Sweet Utopia Review & Ultimate Brownies
The best part about getting a new cookbook is flipping through the recipes and flagging all of the “must makes”. The very generous people at Book Publishing Co. sent me Sweet Utopia, by Sharon Valencik to review and share some recipes from. Upon first opening the book, I was instantly struck by the beautiful glossy photos adorning each page. The more I skimmed through the recipes, the more amazed I was at the variety of vegan baked goods the author was able to not only veganize, but make look absolutely mouth watering.
The introduction offers fantastic and helpful tips for successful vegan baking, and even offers numerous pages about ingredient alternatives, and commonly asked conversion questions. In fact, the entire book is broken down to make the baking process as simple and spelled out as possible to ensure a brilliant baking result. No recipes in the book require an egg replacer, which is an added plus for keeping the recipes easy to follow. And actually, after reading the recipes for many intricate looking dishes, I’m shocked at how simple and available the ingredients are. The author also offer variations for many recipes, really pumping up the baking possibilities.
The recipe sections are broken up into five main topics: Decadent Cakes, Scrumptious Cookies, Creamy Cheesecakes and Pies, Velvety Mouses, Puddings, and Cremes, and Luscious Treats. It is going to be difficult to play keep away and only allow myself one recipe a week from this book, however I’d like to share a few stand out recipes that sound and look heavenly: banana-cranberry-cashew cookies, almond macaroons, pumpkin cheesecake pie, three-layer cheesecake bars*, holiday pumpkin trifle, ultimate brownies, banana-caramel swirl, and fruity-berry cookie cobbler*. I even let D flip through the book, and he found mouth watering recipes he requested I try (the starred items). If that doesn’t give the book high marks, I don’t know what else to say.
This book is the vegan’s answer to decadent baking and I can see it becoming my go-to recipe bible for dazzling non-vegans at gatherings and holidays.
I could hardly wait to dive into the recipes, and last night I whipped up the Ultimate Brownies. I found the preparation to be amazingly simple, requiring only 10-ingredients that I already had on hand (always a plus). The recipe promises to be gooey, chewy, and fudgy, and I can positively affirm that these vegan brownies hit all the marks! Even D commented on their fudgy quality – and ate three (this may be a baked good consumption record for one sitting).
The recipe yields 9 brownies, which ensures you won’t be snacking on them for too long after your guests leave. I will return to these brownies as my go-to brownie in a pinch, as they meet all my requirements for a successful fudgy brownie!
Courtesy of Book Publishing Co., please enjoy the Ultimate Brownies recipe from Sweet Utopia.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, or 1/3 cup nondairy chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup vegan butter substitute
- 2 tablespoons soy milk
- 1 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup nondairy chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and oil a 9-inch square baking pan. Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a large bowl.
Melt the 2 ounces of semisweet chocolate and all of the sugar and vegan butter substitute in a double boiler over gently simmering water. Alternatively, place them in a microwave=safe bowl and microwave at medium power for 1-minute. Stir. Microwave for 25 seconds longer and stir until smooth. If necessary, microwave for an additional 25 seconds.
Stir the chocolate mixture, the soymilk, and vanilla extract into the flour mixture using a wooden spoon. Fold in 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips, and 1/4 cup of optional walnuts. Spoon and press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips and optional walnuts over the top, pressing them in gently so they stick to the batter. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.
What’s your go-to brownie recipe?