Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Road Swallows: A Pilgrimage to Vegan Treats

It's approximately eleventy-billion degrees in my apartment. Between how crazy stressed I've been and the extreme heat, I haven't even thought about turning on my oven this past week, and can't imagine doing it anytime soon. Luckily for you, I'm behind on posts and I've got a backlog of pictures and goodies to write about to hold us over until the temps go down or I get an industrial fan. 

Two weekends ago I visited Scranton, and on the way up the turnpike I made an impromptu stop in Bethlehem. Yeah, Bethlehem, PA. Why? Because it's the holy land for vegans and the lactose intolerant. Stay with me here. 

If you're a vegan with a sweet tooth in the Northeast, Vegan Treats is your Mecca. Everyone makes a pilgrimage at some point or another. If traveling for treats isn't your style, they deliver to lots of restaurants from NYC to DC. I've tried some of their cakes before in Philly, and you may have too if you've ever had vegan dessert at the Royal Tavern or Cantina Los Caballitos. They can also be found at New Harmony Vegetarian, Kingdom of the Vegetarians in Chinatown, and lots of coffee shops like Last Drop and Mugshots. For a full list of locations in Philadelphia, or your town, that carry Vegan Treats, check out their website. They've got a google map feature that will help you get their goods in your belly. And trust me, you want these in your belly.
I decided to try a little bit of everything, and dropped around $20 on a mixed bag of treats. Then I shared them over the weekend with all my favorite people in Scranton: those wonderful peeps at Eden, Amanda over at The Fanciful Fox, and of course, my favorite Italian Carolyn. So, let's take a closer look at what we tried.
The Pumpkin Whoopie pie was ENORMOUS. I had it for dessert after another delicious meal at Eden- A Vegan Cafe. I shared it with about 8 people. It tasted like fall, and had everyone nervous that it might not be vegan. That's how good it was. Also, whatever it is that Vegan Treats is doing to get that filling so light and subtly sweet and delcious, I need to know. I. NEED. TO. KNOW.
These donuts blew my mind. Probably the best donuts I've ever had in my life. The one on the left is boston creme; the one on the right is chocolate with sprinkles. After the first bite, I immediately regretted not buying a dozen assorted donuts. I'm not a huge fan of donuts, but I'd eat these every day. The chocolate donut with sprinkles in particular had a really great texture, not too cakey, but soft and chewy. It was very chocolately and not-too sweet. I bow down to the bakers at Vegan Treats.
(Side-donut note: I shared half of the chocolate sprinkles donut with Amanda at the Fanciful Fox, and I totally made her week. We started talking, and I had this pseudo-celebrity moment where she was all like, "OMG, you're Sweet Swallows!?" And I was all like, "yeah, you want a muffin and some donut?" and she was all like, "YES!" and then she tried to convince me to move to Scranton and set up a vegan bakery on Adams Ave. I'm still considering it. Also, expect to hear more about the ladies and the goods at the Fanciful Fox soon. Their products are vegan and fair trade and awesome.)
I waited till the next day while baking with Carolyn to try anything else. We did a tasting of the rest of the items, and left the rest for her family to enjoy. First up, we tried the truffles.
I thought I had bought cookies and creme truffles. I guess I heard wrong though, because these tasted like mint cake truffles. When you're expecting dark chocolately truffles, and instead get a minty, chewy cake, it's a pretty big let down. Carolyn and I were both a little disappointed in these.
We tried the brownies next. I had gotten two different kinds, cookies and creme and peanut butter bombes. The brownie itself wasn't much to write home about. It was a little dry, very thin, and not as fudgy as I like. If you've been following along with the blog, you'll know I've been in search of the perfect brownie recipe, and it actually made me feel a little better to know that these brownies weren't great either. The cookies and creme topping tasted like a light buttercream mixed with crushed up Newman's O's. It was ok, but not amazing. The peanut butter bombe, on the other hand, was over the moon dreamy! Light-as-air peanut butter mousse, covered in a chocolate, and a peanut butter drizzle all over. Holy Moly, was that delicious! 
Last, we tried a little Lemon Strawberry cake. It looked adorable, the cutest little size (about 3", maybe). The taste was pretty under-whelming. Keep in mind that I'm not a big fan of cake to begin with, but the cake was much to dense for my liking. The strawberry filling was very good, but because the cake was so small, there was not much filling to be had. The icing was similar in taste and texture to the icing on the cookies and creme brownie. Like most of the treats I tried, it had a nice light texture and wasn't too sweet. Unfortunately, this cake failed to impress me. 

Overall, the trip was DEFINITELY worth my time, and I'll probably do it again soon. Some final thoughts:

  • Carolyn and I both agreed that the donuts and the whoopie pies were the best. Truffles were the least favorite. 
  • I thought that some items were over priced, but some were a great deal. The mixed box all balanced out in the end. 
  • The shop was really cute, the display case looked beautiful and there was a big variety of treats to choose from.
  • However, nothing was labeled in the case, and no prices were displayed, so I had to ask about everything.
  • The girl working behind the counter was as friendly as she needed to be, but not very helpful. I explained to her it was my first time there and asked for advice on what I should try. She was pretty vague and failed to excite me about anything. I mean, I get it, you're working and would probably rather have Saturday off. But I feel that if you work in a bakery that's been written about in national publications, has been lauded by the press, and is carried by restaurants in major cities on the east coast, you could muster a little enthusiasm, and tell me one or two things that I should definitely try. Maybe I'm just spoiled by the service I get at Eden.
  • I hear they deliver donuts to some coffee shops in Philly. I need to do more research on this...

Vegan Treats
1444 Linden St
Bethlehem PA 18018
phone: 610-861-7660


  1. Make sure you share any info you find on the donuts being sold in Philly ... I want one now!! I just may have to stop on my next trip to Scranton!!

  2. Colleen:

    I've heard about the donuts being in some shops here but I can't remember where. You might want to ask Kelly, the girl who writes the blog Living on the Vedge. I'm willing to bet she knows.


  3. We were just in downtown Bethlehem last week...we'll have to check it out next time we're there!

  4. Judy, it's totally worth the trip, and not far off the turnpike.

    Nicole, I'm on it!