How To Veganize Sweet Treats With These Replacements

Dying to revamp a favourite dessert, but don’t know where to start? These expert tips will help you convert any recipe vegan.

The old stereotype of vegan baked goods tasting like shredded wheat squares has been replaced with vegan cupcakes dominating Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, dairy-free doughnuts being crowned the best doughnuts in New York City by the NY Daily News, and dairy-free bakeries popping up all over the world. When it comes to veganizing sweet treats, Allison Rivers Samson, the owner of Allison’s Gourmet, an online artisan vegan bakery and confection shop, is an undisputed expert at taking desserts to the upper echelon. Here are her top substitution tips for vegan baking.

Better Than Butter

While commercial vegan margarines and shortenings exist for baking ease, Rivers Samson loves to use unflavoured coconut oil (also called coconut butter in cooler climates). When substituting for dairy butter, you’ll need to replace it with 3/4 coconut oil and 1/4 water—for example: if a recipe calls for 1 cup dairy butter, substitute 3/4 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup water. Mix the coconut oil and water together before adding to your recipe.

Try These:
Chocolate Peanut Maple Bars
Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie Dough
Vegan Strudel

Binding Agreements

For desserts that call for gelatin (a by-product of meat processing), try using agar agar powder or flakes. This great thickening agent is made from seaweed. When purchasing agar agar powder, be sure to read the ingredients list—it shouldn’t have any additives in it (a common one to look for is tapioca flour). Citrus-based desserts will need more agar agar because the acidity of the fruit makes it harder for agar to set. Arrowroot powder can replace processed cornstarch. Tapioca flour or starch works well as a lighter option than arrowroot, which can have a stringy texture. Kuzu root starch is ideal for pudding-like desserts.

Try These:
Crème Brûlée
Gluten-Free Chocolate Strawberry Pie
Vegan Samoas

Dairy Doubles

With the wide variety of non-dairy milks on the market, you can easily replace dairy milk in any recipe in a one-to-one ratio. Rivers Samson likes to use almond milk for a creamy, light flavor, but mainly uses coconut milk for its richness. She suggests opting for unsweetened varieties so you have more control over the sweet levels. Full-fat canned coconut milk or soy creamer is a great stand-in for heavy cream. To replace buttermilk, combine 1 tablespoon of a sour liquid (lemon juice, lime juice, or apple cider vinegar) and 1 cup non-dairy milk, whisk, and let sit for 10 minutes.
Try These:
DIY Almond Milk
Hot Chocolate Ice Cream
Vegan Lemon Curd