Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Vegan Sweets & Treats

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a sweet tooth. My dream is to open a vegan bakery someday and I currently run a humble little baking service out of my apartment kitchen. I recently went through the process of re-naming said service, though I haven't revealed the new name and brand because I have yet to find someone to help me do a logo and re-design of the website....soon though, I hope!

In the mean time, I've been doing some research in my home town. Currently, there are no fully-operating vegan bakery store fronts. This is a major-league bummer! There are several bakeries providing a few vegan treats here and there, but for the most part, they severely miss the mark. There are a couple home-kitchen operations making their name out there, the most successful of which seems to be 13th Cookie. Most recently I've tried two treats worth mention: one, because it was incredibly delicious, the other, because it gives vegan baking a bad rap.

Let's start with the good: Sometimes at work I need something sweet. Does it happen to you? You hit this point in the afternoon when the dream of a good cookie and a cup of coffee or tea lure you to the streets. I typically head to Coffee by Design, a local coffee shop gaining reputation for it's wonderfully diverse selections and local baked goods. I was so pleased to recently discover that they are selling 13th Cookie baked goods. So far I've tried the Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie. Although it was a bit greasy (likely due to the almond butter), it was chewy and chocolatey, and almost brownie-like. And I loved that it wasn't one of those giant cookies most places sell - it was just a normal-sized cookie and was the perfect amount to quench my craving. Bravo, 13th Cookie & CBD! Finally, there is a vegan sweet in town that actually tastes good! 

About a year ago, a restaurant opened up in town called Local Sprouts Cooperative. They serve a wide array of food and their menu includes several vegan dishes (hooray!). Connected to the co-op is the Bomb Diggity Bakery. They offer a variety of baked goods, including several vegan offerings, though they are not a fully vegan kitchen. The concept is really cool - check out their website for details - but in short, they provide services for individuals with intellectual disabilities. I really wanted to like their baked goods, really I did. I want to support them so far Justin and I have tried two things from them and man, were they a let down.

The first was a chocolate-chai cupcake sampled at the Portland Public Market. The cupcake was hard as a rock, overly cinnamony (we're talking mouth-full-of-cinnamon cinnamony), and incredibly dry. The icing was flat and sickeningly sweet. Major bummer.

Then we tried a chocolate cookie. First off, it was a "big" cookie and I just object to those in general. I think Americans have gotten far too used to large portion sizes and cookies should be sized to fit in the palm of your hand. The cookie looked very chocolatey at first glance. It was dark in color and lumpy with nuts and other various surprises. It was extremely greasy, so much so that it was all over my hands. On first bite, I wasn't sure what I was tasting - a cross between a granola bar and bird suet, perhaps? Needless to say, the cookie was guiltily chucked in a trash can on the street. I say guiltily because I feel bad - I desperately want their baked goods to taste good, but alas, they just aren't.

I'm happy to say that everyone who's sampled my baked goods has been delightfully surprised that it's vegan. They say, "This doesn't even taste vegan!" Well - I don't think vegan has a taste, it just is! Baked goods are baked goods. They're meant to be indulgent, they're meant to be yummy and I'm certainly glad that mine are. Let me know if you're interested in trying some - I'm always looking for testers :)

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