In her introduction to Sinfully Vegan, Lois Dieterly counters the decadence with 22 pages of healthy eating guidelines, showing why vegan desserts are healthier than non-vegan, with nutritional charts and useful info about fats, calories & cholesterol.
"Sinfully Vegan will show you how to make decadent cakes and treats that will satisfy your sweet tooth without totally blowing your diet or your resolution to eat more healthfully".
This is the vegan dessert cookbook for dedicated dessert fans. Lois Dieterly has been baking since age 4, and in 15 years as a vegan, has mastered the art of converting sinful delights into vegan sinful delights.
In these vegan desserts, Lois Dieterly focuses on fabulous taste and beauty, allowing health eating guidelines to fade into the background where they belong. It might matter to your arteries that Award Winning Peach Crumb Pie has 0% cholesterol, but you'd never guess from eating it.
The introduction to Sinfully Vegan also has useful information on the alternative ingredients used in the vegan dessert recipes, and the kitchen equipment which you might need to make them. Most of it is stuff that a vegan baker probably already owns. Newbie vegan cooks might have a longer shopping list.
All of the recipes have prep and cook times, servings, and nutrition info, as all good cookbooks do. The instructions are long and detailed, great for those not familiar with vegan ingredients and cooking methods.
For instance, she explains how arrowroot starch works differently than corn starch - dissolve it in water before adding, same as cornstarch, but stir into hot food and don't heat it further, or the thickening power breaks down.
My Only Quibble With This Cookbook: I tested Award Winning Peach Crumb Pie, and I think that I chose one of the more challenging recipes. But what the heck! Peaches are in season, and I wanted to eat peach pie!
The peach pie looked and tasted spectacular, as I suspect is true of all the recipes. However I felt that the author fell down a bit on the directions. I had to improvise and fill in the gaps in a couple of places, which is fine if you're a veteran vegan baker, but not so much otherwise.
In spite of my misgivings, I followed the suggestion about using another pie plate with water in it as a pie weight. That was almost a disaster, averted by quick thinking, sleight-of-hand, and luck.
Always listen to the voices in your head, I keep telling myself! Next time (oh yes, there will be a next time!) I'll use the aluminum foil & bean trick for pre-baking the crust.
I was impressed that there was not a bit of sugar added to the peaches, and that they were gently pre-cooked and thickened with arrowroot instead of cornstarch, then added to the pre-baked crust. I thought it was a brilliant technique. The peaches were already ripe and sweet, and tasted divine in this pie. I was inspired to switch the cinnamon from the peaches to the crumb topping - I like my peaches unadorned.
Lois didn't say to blanche the peaches, which I felt was a necessary step, so I added that suggestion to my cooking notes in Peach Crumb Pie, which became our sample recipe.
I'm sorry that I didn't have time to test one of the many cheesecake recipes, because I have the feeling that's where Sinfully Vegan sins the best. All of them have the same basic ingredients (lots of silken tofu and tofutti cream cheese), and method, which seems very clear and easy. What stopped me was a foolish prejudice I have against tofu in baking.
But I haven't come across many vegan cheesecakes without tofu - at least not any that actually resemble traditional cheesecake in looks and taste. Tofu gives volume and binding power, which cheesecake needs, in place of eggs.
I plan to make a chocolate cheesecake with raspberry topping, a variation on Black Forest Cheesecake, pg 218 - just as soon as I can get to the store and buy 3 tubs of tofutti cream cheese, and another package of chocolate chips. The chocolate addict (who would that be?) ate half the package in the cupboard. I'll update this review with a picture and comments as soon as the deed is done.
Just so you know, a few of the recipes in Sinfully Vegan take a lot of time and effort, but are apparently worth it - Jelly Doughnuts, for instance. It's a good thing I'm not addicted to those!
Lois mentions in the introduction that these recipes are intended as occasional treats. I know she has to say that so people can't blame her when they gain weight from eating her recipes. But it didn't stop us from eating peach crumb pie (and nothing else) for dinner.