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
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
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
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.
4. Dairy-free dark chocolate
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
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
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.
7. Pumpkin-spiced everything
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
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
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.
10. Canned dough is your friend
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.