Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vegan Cupcakes - Spreading Awareness, Compassion and Breaking Myths One Bite At a Time...

Banana Split Cupcakes from VCTOTW - Made for graduation party in June

Who doesn’t like dessert? I know I do. I’ve always had a bit of a sweet tooth, though I’ve always been partial to things like pies, cobblers, brownies, muffins, scones and other small pastries, I’ve never been a cake person, or a cupcake person for that matter, and I’m not a fan of sugary icing either. Having said that, I am quite taken with Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s book "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World" they do use a lot more icing then I think is necessary - and so I just scrape away the excess or leave it off altogether - but their delectable cupcake recipes have definitely won me over. Though this is the type of book I only break out on special occasions, like parties, holiday’s, big family get-togethers etc, it hasn’t failed me yet.

Cookies ‘n Creme Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for Easter

The first time I made vegan cupcakes to bring to a family gathering was at Easter this year, and I wasn’t sure how they’d do. I was confident in my ability as a baker of course, and actually the previous year (Before I went vegan) I’d brought a batch of vegan, sugar-free, chocolate brownies made with tofu that everyone loved, but you can never tell. I know that Vegan is a scary word for a lot of people. They don’t understand it, and they don’t want to understand it. It’s the sort of ‘other’ they don’t want to be confronted with because they’re afraid it’s going to make them think about themselves, their own habits and their own values, and they might not like the conclusions they come too. Sometimes they feel that by simply being around a vegan or by being faced with vegan food they’re being judged, which is rarely if ever the case when you’re in the presence of a ‘Joyful Vegan.’ and a lot of times people simply want to be stubborn for stubborn’s sake, but I find if you hand someone a vegan dessert and don’t mention the fact that it’s vegan, they’ll take it happily and gobble it down. Usually such events are immediately followed by praise and outrageous decelerations about how that cupcake, or brownie or what-have-you was the best they’d ever had.

Chocolate Cherry Creme Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for graduation party in June

Isn’t it funny? It’s exactly the sort of thing that proves my point that when it comes to this ‘fear’ of veganism, it has nothing at all to do with taste and everything to do with stubborn preconceived notions. In fact on several occasions a friend of mine and I have preformed an experiment on unknowing people. We will each bring vegan baked goods to a party, she will tell anyone and everyone that her baked goods are vegan, while I neglect to mention the fact letting people draw their own conclusions. The result is that her baked goods remain virtually untouched, while mine get eaten so fast you’d think there was a national dessert shortage. We have done this on three separate occasions and the result is always the same.

Sexy Low-Fat Vanilla Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for graduation party in June and Easter

It’s a bit ridiculous when you think about it really. This notion that a vegan baked good is somehow inferior to a conventionally baked one. After all fat is fat, and sugar is sugar and when you eat a sweet treat that’s generally all you’re tasting. I mean, have you ever had someone come to you and say "Hey, these cupcakes are fantastic! Must have been a good batch of eggs!" Have you ever heard anyone say "Hey this brownie is delicious, it must be the milk!" No, of course not, it would be silly. Milk imparts no flavor on your finished product, and is absolutely not necessary for baking especially when you have delicious alternatives like Soy, Almond, Rice, Hemp,. Oat, Hazelnut etc.. Eggs too have no discernable taste in a cake, and are absolutely not needed for either binding or leavening your pastries. Still people trudge along doing the same old same old, using eggs and milk for no other reason then it’s the only thing they know, which is why I love to bring vegan baked goods to parties. I consider doling out sweet decadent vegan treats to be part of my ‘vegan outreach’ so to speak As it almost always generates interest, questions, compliments, and more often then not it becomes the springboard for conversations about things deeper and more important then just the baking itself.

Coconut Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for graduation party in June

It’s my belief that people can’t grow if they don’t know, and they’ll never know if you don’t open that door. To educate ourselves and one another is the most important thing we can do in this world, and I happily do it with goodies. I think it’s really important to remind people that different doesn’t mean bad, and it’s equally important to show people that vegan food is just food. Plain and simple. A ‘vegan’ cupcake is just sugar, oil, flour, baking powder and or soda, vinegar (sometimes) salt, non-dairy milk, non-dairy butter (sometimes) and whatever else you decide to flavor it with. Nothing strange about it, and the best part is not only are they delicious but no creature had to die, be tortured or exploited to bake them.

Pineapple Right-Side Up Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for Easter

So next time you’re in the mood for a cupcake I highly recommend you check out the book "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World" Next time you have a party or are going to one and you need something to bring, make any one of these cupcakes and you’ll have a huge hit on your hands. You’ll be the talk of the party, and you’ll blow all those boring old tired dairy based desserts out of the water. Happy Baking Everyone!.

S’More Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for graduation party in June

1 comment:

  1. These were SO fantastic! I still can recall each delicious cupcake you made & how I couldn't stop eating them. Mmmmmm! I love vegan desserts & these were some of my favorites. - Matt