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Review: My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky – swell

Review: My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky

Five Minute Coconut Fudge
Sesame "Oatmeal" Cookies
Ginger Dream Pie

If you’re reading my teeny humble blog you’ve no doubt already come across Hannah’s blog, BitterSweet, if not read it regularly.  She takes beautiful photos of not just food but her amazing crafts, all given great background stories with her signature and engaging writing style.  She posts so regularly about so many of her edible and non-edible creations, all while attending school full-time and writing e-books and cookbooks and articles, I am convinced she must have found the secret to living without sleeping EVER.  I don’t have homework or classes to go to and I can barely get a few meager posts in every month, let alone maintain an impressive creative hobby on the side.  Oh!  And the book at the center of this post was published when she was 18 years old.  18!  It’s been said a million times before, but I will never be able to get over what she’s accomplished at her age.  It is totally amazing and inspiring regardless of your dietary inclinations, baking abilities, or craft experience.

Not only did she publish My Sweet Vegan at 18, she took all the lovely photos included on every page.  Visually, the book has a simple, modern layout with lots of color, pictures, and an easy-to-read format.  You WANT to make everything in here.  With my recent dietary restrictions I admit I was a bit apprehensive about trying out some recipes, but a list of allergy-free recipes at the back of the book was a helpful place to start (and making a few substitutions is all that’s required for most of the other recipes…simple enough even for this gluten-free baking novice).

A (lengthy but necessary) disclaimer about how and what I bake. My approach to baking is definitely different than what My Sweet Vegan entails.  In attempting to eat healthier, less-refined foods, in the recent past I’ve been used to dessert recipes calling for spelt, brown rice and buckwheat flours, coconut oil, safflower oil, maple syrup, agave nectar, dates, raw nuts, fruit purees, avocados and soaked grains.  With My Sweet Vegan, I was looking at a majority of recipes with ingredients like all-purpose flour, confectioner’s sugar, silken tofu, instant mashed potato flakes, margarine, and/or packaged vegan cream cheese and sour cream.  Now the term “healthy dessert” might seem oxymoronic or just plain pointless to some people (it is dessert, after all), but both my body and my taste buds really, really like all those hippie/granola/raw treats, and the trial separation with me and refined-sugar which has turned semi-permanent makes more traditional baked goods largely too sweet for my taste.  Take wheat/gluten out of the baking equation, and you’d think I might as well give up entirely on trying just about anything from a dessert book.

However, I was ready to tackle a few recipes even with adjustments to my personal preferences.  I’m happy to say that despite the fact that I don’t bake enough to scientifically predict what will happen when making substitutions, everything I tried turned out delicious, which I definitely credit most to Hannah’s baking knowledge, clear directions and flavorful creativity.  All the recipes I tried were made gf either by being that way to begin with or by substituting flours, and I opted to replace sugars called for with less-refined versions, often in lesser amounts.

My first recipe was for the Ginger Dream Pie.  I love ginger with a passion, and the idea of pretty much a vegan gingery cheesecake-like dessert was just as dreamy as the title implies.  This recipe calls for three forms of ginger: candied, ground, and freshly grated.  This pie turned out delicious, with a spicy ginger kick and a smooth, cool filling.  Perfect for dessert and impressive enough to feed to non-vegan dessert lovers (like my ladyfriend).

I’m really into cookies, but haven’t baked any since trying gluten-free.  These aren’t actually gluten-free to begin with (though the Apricot Biscotti and Peanut-Plus Cookies are GF as written), but so intrigued was I with the idea of a sesame cookie that I made the necessary changes to be a me-friendly cookie.  I suppose I should call these Sesame Quinoa Flake Cookies as that’s what I used to replace the oats (I can’t justify spending on certified GF oats), but Hannah’s soft, chewy Sesame Oatmeal Cookies have a sophisticated, unique flavor and a lovely, complex sweetness (thanks to a bit of blackstrap molasses).  Delicious with a glass of creamy vegan milk!

The only already-gluten-free dessert I made was the Five-Minute Coconut Fudge.  And silly me, I had accidentally bought light coconut milk (the higher fat content helps the structural integrity of the fudge once chilled).  But you know what?  This still turned out awesome even though it was lower-fat and I used a far lesser amount of Sucanat to replace the confectioner’s sugar called for (it was still a teeny bit sweet for me, but I am pretty sensitive).  My ladyfriend and every lucky friend who got a piece (or more), couldn’t stop raving about it and its addictiveness.  It’s easy to make AND it looks gorgeous!

Some other recipes I’d like to try include the Lychee Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting, Butterscotch Blondies, and Sesame Chews.

My Sweet Vegan is a great dessert book for dairy-free, egg-free recipes that range from the familiar to the decadent, from cookies to pies to cakes to muffins to chocolate-dipped candied orange peel; you’re sure to find a ton of inspiration here, including for those of us with additional dietary restrictions!  For the more health-conscious/whole foods-lovin’ vegan dessert lovers, you’re going to have to make modifications and substitutions, but so many of the flavor combinations are sure to pique your interest and creativity in adapting these recipes.  The recipes are clear, easy to follow, and very well-written, so if you’re nervous about baking you’ve got a nice helpful hand to guide you through, with a great little intro and picture of the final product for every recipe.

For a chance to win a free copy, just leave a comment on this post by Sunday, December 13, at 9pm CST and I’ll pick a name and we’ll exchange all that necessary mailing info.  Edit: International orders are welcome too, so long as nobody minds the slowest, cheapest shipping method.  Woohoo!  Thanks to Alisa of Go Dairy Free for providing a copy of this book for the giveaway!

37 Responses to “Review: My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky”

  1. Erica A. says:

    Coconut fudge? Sign me up!

  2. yosoyblog says:

    I am dying to make that ginger pie!!!

  3. Heather says:

    Coconut fudge! I am in love. Fudge is something I miss only sometimes, and then when I think about how sickeningly sweet it is, I get over it. But my grandma made the best peanut butter fudge ever, and of course it was loaded with things I can’t eat now, but food nostalgia creeps up on me. But your version of that? Yeah, I might need some of that right now. Yum.

  4. kim R. says:

    Ginger dream pie, mmmmm, sounds amazing! Ginger is my favorite!

  5. Megan says:

    I’ve made that coconut fudge twice, once as is and once without the coconut but with chopped walnuts instead. SO GOOD.

  6. Sam says:

    Oh gosh. I’ve always been a sucker for dessert, and now that I’m vegan, I’m even more of one. XD This book looks amazing.

  7. Shirley says:

    The Five-Minute Coconut Fudge looks so yummy! Are you taking international entries?

  8. Jill says:

    Delicious pictures…

  9. Ksenia says:

    I love Bitter Sweet and Hannah creations! This girl really amazes me: now I am 18 too and I think I am very far from publishing my own book xD

    The Ginger Dream Pie looks wonderful! :D I try to avoid refined food (specially refined sugars) and it’s true that at the end you get used to it, and at the end you even don’t miss the more refined versions of your treats. I have been tried to go mostly-raw (for a time at least) as well. I didn’t achieve my goal at 100%, but now at least I have the habit of eating a HUGE jar of green smoothie every morning :)

  10. Lauren says:

    This book looks great, and tempting! :) Thanks for having this giveaway!

    P.S. We all need more kale in our life! Re: Twitter ;)

  11. Josiane says:

    Thanks for showing how well those recipes worked with your substitutions! Like you, I’m not into too sweet stuff, and I usually lessen the amount of sugar used in any recipe (and use less refined sweetener), so I really appreciate that you shared the results of your experimentations. Now, if I were to win that book, I know I could successfully make yummy treats my way! :)

  12. Nancy says:

    Oh, my, I read her blog and absolutely love her recipes, descriptions and photos. I would love a copy of her book to add to my collection – not enough dessert books yet!

  13. melly says:

    The fudge looks killer! I have all but given up on gluten-free substitutions. Maybe I need to give it another shot!

  14. Ha! You know what’s funny? I reviewed My Sweet Vegan on my blog today too!!! Alisa sent me a copy a few weeks ago. I’ve only made one recipe so far, but I’ll likely post multiple reviews as I try new things….that coconut fudge is definitely on my list of things to try! Oh, and don’t enter me in the contest cause I already have it.

  15. Mary says:

    I’d love to win that book! I love Hannah’s blog and have tried several of her recipes. Thanks for the thoughtful and thorough review!

  16. cmb0096 says:

    Great review, A-K! I would love the chance to win a copy of this book…all of the photos of baked goods on blogs look so so good–including yours :-)

  17. Swarna says:

    I love Hannahs recipes. I started checkling her blog for egg free recipes and turned out to be hard core fan…would love to win this book…lets see

  18. Erica Morris says:

    I’ve been wanting this book for a long time. Now I REALLY want it after seeing your blog pics!! *fingers crossed*

  19. Geri Nyland says:

    Yummers!! This sounds like this has great recipes!!

  20. wendy wallach says:

    The chocolate dipped candied orange peel sounds amazing!

    madamerkf at aol dot com

  21. Carol says:

    I truly would love to win.

  22. This book sounds awesome!

  23. Michal says:

    All of these recipes look delicious, im especially curious about the sesame chews!

  24. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the great review!

    I’m also totally impressed by how much Hannah has managed at such a young age!

  25. noemi says:

    I’ve been thinking about buying that book for a while. I love her blog and all of her recipes look delicious, just like yours :) Your review adds another reason to the list of reasons why I should buy that book especially now that I know substitutions are possible!

  26. this book looks amazing. i’m throwing my hat in the ring for a chance at it :)

  27. Jes says:

    Great review! I like how you subbed quinoa flakes for the oats–I don’t think I would have thought of that. I would, of course, love to win the book, so count me in. For some reason I never got around to buying it when it first came out!

  28. Kathy D says:

    I love all things fudge Great pictures

  29. Emily says:

    I would LOVE to win a copy of My Sweet Vegan. My pants may not fit ever again, but…

  30. Aaron says:

    Quite possibly two of my favorite things in the world, coconut and fudge, together at last.

  31. Shannon says:

    i’ve been following her blog, but had no idea how young she was until just recently! quite amazing :) i would love a copy of her book!!

  32. BitterSweet says:

    You are too sweet! Thank you so much for your review, I’m just thrilled that you were able to adapt those recipes to your needs :)

  33. So glad you enjoyed it! I will have to try some of your adaptations too.

  34. Joelle says:

    That’s awesome, I want to win! I’ve been following the BitterSweet blog for awhile.

  35. Julia says:

    This book sounds good!

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