Ask A Chef:
Get excited everyone: vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli’s new dessert cookbook, Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, hit bookstores today. Coscarelli, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, is a graduate of New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute and author of the much-loved Chloe’s Kitchen. Below, this diva of mouth-watering and almost-too-pretty-to-eat desserts shares her essential vegan ingredient substitutions and more.
What do you use as a replacement for butter and eggs?
To substitute for butter, I use olive, canola, or coconut oil. I use Earth Balance’s buttery spread if I want a buttery flavor.
To substitute for eggs, I use baking soda with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice. When baking soda is combined with acid, a chemical reaction occurs that results in a moist and fluffy product that holds the ingredients together, much like eggs do. For cookie or pancake recipes, a tablespoon of baking powder does the trick.
Do you use any other surprising substitutions?
Coconut milk is a great substitute for heavy cream. Most people don’t associate coconut milk with desserts, but I use it all the time. When I go to the grocery store and load up my cart with coconut milk, people assume I am making a bunch of Thai coconut curry, but I am really using the milk to prepare ice creams and whipped creams. It gives the desserts a creamy, moist quality that mimics dairy very well and it is the staple of all of my whipped cream recipes. I love it.
What is your favorite type of dessert to make?
Definitely ice cream. I love to prepare it because I love to eat it! Before going vegan, ice cream was one of my favorite foods. However, I wouldn’t feel very good after eating conventional dairy-based ice creams. The ice cream recipes in my cookbook employ a combination of almond milk and coconut milk instead of cow’s milk, and they make me feel light and refreshed afterwards instead of heavy and congested as with dairy versions. I like to use a combination of almond and coconut milk so that neither the almond or coconut flavor is too overpowering. Praline Pecan Ice Cream is a recipe in my new cookbook that is a delectable combination of crunchy, nutty, and sweet.
What are a few of your favorite recipes in the new cookbook?
The Pumpkin Whoopee Pies are my favorite in the fall. I love pumpkin anything. They are hand held, which is something I love about them as well. Tiramisu pancakes are another favorite. They are as heavenly as they sound. They are made with dark chocolate and espresso and are topped with coconut whipped cream. Sticky Toffee Pudding is a big hit amongst both my vegan and non-vegan friends and ends up being the stand-out dessert recipe of the night at taste test parties. People are going crazy over it. It’s a British dessert that tastes as good as, or I dare say even better than, the dairy-filled real thing. It’s naturally sweetened with Medjool dates rather than sugar, so it’s healthier than conventional British pudding too.
What is the most exciting aspect of your job?
This is an easy question: Eating! Naturally, with the development of my cookbooks there is always a ton of eating involved. It’s not unusual for me to prepare upwards of 10 dessert recipes a day. I like to start cooking early in the morning, even as early as 6 or 7 a.m.—which can result in eating dessert for breakfast.