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10 Vegan dessert hacks every baker should know

Justina Huddleston is an editor and the head writer for TDmonthly Magazine. She has been a freelance writer for several years, though her real passion is cooking. You can see the recipes she creates on her vegan food blog, A Life of Litt...

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Decadent desserts and veganism can go hand in hand, as long as you know your way around the kitchen.

These vegan dessert hacks will help you churn out totally crave-worthy sweets, from meringues to puddings to classic cakes, that will impress everyone who takes a bite.

1. Coconut whipped cream

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Are you dairy-free but still craving a cloud of rich-yet-fluffy whipped topping on your desserts? You can make your own using canned coconut milk. Refrigerate the can overnight, then skim off the semisolid white layer from the top of the can (reserving the liquid below for another use). Whip the coconut cream until soft peaks form, just as you would with traditional cream.

2. Vegan aquafaba meringue

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Image: Pickles & Honey

The latest vegan cooking craze is using aquafaba, the brine found in canned chickpeas or white beans, as a replacement for meringue. You can use it to make everything from traditional meringues on pie and baked Alaska to buttercream frosting and marshmallow fluff.

3. 1-Ingredient vegan ice cream

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Image: The Cookie Writer

A creamy, frosty vegan treat is always just one banana away. Cut a banana into coins, then freeze. You can then simply blend the bananas in your food processor or blender until smooth. Feel free to add sweetener or other flavorings, though the frozen banana "nice cream" is great on its own — and the perfect excuse to have dessert for breakfast.

More: In a pickle: How to feed a vegan

4. Dairy-free dark chocolate

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Image: Cultured Palate

You can make your own dairy-free chocolate chips, bark, bars — you name it — with coconut oil, a sweetener and cocoa powder. Liquid coconut oil firms right up in the fridge, giving you the same solid, snappy texture of regular dairy chocolate.

5. Sweet potato caramel

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Image: The Vegan 8

Combining cooked sweet potato and canned coconut milk turns out a dairy-free, corn syrup-free, nut-free caramel that tastes delicious and can be enjoyed by just about anyone. Best of all, it's just as sticky and delicious as the original.

6. Avocado pudding

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Image: In It 4 the Long Run

Creamy, luscious puddings are still in reach for vegan eaters thanks to avocado. Their mild flavor and silky texture when blended make avocados the perfect base for pudding, whether you like chocolate, vanilla or mango.

More: 21 Vegan copycat recipes of your favorite restaurant meals

7. Pumpkin-spiced everything

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Image: Chocolate-covered Katie

You might associate pumpkin with dairy-rich desserts, but it turns out that canned pureed pumpkin is a great vegan baking substitute. It can take the place of eggs as a binder and replaces butter or oil to add richness and moisture while also contributing extra nutrients and fiber to your recipe. And while you can go with the traditional pumpkin spice flavor profile, the puree on its own is relatively mild, so you can use it year-round in tons of different desserts (like these brownies). In general, 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree is equal to one egg, and you should use a 1:1 ratio to replace oil, while you need only three-quarters as much pumpkin as butter in a recipe.

8. Vegan soda cake

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Image: One Good Thing by Jillee

Need a cake in a pinch but don't feel like fussing over which vegan baking replacements you need to make? No worries — many boxed cake mixes happen to be vegan. All you need to do is add a can of soda and bake as usual for a semi-homemade vegan dessert.

9. Bake with buttermilk

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Image: The Real Meal

Sure, it doesn't contain butter or milk, but vegan buttermilk is still a perfect substitute. Use your favorite vegan milk, whether soy, coconut or almond, and add 1 tablespoon of white or cider vinegar per cup. Just let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and you've got buttermilk. Try it out in this vegan buttermilk cake with blackberries.

More: These vegan and gluten-free baking alternatives will change your life

10. Canned dough is your friend

Genius hacks for over-the-top delicious vegan desserts, dairy not included

Image: Lil' Luna

Many canned biscuits and crescent rolls (Pillsbury, for one) are vegan, and they're a great starting point for vegan desserts. You can make doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread — just be creative, and you'll be rewarded with a delicious vegan dessert.

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