The Vegan Confectionery: Sweet Adventure, or Rocky Road?
In the United States, some manufacturers have used bovine bone char for the carbon filter used in the refining stage of table sugar, for brown sugar -- which is usually just white cane sugar that is toasted or mixed with molasses -- for the beige type popularly but erroneously called “raw”sugar, and even for powdered sugar. The high heat transforms the bones into carbon, indistinguishable from that of wood or coal sources. The carbon is used over and over for several years; b one residue does not become part of the finished product.
Because it has long been impossible to determine whether bones, wood, or coal has been employed in the early stages of sugar production, some vegans believe it is best avoided, or they opt for pure maple syrup. Or they select sugars known to use wood and coal in the refining process, such as Jack Frost (white or brown) and the Hain brand. The latter is easy to find, and we have tested it with excellent results in our recipes.
Turbinado sugar is also not bone-filtered; nor is sugar sold under the “Florida Crystals” trademark, even though it is made from cane. Stevia is also free of the bone ash filtering, and is thought to have nutritional value. If you live in the Midwest, you can get white or brown beet sugar, which does not require charcoal filtering as cane sugar does.
Molasses can be derived by separating the sugar without bone ash filtration. But some products might have molasses in the given ingredients, or even be grown on molasses, as yeast is. What then? Does that put them off-limits to vegans?
As vegan chef Joanne Stepaniak has observed, most foods eventually come in contact with animal products, directly or indirectly. Insects and worms land on or burrow through growing plants, and occasionally end up ground up or packaged with them. Food transport vehicles--like the vehicles carry clothing and common household supplies-- have components that contain animal by-products, and run over roads, rails, or runways that displaced animals and destroyed habitat when they were constructed. These vehicles also emit fumes and pollutants and often inadvertently kill free-living animals. Most plant foods are packed in plastic bags that probably contain animal by-products, or paper bags constructed with animal-based adhesives. So perhaps the most practical approach is the following: If a vegetable or a plant-based food contains no overt animal products or by-products, it is deemed vegan.
Adding to the complexities here, a number of vegan food companies have been absorbed by huge multinationals. Takeovers are constant in this area, so you might wish to learn current identities of various products’ parent companies if you have a spectrum of products available to you. We also urge support for vegan organic growers. These are farmers who do not rotate their crops with animal agriculture or its products; and they are careful not to harm the myriad small animals on their lands. Their crops are more expensive, but they will only thrive if the public looks them up and participates in their work or buys their produce.
At last, freedom! Here is the classic chocolate cake everybody asks for, and it’s now 100% dairy free.
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons natural sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened nonalkalized cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup brewed coffee, cooled
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, or 2 teaspoons chocolate extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 8-by-8-inch pan. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
Combine water, oil, vinegar, vanilla and almond extract. Stir the two mixes together to make a smooth batter. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Slide a slim knife around the cake to detach it from the pan. Invert the cake and let cool right side up on the rack. Serve plain, dusted with Hain Organic Powdered Sugar, or use our Distinguished Chocolate Frosting .
Tip : Star Kay White’s Pure Chocolate Extract adds a rich chocolate flavor.
An eminent finish for the Liberated Chocolate Cake.
4 squares (4 ounces) unsweetened bar baking chocolate
2 tablespoons melted vegan margarine
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1 pound Hain Organic Powdered Sugar
Melt the baking chocolate; let it cool slightly and add melted margarine, water, vanilla and salt. Stir in powdered sugar. Spread on cake while frosting is warm.