Tue Sep 9 2008
Photograph: Jeff Gurwin
Many people—myself once included—regard vegan desserts in much the same light as mystery meat and government cheese: something to be consumed only as a last-ditch alternative to starvation, and certainly not a worthy competitor to its more recognizable counterparts. These people have never been to Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St between Rivington and Stanton Sts, 212-253-0036), the Lower East Side bakery–record store–club that is one of several NYC homes to the Peanut Butter Bomb ($5.50 per slice) and the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie ($3), two of the most mind-blowing members of the city’s dessert pantheon, vegan or otherwise. The former, which looks like a cross section of a camel’s hump, is two parts moist, tender chocolate cake and one part fluffy peanut butter filling, adding up to a dessert that could be classified as a controlled substance. The latter comprises two cakey pumpkin cookies, each the size of a dessert plate, separated by an inch and a half or so of creamy filling thick enough to double as a pillow upon which your diet can rest its weary head. Amazingly, both desserts, which come from Pennsylvania’s Vegan Treats, owe their powers to a soy base rather than vegetable shortening, according to the company’s owner, Danielle Konya. She and her crew do all manner of things (which Konya keeps a well-guarded secret) to soy milk and tofu, resulting in baked goods that will satisfy the cravings of die-hard dairy fanatics and night-crawling sugar fiends alike. Proving, once and for all, that there is life beyond butter and eggs, and that that life is sweet indeed.