and my coworker wrinkled his nose, “You really like those, huh? They’re the vegan cookies.”
“Yeah, they’re delicious!” I answered back, interested that my chosen delight was vegan. Did that really mean anything though? What was the issue with a “vegan” dessert?
He shrugged, and added that he could never get into the vegan sweets. I, however, could live perfectly content with these cookies being the only dessert left in the world to satisfy my sweet tooth. That would be great for animals too, in fact.
I hadn’t thought much about the exchange until Giovanni and I decided (and realized we should) to go vegan after being vegetarian for a month (April). The decision daunted me at first, as I had set my heart on baking and working on a duel career between baker and writer. How could I bake without milk, butter, and eggs? I didn’t bake for awhile. Even cooking dinner felt shaky, but I never doubted our decision and felt much happier with everything I created.
Eventually, I dabbled in vegan baking. My first attempt were chocolate cupcakes. They were… okay? Only on the first day though. They had zero flavor and were crunchy. I won’t proclaim all crunchy cake or cupcakes bad, because I’m sure there’s something out there that is absolutely delicious and mixes the idea of fluffy and crunchy, but these weren’t it. Giovanni sweetly praised them and my efforts, and ate quite a few. I did too. When we mined the cupcake caverns for the fluffy gold, they were enjoyable. But like I said, the cupcakes were pretty goldless.
My baking endeavors improved after that. I learned to make fudgy brownies and red velvet cookies. The cookies are the best cookies I have ever tried and even out due the ABC chocolate cookies (but don’t worry, ABC, I’m still your biggest cookie fan!!). For Giovanni and Memo’s birthdays, I made them each a brownie cake with vegan butter frosting. Again, another success. Vegans really can make awesome desserts, just give us a chance!
There’s still plenty to improve at, but I’m currently in a one-year culinary arts program to learn more about the craft and want to either inspire veganism through tasty treats at my own bakery or work at an already operating one. Either way, I look forward to helping shed positive light on veganism through vegan cuisine, and educate both others and myself further about alternative cooking, health and nutrition, and the impacts our choices have on the environment.
And with that said… after classes on Monday, I went to the vegetarian-vegan market next to our school in hopes of tracking down an ABC cookie. No luck, so I tried to find something else to try. I grabbed a double chocolate brownie (wow, I just peaked at the wrapper and didn’t even know it was “double chocolate;” what is with me and chocolate on chocolate on chocolate?). After that, I wandered through the entire store. Despite familiarizing myself with the setting, each time I go in I discover new wonders. Which is exactly what that day brought.
I selected a bag of Kettle chips for Giovanni, and then wandered through the baking section to the ice-cream section, and finally, the chocolate section. I shopped hungry, and I know that shopping hungry is asking for a lot more food and spending than necessary. I tried using my head while browsing, choosing only products that truly interested me (current obsession: caramel). Finally, I decided to buy a mini chocolate haul and share it with you (my justification to splurge a little)!
This post is unsponsored and my own selection of products. I am biased with the flavors, as I wanted to keep the haul personal and share what I like, but I’d also like to try another selection of flavors – probably when I have a better cash flow. I hope at least one of these products call out to you, and be sure to tell me about your experience!
I’ve only tried a vegan store-bought brownie from Whole Foods, and it was crumbly with little flavor. I can make brownies easily now, so I typically avoid store-bought, but my chocolate cravings drove me to try this one. The thickness came in about 2 1/2 inches, and it felt like a solid, chocolatey brownie. That concerned me a bit as to whether or not it would be soft and chewy or dry. It was dry and crumbles a little, but not too much… now, the taste? The flavor was strong and rich, like a classic brownie, and I even meant to save some for Giovanni to try, but it ended up being too good for me to resist… I still saved him some though! He liked it too. While I still prefer fresh and moist brownies, I bet if I had warmed it up it would have been as great!
I gave it my all to get this open, and I failed. I had to use car keys to tear it open, because my scissors are packed away somewhere. I chose this due to its resemblance to a brownie. In a way, it tastes like it’s not the healthiest thing to eat (a lot of protein bars are stuffed with refined sugar) but only has raw ingredients! The bar has a strong chocolate smell and a sweet, raisin flavor – the almonds add a crunch. I like how chewy it is and think it would go great as a healthier alternative to a high-sugar protein bar. The raisin flavor isn’t my favorite, but Giovanni likes it (he likes raisins).
The word caramel attracted me to this chocolate bar. I don’t know if the caramel is part of the nuts, but there didn’t seem to be the type of caramel I recognize. The packaging and design felt thoughtfully put together. Upon opening it, I was greeted with a beautiful design. I appreciate details like this, and it made my experience better. RawMio promised silky chocolate, and they delivered! At 70% cacoa, the bitterness is there, retaining a tad bit of sweetness to it. The nuts provide it some added crunch, and it’s visually pleasing. Because the chocolate is 70% cacao, it satisfies the sweet tooth but doesn’t cause cravings.
With the word “truffle,” I expected a snack similar looking to the UliMana truffles, but instead got these really cute and circular nibbles. They’re squishy, and they look and feel raw and healthier than a candy you’d buy at the movies. The bite is soft and smooth, and tastes like raisins. I checked the ingredients list and was quite surprised to not see raisins on the list. I’ve never had dates before, but I’m assuming that the lead flavor could be from the date paste. The nuts are finely ground up, making them mix well with the other ingredients and not stick out as a crunch. These would go really well as a breakfast or lunch snack.
Besides the brownie, this is what I was the most eager to try. Another discovery before going vegan was white chocolate, and that’s not exactly easy to find with its core ingredients being butter, milk, and sugar. I scouted the entire world (okay, the vegan-friendly stores near me) for vegan white chocolate. I found a yummy-looking recipe online but am too intimidated to try chocolate making right now. When I looked at the Sacred Heart chocolates, I had no idea I would find a silver, foil-wrapped chocolate heart titled “White Passion.” The moment I saw it, I grabbed it. The chocolate has a sugar cookie colour to it and is thick, like butter (but not butter!). Upon the first few bites, it’s flavor was masked by the density, until the flavor revealed itself confidently. I considered it to be a coffee taste, similar to the dairy-free Ben and Jerry’s coffee-flavored ice-cream, but Giovanni’s tasting came up as lemon. Who was right? Gio! I read the ingredients to find lemon oil listed! Wow, I had no idea he could pin point flavors so well. I think I also confuse flavors. Like the Love Force bar, this chocolate tastes so incredibly bad for you, but uses no animal products. Instead, it’s all raw ingredients!
And finally, the classic, “I saved the best for last” (but everything has been delicious!). They smell faintly of cacoa. The bite is tender, and after the initial wave of the promised sea salt, the chocolate is silky and rich. Unlike artificial and/or cheaper chocolates, the flavor is powerful and in your breath. The walnuts are not a strong add-in, but add a soft crunch to the otherwise pudding-like center.
And that concludes this mini haul. Everything was delicious, and some of it very different from the sweets I usually eat (like the Soul Sprout truffles). I’m glad veganism is spreading and more products are becoming available. I hope you enjoyed my reviews (I tried my best to be detailed) and explore vegan cuisine and treats!
Any questions about veganism? Feel free to ask me anytime!