Luscious sweets and treats are just about mandatory this time of year. Some of us are planning a finale for a romantic dinner, while others are content just to bake up a little love to share with friends and family. And there’s no reason that vegan desserts can’t tempt the senses just as well (or better!) than conventional treats.
Here’s the lowdown on great ingredients that can make it easy to bake vegan, plus favorite recipes fit for Valentine's celebrations.
The number of delicious, high-quality plant-based baking essentials has never been wider or more user-friendly. While most substitutions will change the finished product slightly, here are some of the most successful replacements for popular non-vegan dessert ingredients. And they’re all very versatile, so they’re great to have on hand even if you don’t typically cook for special diets.
Replace butter with: Mild oils like canola and safflower; coconut oil; a combination of oil and a fruit puree like mashed banana or applesauce.
Replace cream with: Coconut milk, pureed silken tofu or Cashew Cream.
Replace eggs with: Chia seeds or ground flaxseed mixed with water, vegan egg substitute.
Replace honey with: Agave nectar, rice syrup, malt syrup or dates pureed with water.
Replace milk with: Nut milks, soy milk, coconut milk beverage, light coconut cream.
A Must-Try. Here’s a lusciously vegan recipe I think every vegan (and every coconut lover!) should experience this month: Whipped Coconut Cream. A dollop of this elevates everything — from simple fresh fruit to chocolate creations — to celebratory status. And I think its coconut flavor makes it a wonderfully unique alternative to dairy whipped cream even for non-vegans.
Heavenly Chocolate. Most chocolates are vegan, but always look at the ingredient list to make sure what you’re using doesn’t contain milk or a milk product, such as whey or casein. Cocoa powder is also a tried-and-true alternative, and it helps give this terrifically rich Vegan Mocha Pie deep, dark flavor while tofu gives it a silky texture and great nutritional profile. For an easy classic that's fun to make with kids, try these two-ingredient Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries, or get creatively romantic with Chocolate-Dipped Anything. For a treat that’s raw as well as vegan, I highly recommend Raw Walnut Brownies — top each square with a dollop of coconut cream and a raspberry and you’ll have the recipe for Valentine’s bliss.
Rich and Creamy. Silky Sweetheart Puddings use a combination of silken tofu and almond milk for a gorgeously spoonable pudding. Make the puddings in heart-shaped molds if you have them, and you can use a romantic fruit like raspberries or strawberries instead of grapefruit if you like. Another fabulous tofu-based dessert is Raspberry Vegan Cheesecake Bites, a decadent dessert with absolutely no cheese required.
Romantically Healthy. And just how simple (and totally nutritious!) can romance get? Whirl up a batch of three-ingredient Raspberry Nice Cream, a terrifically popular treat that gets creaminess from a combination of cashews and bananas. If you want to take it a step further, top it with shatteringly delicious Homemade Chocolate Shell made with a vegan chocolate. Or round up a batch of your favorite winter fruits for Fresh Fruit and Cream Parfaits, a mouthwatering end to a meal that’s gorgeous to look at and won’t weigh you down; I recommend mango and raspberries for pure seduction!
Got your own very vegan Valentine dessert? Tell us about it!