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Vegan Sweets That Everyone Can Love

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We became believers in the power of positive vegan desserts after sampling the goods from Vegan Treats , a 10-year-old bakery based in Bethlehem, Pa. The rich cakes, huge cookies, sticky buns, doughnuts, whoopie pies and loaded brownies are dairy-free, egg-free and "cruelty-free," says owner and vegan Danielle Konya. They look great, too.

The 33-year-old says competitors have been trying to figure out her recipes for years. Konya began baking at home after she graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York and was working in a gallery; neighbors and friends would stop by and ask, "Where are my vegan treats?" The name stuck. Soon, restaurants were placing orders and she had to find commercial kitchen space. Her wedding cake business has grown each year.

In 2006, Konya's Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bombe (at right) won best-in-show honors in a dessert contest, competing against entries from more than 40 non-vegan bakeries. That same year, Vegan Treats was named company of the year by VegNews Magazine.

Nine-inch cakes in dozens of flavors run from $35 to $45. We liked the Summer Citrus Cake, with its Key lime and lemon zest and fluffy, tofu-based lemon cream, and the Fresh Fruit Cheesecake, with a crunchy nut crust and arrowroot to help firm up the soy cream cheese. The award-winning bombe, also tofu-based, features subtly flavored peanut butter mousse and is coated with a killer Belgian-chocolate shell.

In our area, Busboys and Poets has carried Vegan Treats for about two months and reports that customers are "hot" for the products. It sells the cheesecake ($5.95 per slice), cookies ($2.95) and chocolate or peanut-butter brownies ($5.95, served with soy ice cream) at both locations, on 14th Street NW and in Shirlington (202-387-7638 and 703-379-9756, respectively). A selection of Vegan Treats items including cakes by the slice is also available at Java Green downtown (202-775-8899) and at Savory Cafe in Takoma Park (301-270-2233).

See http://www.vegantreats.com or call 610-861-7660; special-order drop-offs are available for the Washington area.

Hot Gifts for Father's Day

The first batch of 2,500 special bottles of Tabasco's Avery Island Reserve, made in honor of the McIlhenny Co.'s 140th anniversary, has sold out, but consider perhaps a pewter Tabasco flask (eight ounces, $28.95) or Tabasco Wood Chips, made from the oak barrels used to age McIlhenny's famous hot pepper sauce (two-pound bag, $4.95).

Both are available by Internet order only at http://countrystore.tabasco.com.

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