Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hannah Kaminsky's Vegan Desserts

Very few cookbooks leave me with the desire to make almost every single recipe, but Hannah Kaminsky's newest baking book, Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season, is one of them. I've made three recipes so far and had intended to make one more before writing this review, but found myself lacking an essential four ounces of coconut. Coco-Nut Macaroons will just have to wait, as it's important for this review to be out in the world now.

This gorgeous book features a stunning, full-color photo for each and every recipe, all bound in a hardcover with dust jacket. If you have Kelly Peloza's The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, you'll recognize the size and shape of this book as it mimics that one (Skyhorse Publishing published both, as well as Melisser Elliott's The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life, which I don't have). There are a helpful Ingredients Glossary, Kitchen Tools and Toys, and Troubleshooting sections at the beginning of the book and the back of the book boasts a Food Allergy Index in addition to the regular Index, all of which provide useful information for people new to veganism, new to baking itself, and even for seasoned vegan bakers. The recipes are split into chapters reflecting the flavors of each season, beginning with spring.

My very favorite feature of this book is the chapter titled Components and Accompaniments. Hannah is quite dedicated to making her recipes as accessible as possible, so she set out to create recipes for hard-to-find-vegan ingredients such as Caramel Syrup, Graham Cracker Crumbs, Lady Fingers, Limoncello, and Pumpkin Butter. Now this is how a cookbook should be! I don't have to worry about not having vegan graham crackers on hand because I can just whip up a batch of graham cracker crumbs from the recipe in the book. Hannah has truly thought of everything and we haven't even gotten to the recipes for baked goods yet.

When I was a kid, my mom made meringue cookies often. Far from being vegan, their traditional main ingredient is egg whites, and it's been longer than I can remember since I last tasted one. Naturally, I was immediately drawn to Hannah's recipe for Meringue Kisses and made them first. Being the genius she is, the texture is spot on!

I made the Black Pearl Truffles next, except with regular sesame seeds because I didn't have the black variety. These are spicy, rich, and decadent; such an amazing treat to keep on hand in the freezer for whenever the chocolate desire hits.

Then I baked the Black Cat Cookies (mine are obviously hearts), which were a HUGE hit with the people in my office. They're rich and fudgy, almost brownie-like, and have already been requested again.

On my agenda for sometime soon are too many recipes to list (including the aforementioned Coco-Nut Macaroons), but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I tested recipes for this cookbook at the end of 2008. You can find my posts on the Persimmon Blondies here and my post about the Cherry Macaroon Tart (absolutely the best pie I have ever tasted in my life) and Rum Raisin Brownies here.

Vegan Desserts has already become my go-to baking cookbook in the short month that it's been in my kitchen. The recipes are easy to follow, yet incredibly impressive, and are a good mix of traditional and innovative. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to pre-heat my oven.


Sandy said...

Is this what I've been missing out on? I'm moving my ticket up and flying straight into LA!

Hannah said...

Aw, you sure know how to put a smile on my face! Most of all, I'm so happy that the meringues lived up to your expectations. Considering all the hype, I was worried that they would end up being a disappointment in the end since they were so simple. Better than just getting your rave review, I'm so thrilled to see photographic proof of them, too! I think you're the first one to actually post about making them. Hooray, thank you so very much for your sweet review! :)

And I'm sorry for leaving our email conversation hanging- I owe you a response asap!

Vegyogini said...

You're welcome, dear Hannah! And thank you for veganizing such a nostalgic treat! I can't wait to make the S'mores Pie with the marshmallow meringue layer...yum.

I'll be looking forward to your email whenever you have the time!

Maryam said...

It all looks delicious! Especially the heart cookies :)