Finally, Meatless Desserts!

10/21/2009 3:40 PM |

When we were offered a seasonal sampler of baked goods from the Bethlehem, PA-based company, Vegan Treats, we were sorta like, “Er, no thanks,” and then we took a giant bite out of a ball of fresh mozzarella like it was an apple. And then we remembered one of our interns is vegan. And then we remembered one other intern is sort of a food snob and decidedly not vegan. And then we made them sit in a corner of the office and try six desserts. And then we made them write about it.

Pecan Pie
Kate: Pecan pie is one of my favorite desserts, and I’ll admit it. This is not the worst pecan pie I have ever had. I was expecting some strange “vegan” ingredient to make an appearance, like carob or giant pieces of seitan. But it’s pretty unassuming for a vegan treat, if not exactly delicious. I think I’ve traced the pie’s shortcomings to a lack of butter (shocker, I know.) There was none of that salty-toasty-buttery-nuttiness in the pecans, and the crust was bland and pliable, instead of flaky. Overall, the texture was just kind of meh. But I could definitely see myself coming home drunk and eating the whole thing if it was sitting on my counter.

Deirdre: As a passionate vegan, I’ll admit that any attempts at objectivity in this review are weak at best; I’m not trying to get myself blacklisted from every vegan restaurant in this city, after all (hello, have you had Red Bamboo’s soy buffalo wings?) But honestly, the pecan pie was mediocre at best. The crust was soggy and I could see the individual granules of sugar on the pecans- they were way too sweet. Fair or unfair, vegan baking has to be just as good if not better than any other non-vegan dessert to ever be taken seriously, and this pie just didn’t cut it. Sigh, as if it isn’t hard enough getting a table at Angelica Kitchen.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie

Deirdre: This tastes so much better than it sounds. It’s actually not a pie at all but a super moist pumpkin cake smothered in white icing, like an autumnal version of those Hostess chocolate cupcakes only it tastes good. Really good. The frosting is creamy and sweet without being too sugary, which is good thing because there is a whole lot of it. Arts editor and non-vegan Benjamin Sutton tried a bite and said, “How can this be vegan?” I’ll admit, it feels like a personal win.

Kate: I have to agree with The Vegan on this one. This little gem of a cake was the belle of the ball. There’s no way I would have known it was vegan if no one told me, due to its velvety nature and creamy ways. The cake part was moist and dense, and in combination with the frosting, tasted almost like a light carrot cake. Did I mention that the frosting was a (soy) cream cheese frosting, and I actually liked it? What is wrong with me?

Caramel Apple Cheesecake
Kate: Oh, soy cheese. Why do you disgust me so? I’ve had a lot of food aversions throughout my life, most of which I have overcome. But if I ever start liking “cheese analogs”, please put me out to pasture. Accept no imitations! The cheese portion of this cake just didn’t stick together, it was clumpy and wet instead of smooth. Also, the entire cake was covered in tar-like caramel with chunks of dehydrated apple underneath. It was beautiful until we took a knife to it and it turned into some sort of alien life form.

Deirdre: It looked a little gray and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything that’s gray before. Nope, definitely not. But I was riding high from the whoopee pie victory and wrestled a slice away from the caramel’s (really, really) sticky grip. Instantly I’m disappointed. The crust was dry and crumbly and the cake itself had the rubbery texture of a gumball after you chew it for a few hours and it turns gray (oh my god, I know the secret ingredient).

Pumpkin Pie
Kate: It has been determined (by me) that pumpkin pie is one of the least desirable desserts in the holiday dessert repertoire, next to fruit cake, which no one actually eats. I think most people just pretend to like pumpkin pie because that’s what our forefathers have been doing since the “Pilgrims” and “Injuns” first gathered at that festive party in 1621. Anyway, I normally wouldn’t be able to tell a good pumpkin pie from a bad one, except that the day after I tried the vegan one, this girl brought a normal one to one of my classes and it was much better.

Deirdre: After years of gutting and slicing pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin pie just never looked that appealing. So I wasn’t surprised when I took my first ever bite and it just tasted like wet vegetables on marzipan. But in the interest of impartiality, again I enlisted the more objective opinion of Ben, who actually enjoys pumpkin pie. He took a bite and said, “Hmm. Not bad. It’s a little bland.” There you go.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
Kate: SO MUCH PUMPKIN. Everyone in the office seemed to like this way more than I did. Yes, the texture was much better than the caramel apple cheesecake’s. And yes, it still counted soy cheese as a main ingredient. This cheesecake wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t amazing, either. I will say that the graham crust was pretty interesting. I’m thinking it had some sort of fancy sea salt in it, because it was smoky and salty, and it definitely didn’t contain bacon.

Deirdre: I was a little wary after the apple caramel cheesecake, but the incredibly smooth texture was a pleasant surprise. The best part, though, was the cake’s subtlety. Some autumn-themed pastries take the reference too literally and just end up tasting like cinnamon and nothing else. But the flavor of the pumpkin was appropriately muted, and the dollop of something that looked like whipped cream was light, almost weightless, and delicately sweetened. The crust tasted a bit smoky, but in a good way; quite like the sweet smell of burning autumn leaves. After the whoopie pie, this was definitely my second favorite.