Young and Hungry

Vegan Treats: Desserts That a Butter Man Could Love?


No animals were harmed in the making of these desserts.

Last Friday, we here at Y&H Central sampled some new seasonal desserts created by Danielle Konya, founder of the Pennsylvania-based Vegan Treats, a bakery that employs the nuclear option when making sweets. VT uses no butter, eggs, cream, or cream cheese. Konya, after all, is an ethical vegan, with a strong pro-animal/environmental philosophy behind her bakery:

Clearly, there's nothing appetizing about the needless suffering of ten billion animals a year for their flesh, milk and eggs. And there's really nothing tasty about aiding in the destruction of our environment for a cupcake. After all, the more one learns about the milk and egg industry, the more sickeningly un-sweet desserts made with them become.

Vegans don't often inspire a lot of cuddliness, particularly among editors.  Erika Niedowski, assistant managing editor here at the paper, wasted no words: "I don't think vegans deserve dessert at all," she e-mailed me after our tasting. "I mean, what do they need dessert for, they've given up everything else. (Maybe a poached pear, but not anything more.)"

She may be joking.

Niedowski, however, did like the same dessert as all the other City Paper testers who sampled them (including me): Konya's caramel pecan cake, a moist, not-too-rich confection studded with little pieces of pecan for texture. I'd order the cake even if I had non-vegan options.

I was also impressed with Konya's seasonal cheesecakes, which are not cheesecakes in the leaden-bomb tradition of New York delis. Her pumpkin version has good sweet gourd flavor but a light, fluffy body — without the assistance of a single egg for airiness. How she does it, I have no idea. But it's a welcome alternative to the typically dense cheesecake.

"The 'cheese'cakes were great on texture, lighter than many cheesecake mixes, but low on hints of creme cheesiness...which makes the entire experience very mysterious," noted tester Ruth Samuelson, aka Housing Complex. (I should add that the caramel-apple cheesecake would have been a lot better without the thick, impenetrable layer of caramel on top.)

The low points for me were the pumpkin pie, whose filling was rich enough (even without condensed milk) but whose limp crust suffered without butter, and the chocolate-hazelnut pumpkin spice cake that left a bad, almost carob-like taste in my mouth even with all the other ingredients to counteract it.

Other tasters agreed. "The Choco Hazelnut cake was the only that couldn't pass as normal," Samuelson e-mailed me.

If you're interested in Vegan Treats, you can find them at Busboys & Poets, Java Green, and some other locations around the metro area.

  • ASB

    Despite the mostly positive review, the tepid photograph alone is proof that you weren't giving these desserts a fair shot. The truth is, any one of Vegan Treats' desserts (cookies, brownies, buns, donuts, etc.) could stand up against your run of the mill version and blow it out of the water.

  • WTF, ASB?

    You might notice that most of the shots on the blog are taken in not-so-great circumstances and iffy lighting. That's not a Y&H attempt to diss Vegan Treats (or vegan treats, lowercase), it's a reflection of the fact that while professional food photographers can spend hours making their shots/food look appetizing, Y&H is actually a journalist on the run, taking pics when and where he can. (You'll note there are plenty of pics of meat dishes that are also "tepid.") Take the mostly positive review and enjoy it, why don't you? The bitchy tone of this post pretty much sums up why some vegans don't inspire much cuddliness!

  • Dylan XVX

    I agree about the photographs. The desserts are works of art not only in appearance, but also in flavor. The editor's smug comments toward vegans and the ideology of veganism is extremely bias and unprofessional. We are very loving and compassionate people that outwardly oppose the destruction of animal's and the environment. If our convictions deem us unworthy of enjoying something as simple as a vegan dessert in your eyes, then I can't imagine how callous you are about other pressing issues. I hope she was only making a terribly unfunny joke in an attempt to get a few cheap laughs. Either way, this article grossly underestimates Vegan Treats, no matter how positive the review seems on the surface. I highly suggest this bakery and its baked goods to vegans, as well as
    curious and open minded non-vegans looking for amazing cruelty free dessert.

  • What are you people reading??

    "No matter how positive it seems on the surface"??? What else is there? Are there subliminal messages I missed? Basically what this comment says is "no matter what the review actually SAYS, I can read the evil intentions between the lines ..." Go back to college, people!!