FOOD & NUTRITION

Don’t sacrifice taste for vegan lifestyle

Vegan baking is a real thing, and it’s delicious

7/29/2014
BY MARY BILYEU
BLADE FOOD EDITOR
Vegan chocolate cupcakes.
Vegan chocolate cupcakes.

It‘‍s time to bake, so let’‍s get out the mixing bowl, the measuring cups, the flour, the sugar, the butter, the eggs ...

But, what if you have allergies to dairy or to eggs?

What if you‘‍re a vegan, eating no animal products whatsoever?

What can you do about the butter and, especially, the eggs when baking? Is it possible to bake anything light, anything delicious — anything at all — without these ingredients?

Fear not. Sweets and treats do not have to be sacrificed.

Today’‍s recipes are so fabulous that no one will know they aren‘‍t standard-issue baked goods containing butter, eggs, or cream.

None of the taste testers said, “These are okay, considering ...”

Everyone has raved about these items. A notoriously picky eater said, “Mmm, these are really good.” One taster said, after sharing samples of a cupcake with friends, “everyone was shocked when I told them it was vegan [especially the big meat and potato guy in our group].”

It took a bit of trial and error to perfect these recipes. They contain silken tofu, which offers protein for structure in place of eggs and also contributes moisture.

But without a strong starring ingredient, such as banana or peanut butter or chocolate, the baked goods simply tasted bad. They tasted like tofu. Tofu is high on the “naughty” list, flavor-wise. Your Food Editor quibbles with the countless claims that others have made about tofu being flavorless, or it being a sponge that absorbs other flavors. And she quibbles vehemently. She does not want her cookies or muffins, or anything else she eats, to taste like tofu.

Vegan muffins.
Vegan muffins.

But when the tofu is beaten into submission by a stronger opponent, baked goods containing it can absolutely be decadent and delicious.

Vegan peanut butter cookies.
Vegan peanut butter cookies.

If anyone were to say “I‘‍m offering you a vegan cupcake,” the initial reaction might likely be one of trepidation. The instinctive response is that there’‍s something “off,” that unusual ingredients have been used. But that isn‘‍t necessarily true. Cocoa, coffee, chocolate -- the important things in life -- are all well represented here, even if there is no buttercream frosting. These are rich enough that it won’‍t be missed.

We eat many foods each day that are vegan without even realizing it. Hummus and tabouli. Fruits and vegetables. Oreos and Fritos. None of them contains meat, dairy, honey, or eggs. But the term “vegan” has political overtones, because it is a diet rooted in concern for animal rights which prohibits the use of any animal-based product; thus people sometimes react to the concept, rather than merely appreciating the food.

Today’‍s recipes are offered in an effort to change that, while offering options for those who can‘‍t eat certain basic baking ingredients for health reasons, as well.

Never say, “That tastes pretty good for a vegan baked good.” You should only have to say, “That tastes great.”

And these cookies, muffins, and cupcakes do.

Contact Mary Bilyeu at mbilyeu@theblade.com or 419-724-6155 or on Twitter @foodfloozie.

 

RECIPES

  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter substitute, melted*
  • 1/3 cup silken tofu, drained
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup + 1/4 sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter-flavored Cheerios, finely chopped

Peanut Butter Crackle Cookies

When Craig, my infamous picky eater boyfriend, asked for a second cookie and then a third, I knew that this recipe had been perfected.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

In a large bowl, stir together butter substitute, tofu, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Stir in 1/3 cup sugar and brown sugar, combining well. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and Cheerios until well combined.

Roll dough into 1” balls and roll in the 1/4 cup sugar to coat. Place onto the prepared baking sheet 2” apart. Flatten cookies slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden and puffed. Remove to a rack and let cool completely.

Makes approximately 24 cookies.

Source: Mary Bilyeu

*The recipe was tested using Nutiva brand Buttery Spread, available at area health food stores.

 

 

 

Banana Blueberry Muffins

  • 5 ounces silken tofu, drained
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 medium-large banana, mashed
  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

A wonderful way to show off summer blueberries, and to use up overripe bananas.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together tofu, sugar, brown sugar, oil, soy milk, vanilla, and banana until smooth. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Divide batter among the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until muffins are golden and a tester comes out clean. Let cool.

Makes 12 muffins.

Source: Mary Bilyeu

 

 

 

Raspberry-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup silken tofu, drained
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 teaspoons raspberry all-fruit spread

Glaze:

  • 1 cup mini dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla soy milk
  • sprinkles, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a large measuring cup, whisk together coffee, oil, tofu, vinegar, and vanilla until tofu is broken up. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, and mix until thoroughly combined.

Fill the muffin cups half full with the batter. Place 1/2 teaspoon of jam into the center of each cupcake, then divide remaining batter between the cupcakes to cover the jam.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Make the glaze: Melt together the chocolate chips and the soy milk, stirring until the glaze is smooth. One by one, dip the cupcakes upside down into the glaze, twisting to let excess drip off. Place on a rack, right-side up, and decorate with sprinkles. Let the glaze set a bit, then serve.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Source: Mary Bilyeu