Contributed by author [Katy Malkin] an adventurous writer, sweet-toothed foodie, and the creator of Learner Vegan. She is passionate about making veganism accessible for all.
Valentine’s Day is almost here – but do you love it or loathe it? Whether you’re an old romantic or flame-extinguisher, you can’t deny that this holiday provides a great excuse to enjoy some beautiful sweet treats. Many restaurants are fully booked for meals on Feb 14, so if you’ve missed out on your favorite haunt, how about making a simple dessert at home for your loved one? My delicious Top Five Treats are all vegan, so can be enjoyed by anybody. They have no animal products but all of the taste! It’s even better if you’re single, because you can have these goodies all to yourself – enjoy.
1. The Cute Treat
Nothing says “I love you” like tiny cupcakes topped with gorgeous frosting. They really add the personal touch. Cupcakes are also perfect if you’re enjoying Valentine’s Day with little ones or having the family over – no slicing cakes or leftover mess! Check out my super simple recipe, ready in less than 30 minutes:
160ml soy milk with 2 tsp lemon juice stirred in
80g dairy-free butter, melted
3 tbsp maple syrup
125g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Simply preheat your oven to 180oc. Mix together butter and sugar, then add your vanilla and milk/lemon mixture. Stir well, and then add flour, baking powder and cocoa. Spoon your finished mixture into cases, cook for around 15 minutes, and leave to cool. Finally… eat.
You can sub out the cocoa for extra vanilla if you’re not a fan of chocolate.
TIP: for a pink frosting, simply mix 0.5 cup butter with 3 cups powdered sugar. Stir in pureed beets or a dot of food coloring.
2. The Chicago Signature Treat
We all know that the city is famous for its deep-dish pizza. Lovely, gooey goodness on Sunnyside Ave makes me drool. But did you know you can make dessert pizza too? Oh yes – be prepared for Cinnamon Streusel Dessert Pizza. It’s a fantastic indulgence if you’re looking for something a little quirky. Find the recipe at GoDairyFree – it’s allergen friendly and makes enough for seconds.
3. The Cozy Treat
It’s not a romantic evening without cuddling up in front of the fire, under a blanket, warm drink in hand. If regular coffee isn’t enough on your special day, try my chocolate latte for an inviting treat. It’s even suitable for taking out in a flask, on a lakeside cruise with the city skyline behind you, or strolling through Jackson Park. This sweet latte will keep you warm regardless of the adventure you’re on. And of course, it’s easy to make.
Simply brew up a peppermint tea in hot water. Remove your teabag after 5 minutes, add 2 tbsp coconut milk powder, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp cacao powder, a dash of cinnamon, and blend. Blending isn’t essential (you can stir) but it will give you a nice frothy top and ensure the latte is fully mixed.
Extra points if you dust with cocoa, or take whipped cream and marshmallows along in a little bag.
4. The Fancy Treat
If you’re seriously dedicated to impressing your Valentine, you can’t go wrong making your own truffles. The only issue is that they’re so bite-sized and addictive, before you know it you’ve eaten 10 and haven’t saved any for your date. Oops! If you think you can resist, I have the easiest recipe to impress, from Minimalist Baker – just 4 ingredients. If you’re feeling naughty, add a drop of your chosen liqueur into these treats to delight your loved one.
No time to spare? Visit Chicago-based Vosges Boutique for beautifully elegant chocolate gifts that are vegan-friendly. I highly recommend the Coconut Ash and Banana bar.
5. The Cheating Treat
We’re not all chefs. But luckily, in vibrant Chicago there are plenty of goodies on offer to buy. Pop down to Alice and Friends’ Kitchen on N Broadway St for some gorgeous plant-based cakes to take away. They have tiramisu, donuts, brownies and more. You can even order a whole meal to go, for a romantic night in at home with minimal effort. There’s also The Chicago Diner for delicious cakes, or Pie Pie My Darling for cookies and pies. Beautiful sweet treats on every block.
So, what are you doing this Valentine’s Day? I’ll be choosing No. 3 – ‘The Cozy Treat’ with my husband and a movie when our little one is in bed. Whatever your plans are, make sure you indulge – and make the most of the Chicago sights and delicacies.