hugs to allison’s gourmet

Artisan Vegan Caramels from Allison's Gourmet

Artisan Vegan Caramels from Allison’s Gourmet

Are you familiar with Allison’s Gourmet? You should be. Allison, maven of mmmm, is all about chocolate. Award-winning, artisan, organic, dairy-free, fair-trade chocolate. Oh, and it’s out of this world delicious too. Do yourself a favour and get acquainted. May I suggest the pure vanilla caramels? I’m a fan. Take a look at Allison’s site and feast your eyes. You can’t go wrong with any of the choices there—with cookies, brownies, toffee, brittle, fudge, chocolates, caramels, tea, coffee, and hot chocolate—there are endless gift-giving possibilities. Why not include yourself s a recipient?

A longtime admirer,  I had the pleasure of meeting Allison in person at last summer’s VVC in Portland–so when she recently asked if she could interview me for the Friday With Friends series on her blog, I was chuffed. Check it out here, blush. It’s short and sweet and focuses on my enthusiasm for vegan baking and my massive sweet tooth.

*photo used with permission from Allison’s Gourmet


chocolate vegan.

This afternoon I enjoyed a lovely snack of coffee and cake – and not just any cake. A gorgeous, chocolate, dairy-free, vegan slice of heaven.

During a recent jaunt to the city I made sure to visit Whole Foods Market, my personal mecca of vegan and vegetarian tasty treats. This time I remembered to pick up their vegan chocolate cake. It’s marketed as ‘Dairy Free Chocolate Cake’ yet the organic ingredient list is clearly devoid of eggs – in other words the scary V-word is nowhere to be found but vegan it is.

The cake is moist, rich and unabashedly decadent to be sure. It is adorned with a fabulously smooth and satisfying chocolate ganache. One day my own dairy-free ganache will be as good as this – mine has a habit of solidifying on me, whereas this ganache remains pleasantly moist.

Ah, chocolate – you have no equal. I will forever be your servant.

The rich chocolatey goodness of this fine cake got me thinking about vegan chocolate in general, particularly the fine, handmade variety. Around me it seems to be somewhat of a scarcity. I’m not referring to vegan chocolate in bar form, which is quite plentiful – I am no stranger to Green & Black’s Organic Maya Gold (such sweet heaven and fair trade). I’m thinking of artisan chocolates – those very fine, invariably expensive sweet delights referred to as chocolate truffles.

I’ve heard rumours here and there of fine vegan chocolate that can be had far, far away (Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, for example), but alas – none in my immediate Torontonian vicinity. Vegan’s aren’t the only ones who might appreciate some fine chocolate – I have many a lactose intolerant friend who would embrace some fine dairy-free chocolate goodness.

I made a few enquiries and found that the following chocolate makers offer some dairy-free, vegan options – all of which are available in Canada:

Kerstin’s Chocolates – Dark chocolate is vegan.

Teuscher – Swiss chocolate legend – select dark chocolate is vegan.

Lagusta’s Luscious – Often raved about, these American chocolate artisans don’t ship outside of the US, but Canadian buyers can get them through The Vegan Store.

Dolphin Natural Chocolate – this Canadian chocolatier contributes a percentage of their profits to the Environmental defense Fund. Check out their Vegan Mix, a selection of chocolates including Mint Crisp, Organic Peanut Butter, Roasted Almond and Solid Dark.

There are a few more chocolate artists from whom I am waiting to hear back – will update when I do.

In the mean time, if anyone has a favourite vegan chocolatier, please share with this addict.

serendipiTea update.

Recently, my much anticipated shipment from SerendipiTea (a.k.a. the best tea ever) arrived. I unpacked my treasure with gleeful fond memories of Eve’s Temptation, that joyous elixir of old, and couldn’t wait to brew myself a cup. Ah, what sweet anticipation – the aroma was overwhelming as I opened the box. The scent! Such sweet pungency has never before visited my nose.

I ordered four different large packs of loose tea and one small tin. The large packs of loose tea come in paper bags which sit inside recycled cardboard boxes. The packaging is simple, recyclable, and elegant. Sustainable and environmentally friendly – as if I need more reasons to adore this tea.

If I thought the scent was pungent when the box was closed, I was completely blown away when I actually opened it. I was immediately met with an awesome display of colour and texture – truly as much a feast for the eyes as for the nose. Eve’s Temptation is composed of quite large pieces of apple and mango, and nothing else.

I also purchased a box of rather tall, unbleached tea filters which are designed to sit upright in the glass. Now for the revered tasting.

Verdict? Heaven in a glass. Sweet, smooth, and just as wonderful as I remembered.

After having my fill of the star of the day, Eve’s Temptation, I turned to the other intriguing teas in my order – and there were no disappointments there. Each tea is unique and wonderful in its own way:

  • Eve’s Temptation: Apple, Mango – simply amazing, smooth and sweet
  • Chaucer’s Cup: Apple, Mango, Cloves, Cardamom, Ginger, Fruit, Spices – sweet & spicy, tastes like Christmas – gives Eve’s Temptation a run for its money
  • Monk’s Mead: Apple, Mango, Chamomile – soothing, calming, wonderfully enjoyable – fair trade
  • Genesis: Apple, Mango, Green Tea – much stronger than others, green tea flavour features most prominently
  • Gaucho: Cloves, Cardamom, Ginger, Yerba Mate – spicy and awakening, great in the morning, the first Yerba Mate blend I’ve actually really liked

The quality of SerendipiTea is tops. Their service is super friendly and efficient, and my order arrived very fast. I’ll surely be making regular orders to keep up with what will certainly become a habit. The circle is complete.