Saturday, June 11, 2016

Kindle Vegan Chocolate Cookbook

The Tomoson program sometimes offers me products that I think might be interesting to you. I know that some of you are not just chocolate lovers but also vegans or vegetarians. While I do not follow that dietary philosophy, I can appreciate your frustrations with finding chocolate that meets your needs. I always value your questions and comments about vegan and vegetarian chocolate. As you know dark chocolate is really your best bet for chocolate but another way to get the chocolate treats that you need, is to make your own goodies, right? So let's look at this Kindle cookbook, 101 Vegan Chocolate Recipes: A Vegan Cookbook Delight by Sam Kuma. I received this product free in exchange for an honest review on Amazon, an honest review here on The Chocolate Cult, and a few social media shares of our review here. No other form of compensation was received for this review.

The first thing you need to know about this ebook is that it is only available two ways -- as a Kindle download or a Kindle Cloud download that you can read on your Amazon account. Personally I found this very limiting because not only did I need to have my computer running to read a recipe but I also needed to be logged into Amazon since I don't have a Kindle of any sort currently.

Let's look at the book itself before I share the three recipes I tested. There are plusses and minuses to this ecookbook. On the plus side, every recipe has a photo, each recipe has basic nutritional information (calories, carbs, fats, proteins), and you can jump to each recipe by using the table of contents.

On the minus side there are some typos, missing steps in the directions, and layout problems. After recipe #22 "Three Ingredient Brownies" there is an entire page of lines as well as unnecessary lines on the recipe's first page and the page right before recipe #23. Recipe #43 "Dark Chocolate Truffles" has a photo but you have to page forward to see it; either the photo needed to be smaller or the text under it moved so the image could fit under the title. This photo problem happens with recipes #48, #55, #67, #76, #79, #80, #83, #88, #97. Is this photo issue a problem with the Amazon Cloud format and not the book? I don't know because I can't see the Kindle version but I doubt so since the same company is really formatting this book.

I struggled to find recipes to test because many of the recipes use tree nut milks and tree nut flours. The milks I understand because dairy is common in chocolate recipes and you'd need a substitute but flours? That feels like an unnecessary change and frankly since I wasn't paid for this review, I don't have the money to go out and buy what I consider "fancy" ingredients. On top of that, my husband is allergic to tree nuts and he is not okay with me recipe testing and wasting money on items he can't enjoy himself. These repeated tree nut ingredients really limited what I could test out.

My Results from Recipe
#30 "Chocolate Oreo Cheesecake"

Many questions for this recipe both in terms of ingredients and directions or instructions which are called "Procedure" in this cookbook.

How many Oreos equals 1.5 cups of crushed? At the bottom of the recipe it also lists "20 Oreos" -- is that to be crushed or is that extra? The ingredient list is unclear but reading through the recipe I think it is 20 total to be crushed up.

How do you combine the crushed cookies with the vegan butter? Do you melt the butter first? That's what I've done to make cookie and cracker crusts so I did it this time but the recipes needs this information.

What size of cake pan? I use a special cheesecake pan myself with I make this sort of dessert.

How would the sugar dissolve into the cream? Do you heat it? Do you just mix it? This is very unclear and by now I'm starting to get angry at this cookbook.

Suddenly the dark listed in the ingredients is melted? When did that happen?

The final problem with this recipe is that the photo looks like you have oreos inside of the cheesecake mixture but at no point does it say to add them... what? Not only that but the image from the cookbook compared to the final product I made shows another big difference. Adding in the cocoa and the dark chocolate makes the cake brown not light gray. The differences in these two results makes me a bit skeptical that the ecookbook photo is really from this recipe at all!

The result was definitely tasty but it did not have a cheesecake texture at all. I think if it had just been refrigerated rather than frozen and twice as much vegan cream cheese used, it would have had the expected texture and flavor.

#38 "Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies"

This recipe also has problems. It lists "1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract" in the ingredients but at no point in the procedure is it mentioned. I added in with the initial steps because it is the most logically point to add it when you are blending icing sugar, dark cocoa powder, and vegan butter.

It says to knead the dough until it is ready but does not describe what "ready" means... do not assume that your readers will know these things, cookbooks!

The procedure says to cut the dough into discs after it has frozen for 3 hours but it does not say how big. Assuming the nutritional information is correct, this recipe should make about 12 cookies only. That doesn't seem like many considering the amount of work that goes into them. Why is the size or number of cookies so important to me? Because the thickness of the discs will affect how long you need to bake them. I measured there and at 12 cookies they seem a bit thick so I cut them into 16 pieces so we'll see how that does. By the way, the recipe says that it serves 6 people, the photo shows a stack of three cookies, it is just very confusing in terms of number of cookies.

This step just really confused me: 8. Place the disks on a baking tray. Leave the parchment paper on. On what exactly? Along the edges, on the top or bottom, or on the baking sheet? At no point are we told to remove the parchment paper and I've made shortbread cookies before and never been told to any sort of paper on.

I think the freezing the dough only make it more difficult to cut. I could understand putting them in the refrigerator maybe but I've always just put shortbread cookies straight into the oven to bake. I think this made the cookies less likely to spread out and they retained their rolled and frozen form.

But how do these cookies taste? Great!

#48 "Chocolate Covered Popcorns"

This is a much simpler recipe and fairly straightforward. But I have a few comments and questions that arose as I worked on it.

I do not believe that 1/2 Cup Grated Dark Chocolate is enough information -- how many ounces or grams is that? What percentage of chocolate works best for popcorn?

Why melt the coconut oil in a pan (on the stove I assume) but the chocolate in the microwave? That just messes up two different dishes. The same question: Why you'd need to put the popcorn on a cookie sheet if you are tossing the popcorn and the chocolate in a bowl (I assume again)?

My results look more chocolatey but I may have mixed and tossed them more. Frankly I thought this used a bit too much coconut oil, I thought it would have worked with half the amount.

The results were very chocolatey and very yummy!

There you have it, my testing of three recipes out of 101 in 101 Vegan Chocolate Recipes: A Vegan Cookbook Delight. What did you think? I can't recommend this book; too many problems with it. To be blunt, this is either a cookbook by someone who doesn't cook and is just changing recipes without trying them out OR a very experienced cook who doesn't think that there needs to be all of the directions because the user will just know what to do. No, you can't assume what your reader will or will not know when you make a cookbooks.

But if you think this could solve a need you have for more chocolate in your life, follow the link below and order your own copy but make sure you have a Kindle or an Amazon account so you can read it.

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