By Lana Smucker and Erin Holden
Though some might imagine eating vegan as being entirely too restrictive, chefs and restaurateurs all over the city are proving naysayers wrong. Vegans: treat yourself to our favorite guilt-free desserts from this local round-up. Whether you are vegan by choice, for health reasons, or you are curious about it as a lifestyle, these desserts are worth a try.
Sasa Dango Mochi at Sori Sushi
5236 Monroe St., 419-720-7674. sorisushi.com
Long before Westerners coined the term “vegan,” the Japanese have been serving up mochi, a naturally vegan dessert, for over 2,000 years. Find this delight at Sori Sushi, a locally-owned restaurant that makes mochi the Sasa Dango way— in a ball with a pliable rice-flour exterior (Dango) filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in a bamboo leaf (Sasa). Not only a flavorful vegan-friendly dessert, but an elegant feast for the eyes. Not a vegan and craving ice cream filled mochi? Don’t worry— they have that too.
Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins at 7 Little Cupcakes
1021 Sandusky St., Perrysburg. 419-252-0858. 7littlecupcakes.com
This Perrysburg bakery offers a light and airy pumpkin-flavored treat all-year round. A favorite during the fall season, it has the perfect chocolate-chip-to-muffin ratio. If pumpkin spice isn’t your thing, don’t fret—other vegan options are offered and guaranteed for pick-up on Wednesdays and Fridays; specific flavors can be ordered with a week advance notice. 7 Little Cupcakes provides both specialty and traditional items throughout the Toledo area, specializing in custom orders, including vegan wedding cakes.
Vegan Baklava at So Sweet Lebanese & French Pastries
4038 Talmadge Rd., 419-474-5445. Sosweetpastries.com
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the tantalizingly options that lie behind the glass case at this patisserie, but smart vegans who plan ahead can pre-order vegan baklava filled with your choice of walnuts, pistachios and cashews. Executive Pastry Chef Salah Zahafi turns this typically buttery pastry with vegetable oil, but magically maintains a rich, creamy bite and flakey filo texture to create a crunchy and sweet vegan treat.
Vegan Cheesecake at Star of India
415 S. Reynolds Rd., 419-720-6452. Starofindiatoledo.net
Star of India Chef Seema Kaur offers rotating vegan desserts made based on her mood, but her specialty is the customer favorite, the surprisingly creamy vegan cheesecake. A recipe developed after three years of non-stop practice, Kaur developed this unique take on a classic dessert with a secret ingredient: “There are cashews in there, but you can’t even tell,” admits Kaur. “It’s just so creamy and delicious. Even if you aren’t vegan, try it.”
Spiced Chai Scone by Chef Tracy 419 at SIP Coffee
Find assorted vegan baked goods prepared by Chef Tracy 419 at SIP Coffee, a small, welcoming coffee shop tucked in Cricket West off of Central Avenue. Our favorite? The spiced chai scones, made with almond, pecan and walnut flours, and only available during the fall and winter. “Seasonally, I like to add new flavors to products I already have available,” Chef Tracy explained, adding that the key to this scone is “finding the right black tea as a base for it, as is a good chai.” Chef Tracy’s seasonal scone packs all the spice you’ll need for a festive fall season.
Black Cherry Ice Cream at Royal Cravings
2111 N. Reynolds Rd., 419-472-5235. royalcravings.com
It looks and tastes just like dairy-filled ice cream, but it’s completely animal-product free (not an easy feat). Royal Cravings’ vegan black cherry ice cream is made with ingredients combined to fool even the most dubious ice cream fanatics. Trust us, you wouldn’t know it was vegan by taste alone. Royal Cravings began to offer vegan ice cream flavors after collaborating with Vegan Toledo, a blog launched to highlight Toledo’s vegan-friendly spaces. Along with black cherry, the collaboration brought eight vegan flavors to Royal Cravings, including espresso Oreo and raspberry nebula.
Vegan Triple Chocolate Cookie at Organic Bliss Deli & Bakery
3723 King Rd., Sylvania. 419-517-7799. Organicblissmarket.com
Organic Bliss Deli and Bakery truly provides a specialty-food paradise, and there is no better item on the menu than their delicate Vegan Triple Chocolate Cookie. A soft chocolate cookie filled with small bits of chocolate and a stiff chocolate-icing topping, the treat handles like a traditional cookie but is made up of non-traditional ingredients. Organic Bliss has created vegan selections of muffins, cupcakes, sugar cookies, bars and breads. Bonus: You will also find desserts, deli and lunch items, smoothies, juices and salads, all tailored for special diets.
Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookie at BREW Coffee Bar
3002, 2903 Dorr St. Daily, 7-9pm 419-214-1804 brewtoledo.com.
The BREW coffee bar near the University of Toledo provides a sweet, all-vegan cookie fit for ardent chocolate lovers. The vegan chocolate chunk cookie, kept in the refrigerator due to its lack of preservatives, is a crumbly, delicate treat. This chunky cookie has the ideal amount of sweetness and generous amounts of chocolate. The BREW coffee bar offers this cookie, muffins from 7 Little Cupcakes, and items from other local bakeries from around Toledo.