Books and Blogs

Published on May 16th, 2011 | by andrea devon

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Cookbook Review: Vegan Desserts by Hannah Kaminsky

style and substance!

I recently received a review copy of Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season, the newest cookbook from Hananh Kaminsky of Bittersweet blog fame.  This gorgeous new book offers over 200 pages of recipes, tips, and a glossary; almost every recipe has a beautiful photo, taken by Hannah herself.  Vegan Desserts is categorized by seasonally available fruits, and includes muffins, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, pies, ice cream, mousses and crèmes, among other great looking treats. Sadly for this Hawaii-girl, some of the seasonal fruits are out of my reach, like apricots, peaches, and rhubarb, but I am determined to find some to play with these recipes! And as I don’t have an ice cream machine to trial the decadent carrot cake ice cream or olive oil ice cream, I will just have to stare at them for now!

As one of the first vegan baking blogs I ever found, Hannah has always been an inspiration for my vegan baking.  Her clever flavor combinations and gorgeous plated desserts are inspiring and challenging, but always explained in her signature prosaic style that makes it all very accessible to newbies and vegan baking veterans alike.  Though some of her combinations might seem a bit wacky, she makes them seem totally delicious- and intriguing!  Hannah’s first book, My Sweet Vegan, was published in 2007 and she has numerous e-books available on her blog.  I have to admit though, the consistent use of white flour, white sugar, and canola oil is a detriment to the collection- from such an accomplished baker I was hopeful for more creative flour combinations and more diverse sweetener and oil selection in her second cookbook. While this baking style is not always my personal preference, it does make it very accessible to those without access to health foods stores and the diversity they might offer; most of the ingredients can be found at regular grocery stores.  So for those times when you want to toss the spelt and buckwheat out the door and totally indulge in dessert, Hannah’s book should be your book of choice.

I sampled as many of the recipes as I could before I have to pack up my baking supplies and move islands! I will continue to add to this post as I try out more recipes… so check back soon!  As soon as I settle into my new house: Blueberry Beet Pate de Fruits, Lemongrass & Macadamia Nut Blondies, Pomegranate Granola, Strawberry Charlotte (strawberry mousse with agar!), Blueberry Biscotti, Cherry Berry Peanut Butter Cobbler, Maple Corn Muffins, and Personal Panettones- for the holidays!

Poppy Seed Coffee Cake

the bundt pan makes it kinda upside down, but still- see how pretty!

I loved this recipe! I don’t own a tube pan (nor a stand mixer), so I used a bundt pan with delicious results.  The crumb was not very crumbly, but it baked beautifully (I think earth balance would be better for the topping for a very buttery crumb).  The cake was made with earth balance inside, which yielded a soft and moist yellow cake, layered with poppy seeds.  I would definitely add more poppy seeds and much more coffee to this recipe (mixed in with the soymilk and more instant coffee too), but it was totally delicious as written.

delicious butter cake, poppy seed layer, and brown sugar topping!

Spiced Beet Cake Bites

I was so smitten with this pretty plated dessert- little yellow cake bites studded with red beets and topped with caramel frosting and cacao nib brittle, but I started with just the cake.  The results were a bit disappointing- the flavor was very bland, without spice or beety-ness.  And it stuck to my pan because I was impatient, and broke into less-than-pretty cake mess!  The accompaniments sound delish and I want to try them eventually, but I don’t think I would make the cake itself again.

my bad.

True Blue Bundt Cake

rich blueberry cake studded with dried cherries

The first bundt cake I ever made was Hannah’s Meyer Lemon cake, and it gave me so much confidence as a baker.  This blueberry-filled bundt cake is sure to inspire others along the same baking path.  We didn’t have dried blueberries at my store, so I used dried cherries, which were a bit too big, but worked pretty well.  This recipe is a bit time consuming (and it’s missing some directions!).  But it’s definitely worth the effort (and the expense of all those blueberries).  This cake is PRETTY!  Make a blueberry lemon glaze and take it out on the town.

Peppermint Mocha Trifle

coffee cake layered with cocoa mousse and cacao nibs!

Continuing on with the fun cake recipes…  I didn’t have a coffee cake recipe in my book, and I was very excited to try this one out (paired with some existing tofu mousse, similar to the recipe in the book).  The results were beautiful, though the flavor was a bit disappointing; much like the Spiced Beet Cake, I think that it needs more ‘oomph’ or something.  Maybe a layering of chocolate or carob, or a rich vanilla bean background;  maybe it just needs more coffee!  But, the texture was great, and the cake looked amazing out of the oven- great crumb, beautiful rise, and good structure.  I made a half-batch in an 8×8 pan, and it turned out perfectly.  This would be a great recipe for nice layer cake (with some vanilla latte frosting or chocolate fudge whip)- just don’t give it to the kiddies!

that is a pretty cake: fresh out of the oven

Many thanks to Skyhorse Publishing, who supplied me with a review copy of this pretty book!

Last year at this time I did a review of Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar! Isn’t that funny!



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One Response to Cookbook Review: Vegan Desserts by Hannah Kaminsky

  1. Nicole says:

    I just received a copy of this book in the mail yesterday and it’s stunning! I’m having trouble choosing which recipe to try first. Thanks for the review!

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