Tag Archives: straight edge

Vegan Treats – Bethlehem, PA

Vegan Treats has won Veg News‘s  best vegan bakery of the year more than once and for good reason. They offer a wide array of decadent treats including cakes, pies, donuts, cookies and cheesecakes and they all look so delicious it’s hard to resist the urge to buy one of each. Vegan Treats is also heaven for those who would rather not support the alcohol industry, like Nick and myself, since they don’t use alcohol or any extracts containing alcohol in their baking.

Combined we spent about $60 on French pastries, doughnuts and brownies. Some were incredibly fantastic, while others were good, but nothing special. For pics and descriptions of everything we got check out the Flickr set.

Lisa:
I couldn’t help but grin when I walked into Vegan Treats and somehow that grin managed to get wider once I found out they didn’t use anything with alcohol in their baking (their owner is straight edge). It took me a while to decide what to get and I ended up letting Nick choose first, so I could get whatever I thought looked good that he didn’t pick, since we were planning on sharing everything.

We got so many desserts that I have decided to focus on my top 3.

1) Hazelnut Praline Cake:


Before I wend vegan, my favorite chocolate candies were Ferrero Rocher’s hazelnut chocolates. The little nut on top of this cake made me ask what was in it and when I found out I had to get it. It’s a chocolate cake with a hazelnut praline frosting between layers, encased in chocolate ganache, topped with pretty fondant flowers and a single hazelnut. It’s like a truffle in cake form. Perfection!

2) Tiramisu:


I haven’t had Tiramisu in ages and it’s a dessert that is hard to make right. Often it’s too strong or too moist and the subtlety of the different flavors is lost or it’s the frozen variety restaurants get that just tastes awful because it’s been frozen. Vegan Treat’s Tiramisu is perfect! The cake was moist, but not too moist and the espresso didn’t overpower the senses. The cream topping was rich and fluffy and the chocolate shell crust and shavings made it the best Tiramisu I’ve ever had. This is a great choice if you’re a fan of rich desserts and if you like the combination of chocolate and coffee.

3) Chocolate Encased Strawberry Shortcake:


Strawberries are my favorite berry. I like them in ice cream, shakes, popsicles, on cheesecake…you get the picture. This cake just looked like strawberry heaven and it was. It’s a vanilla cake layered with fresh cut strawberries and a light whipped cream, encased in dark chocolate with a white chocolate covered strawberry on top.

Nick:
I’m a dessert fiend and chocolate is my greatest weakness. One of the few things that tempers my dessert purchases is that I don’t consume alcohol, and I take that to the extreme of not even consuming extracts such as vanilla extract. I had been told by my friend Michelle from the band Sick Fix that Vegan Treats didn’t use alcohol based flavorings in any of their products. When I walked into the bakery I had to hear it for myself so I started asking questions. Sure enough it was completely true. With that hurdle cleared, my brain exploded and I started ordering anything and everything. In the end I ordered 5 French pastries, 2 brownies, and a doughnut. I’m trying to list the top three selections I purchased but its too hard for me to narrow it down so succinctly, so instead I’m going to just go with the highlights.

While Lisa was taking pictures of all of the items we purchased, I sat down with my Boston Creme Doughnut. It had been forever since I had anything like this. Lisa recently made doughnuts filled with jelly, but as cool as they were they didn’t match the grandeur of being one of my 2 favorite types of doughnuts before I went vegan – Boston Creme and Bavarian Creme. Needless to say, I had a brief moment of nostalgic bliss as I ate my vegan Boston Creme Doughnut.

Next I want to talk about the two Brownies I had. To be honest, I’m more of a fan of the dense fudgy goodness of a brownie than of the fluffy airy texture of a cake. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Brownie was absolutely delicious and though I can’t remember with exact certainty what the other brownie I had was, it was also dense and delicious.

I purchased 5 French Pastries and though they were all good, Death By Chocolate (which the girl behind the counter said was her own favorite) was just okay. It was pretty enough, but at the end of the day it was just standard chocolate cake with a thin shell of chocolate frosting. My favorite out of the 5 I purchased was the Peanut Butter Tandy Cake (I think that’s what it was called). It was a mix of yellow and chocolate cake with chocolate and peanut butter decorations and a peanut butter cup on top.

Peanut Butter Tandy Cake

Strangely, despite zeroing in on all of my favorite things; pretty much anything with chocolate and/or peanut butter, the sleeper hit for me was the Hazelnut Praline cake. Maybe the pink flower just pushed it out of the running when I was making my purchases, but I overlooked it completely. I only got to experience it because Lisa bought it. In my sea of redundant dessert flavorings the hazelnut creme really stood out and got my attention. This was an A+ dessert.

All in all, Vegan Treats was the highlight of the trip for me and though I overdid it completely (I spent over $40.00 on dessert for myself… Oops, I meant for Lisa and I to share) it was worth every penny! Definitely check Vegan Treats out if you get the chance!)

Vegan Treats
1444 Linden St.
Bethlehem, PA 18018
610-861-7660

XVX Chocolate Chip Cookies

Two dozen fresh baked vegan chocolate chip cookies. Another 13 cookies were in the oven at the time this photo was shot.

Pretty much everyone has a chocolate chip cookie recipe, so its kind of a non-essential recipe to post, but these are really damn good. Somewhere along the way I started making chocolate chip cookies using a recipe off the back of the bag of some generic store brand chocolate chips that I “veganized.” A girl I dated and I made them so frequently that we slowly tweaked and refined the recipe because she thought the original recipe created cookies that were too oily for her tastes and I invariably thought they weren’t “chippy” enough (Note: chocolate fiend right here.) Here is our take on this classic cookie:

Bowl #1

Mix together the following ingredients until creamy:

  • 3/4 cup vegan margarine like Earth Balance or Willow Run
  • 1 cup white sugar (I use the Whole Foods Vegan Cane Sugar)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 “eggs” using Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavor (I use Frontier brand Non-Alcoholic Vanilla Flavor. Straight Edge.)

Bowl #2

Mix the following dry ingredients together until evenly distributed:

  • 2 1/4 cups white flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Combine Bowl #2 with Bowl #1 and mix. Once you have a consistent mixed dough, add the chocolate chips and kneed thoroughly to distribute them. I use:

  • 365 Vegan Chocolate Chips (Whole Foods brand)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 15-17 minutes.  I roll the cookies so that they are just bigger than the width of a quarter which is a bit more than a tablespoon. At that size the recipe makes around 36 cookies give or take.

End Notes: How can a cookie not be Straight Edge? Admittedly, I’m a zealot, but I am who I am. A few years back a friend of mine threw his birthday party at my house and he had gotten a vegan birthday cake from Bleeding Heart, a local organic bakery. We all mutually agreed that the cake tasted like alcohol, so I gave my piece away and I started digging for answers the next day. As it turned out there was no rum or anything like that in the recipe. However, they used Pure Vanilla Extract in both the cake and the filling, so I asked her to bring out the bottle. Upon looking closely it was marked as being 50% alcohol. As it turns out, in order for a vanilla extract to be called pure, the US FDA requires that the solution contain a minimum of 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of vanilla bean per gallon. Double and triple strength vanilla extracts are available. Whereas, natural vanilla flavoring contains real vanilla bean but no actual alcohol. The owner tried to assure me that the alcohol “burns off”, but I needed to look into this myself. Typing “Does alcohol burn off in cooking?” into Google gives this link first:

http://www.ochef.com/165.htm

Searching through a multitude of links I found that all of the links that say it doesn’t burn off are backed up by a few scientific studies, all of the ones that say that it does have no statistical backing. Personally, I’m going to err on the side of science, instead of going with what appears to be a myth passed down through the ages. Now it is true that I’m not going to get drunk off of eating chocolate chip cookies even if 40% of the alcohol remains from the 35% alcohol content of 1 tsp of vanilla extract that remains in my cookies. But I’m a completist and I just can’t see the need for buying and consuming alcohol when its totally avoidable. I even discovered that it is recommended that vanilla extract be removed from the homes of recovering alcoholics because drinking it straight is almost as potent as downing a shot. I probably would have come to this conscious conclusion much earlier but I grew up in a house where non-alcoholic vanilla flavor was always in the cabinet. On a totally unrelated issue, my mom has an extremely strong corn allergy and the ethanol used to extract the vanilla flavor would cause her to break out in hives, so she stopped buying vanilla extract when I was at a young age and bought non-alcoholic vanilla flavor instead. On a final side note, some brands of chocolate chips have vanilla extract in them, so if you’re going to be a zealot like myself keep an eye out for that.