Sweetie pie (and cakes and cookies and tarts and... and....)
The Book: My Sweet Vegan: passionate about dessert by Hannah Kaminsky (Fleming Ink, 2007)
Overall feeling: If I lived with or near Hannah, I expect I'd be rather fat and have a raging case of candida. But would my sweet tooth be happy and satisfied? Oh yes, it would. I'm not going to talk about how Hannah put this book together - creating the recipes and taking all of the 80 gorgeous photographs - at the young age of 18 because quite frankly I expect she is sick of everyone cooing over how young she is, and it sure doesn't do much for my self-esteem, having not had my first cookbook published until the age of 27. I had the opportunity to meet Hannah last November at the Boston Veg Fest where we were both doing cooking demos. Despite her active nerves (as this was her first live demo), she had this matter-of-fact confidence with her ingredients (cakes, frostings) that I really dug.
Best bits: If you are looking to make straight-up vegan sweets, to be inspired by mouth-watering images (really, it's some of the best photography I've seen in a vegan cookbook), and to impress the pants off conventional eaters - making them say "I can't believe it's vegan!", then this is no doubt the book for you. And if you are like me - a bit more whole-foods oriented and enjoy a good challenge to "healthify" a recipe - then dig right in and get testing. Hannah's writing is clear, confident and inviting; her recipes a perfect blend of veganized classics and creative new ideas. I am hard-pressed to find recipes that I wouldn't want to sample, though the ones at the top of my to-try list include: Caramel Macchiato "Cheese" Cake, Chai "Cheese" Cake, Mocha Devastation Cake, Peach Melba Layer Cake, Root Beer Cupcakes, Silken Chocolate Mousse Cake, Cashew Creme Pear Tart, Pink Lemonade Tartlets, Pumpkin Pecan Pie, Green Tea Tiramisu and Pumpkin Toffee Trifle. (And then after enjoying thoroughly, I'd take some probiotics to finish.)
Less-wonderful bits: Of course you know, as a holistic nutritionist, that I am wary about all the refined foods going on in this book. I think we could all do to reduce our consumption of all-purpose flour and white sugar, if not eliminate it completely. I am more about the whole grain flours, maple and agave syrups, coconut and sunflower oils before canola and vegetable oils, and coconut milk over soy creamer. I am also surprised when vegan books don't push for fairly traded products like sugar and chocolate/cocoa, because if we're all so big on animal rights, shouldn't we be advocating for human rights in food production industries, too? Anyhow, I won't go any further on that point, because it's really my agenda, and in all fairness, Hannah never claimed it was hers.
Whole foods focus?: Nope.
Vegan-friendly?: 100 percent!
Eco-conscious?: No (except that it is vegan).
Web presence?: yup.