Wickedly indulgent, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, decadent – these are not words that I usually associate with vegan food. The words wholesome, nutritious and healthy are more likely to spring to my mind in association with this particular dietary regime – and don’t the latter descriptors actually preclude the former? Read on, dear friend, because I might just have been wrong! To be perfectly honest, I have always found the concept of veganism (or any restrictive form of diet) a little confronting – cutting myself off from entire food groups is not something that this greedy girl could ever contemplate. So when a copy of Wakefield Press “Divine Vegan Desserts” found it’s way into my inbox for reviewing I was a little unsure how to approach it.
Well, it turned out that was simple. It seems that finishing off a meal with a sweet treat is not out of the reach of those who are endeavouring to make a switch to a healthier lifestyle (and even those who aren’t) and after a quick flick through these lavishly illustrated recipes I was making a list of what I would make first! Many will be relieved to know that vegans don’t proscribe chocolate and the recipes, all dairy and egg-free, with many gluten free, low sugar and nut-free choices, are enough to lift the spirits of any dessert-lover and go a long way towards redeeming the reputation of the dessert course.
Apparently, most vegan recipe books are from overseas and contain ingredients which can be difficult to source here in Australia. Author Lisa Fabry avoids the use of these and explains clearly and simply how to make brilliant dairy free desserts with ingredients many of us will already have on hand – or at least be able to source easily. Fabry originates from London, but now lives in Adelaide indulging her two great passions – food and yoga. She shares her own dishes, plus a selection of vegan desserts being created by chefs in cafes, restaurants and cooking classes from around the world.
The book begins with a guide to the key ingredients in vegan baking, some baking tips and how to substitute natural colours for artificial in your cooking. It is divided up into chapters covering baking, tarts, pies, puddings, fruit dishes, ice creams and sorbets, custards and creamy desserts and small treats, with each dish beautifully photographed. The range of desserts is extensive and covers everything from wickedly indulgent Double Fudge Pecan Brownies, to decadent melt-in-your-mouth Banoffi Tarts and a traditional creamy, custardy trifle. I challenge anyone to resist these dishes – they look, er, divine!
I road tested a couple of the recipes – the Las Vegan Sour Cherry Muffins and (in a diversion from my usually predictable preference for chocolate) the refreshing Lime Tart. The muffins rose perfectly and were deliciously moist and sticky, without being too sweet, but the Lime Tart was the absolute winner. It was so quick to make, with at-hand ingredients and has a delicious zesty zing to it. I’d happily serve it to anyone as a dinner party dessert – even those who are cynical of raw foods. This would certainly change their minds.
I can’t say this book would convert me – I still find veganism far too restrictive and just a little confusing – but it certainly is proof that a vegan diet can have plenty of indulgence in it. Divine Vegan Desserts is perfect for those who are interested in pursuing a healthier diet, but reluctant to give up on their sweet tooth.
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