Sweethings in Florence

I was so excited when I figured out there was a vegan bakery only half a mile for my Florence hotel. I had to get there fast!

It was the end of the day, but there were still a few things to try. The storefront is adorable and the two people working there were super nice.

I tried the chocolate cake with an apricot layer, raw chocolate truffle with raspberry, and lemon cake. Hubby also tried an apricot tart, but didn’t let me taste it. Actually, it was gone before I realized I should have asked for a bite.

Everything was fantastic. Full of flavor but not super sweet, just the way I appreciate vegan sweets.

When in Florence, absolutely swing by Sweethings. It’s not a restaurant, and actually sells vegan cupcakes, but deserves five out of five vegan cupcakes.


Little Secrets

I went to this adorable all vegan bodega in Brooklyn today. I wish it was closer to my neighborhood because they carry my dog food (V Dog)! I had never seen my dog food in a store before.

Another treasure I found were these Little Secrets. These were small enough to bring home and I am so glad I did. I have missed candy covered chocolates. If you can find some, these are super yummy.

So Delicious CocoWhip


Don’t have time to whip up your own coconut milk whipped cream? No problem, So Delicious has you covered. And it’s yummers. I quick made some berry layers for dessert and hubby was thrilled.

There is also a low-fat option, but I don’t worry about the good fats from coconut milk. On top of that, I have been reading lots about how low-fat options are not heathier. They tend to have more sugar or chemicals to provide a desired flavor. As always, it’s more about eating unprocessed foods.

Wink Frozen Desserts

Don’t try these. I was so excited to find “cake batter” and explore what this dessert offers without allergens. But what it delivered was a strange taste and a tummy ache. I even tried to enhance with chocolate syrup, fresh fruit, and chocolate chips. No winning with this stuff and I actually threw it away. I despise throwing away food and was extra sad I felt I couldn’t eat any more of it. Save yourself and get something else.

Sugar Cookies

Hubby said he missed his mom’s sugar cookies at the holidays, so I decided to try my hand at them. They were a hit! We both gorged and had to drink lots of water to soften our sour stomachs from too much sugar.

Hubby likes his cookies soft and chewy and the recipe below does that. If you like yours more crunchy, bake the cookies longer. Also, I no longer have any cookie cutters for fun shapes and instead created a log to cut off pieces. Similar to the tubes of cookie dough from some grocery stores. If using cookie cutters, roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper after letting thicken in the fridge. What you will need for the cookies:

1/2 cup Whole Wheat pastry flour

3/4 cup unbleached flour

1/2 c. sugar 

1/4 t. baking soda 

1/2 c. vegan buttery margarine, I use the sticks from Earth Balance

2 TBS  water 

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

For icing (makes enough for two batches of cookies):

1 cup powered sugar

1/8 tsp vanilla extract

1 oz almond milk (or other milk alternative) + more as needed 

1 container decorating sugar or sprinkles

Sift dry cookie ingredients into a large bowl and stir. Cut in margarine with a pastry blender or two knives until the dry ingredients look wet. Make a well in the center and add the vanilla and almond extract. Stir and add the water. Stir more. Will be sticky. Move batter to a piece of parchment paper to make the log. You get to decide how wide you want your cookies. They will expand while baking. Mine was about two inches thick.  

Place parchment paper rolled up batter log in the fridge for about two hours. This will give the margerine enough time to thicken again. If not doing a log, cover the mixing bowl that holds your dough and place that in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. I needed two baking sheets, but it all depends on the size of your sheet and the size of your cookies.

Unwrap dough log and slice off the width of desired cookie. Place cookies on sheets and bake about 10 minutes. This amount of time allowed my cookies to stay soft and chewy. Remove parchement paper with cookies on it from baking sheets to cool a couple minutes.

Sift powdered sugar into a bowl, add vanilla extract and the first ounce of almond milk. Here you can decide the thickness of the icing. Using a spatula, stir everything and add more almond milk as needed. I used my icing as glue for the sugar and thus made it very thin. I wanted to make sure my soft cookies didn’t break. Pour decorating sugar or sprinkles onto a plate. After icing each cookie, turn it over and place icing side on the sugar. The icing will act as glue for the sugar. Turn back over and ta-da! Yummers!

Hail Merry Chocolate Chile Pecan Tarts

I have yet to try a Hail Merry treat I dislike. Excited was an understatement when finding these pecan tarts. Hubby loves pecan tarts!

Unfortunately, he didn’t like these. Too much coconut for him. I really like them, but I don’t taste any pecan. If you like coconut and don’t need the promised pecans, these are worth a try. The chile is tasty, so make sure you like that flavor too.