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You don’t always need milk, butter, and eggs to whip up a delicious dessert. From chocolate brownies to an indulgent red velvet sheet cake, here are three delicious vegan desserts you can whip up this weekend. Each one comes from Shanika Graham-White‘s beautiful cookbook, Orchids and Sweet Tea: Plant-Forward Recipes with Jamaican Flavor & Southern Charm (Victory Belt, 2021). These recipes offer just a taste of Shanika’s extensive repertoire of ways to update old favorite recipes with a nutritious, plant-forward twist. Enjoy!

3 Dessert Recipes You Won’t Believe Are Vegan!

Easy Fudgy Vegan Avocado Brownies

This recipe offers an updated take on a classic dessert and can easily be customized. For example, Shanika says you can use a small zucchini in place of an avocado, add peanut butter, or replace the chocolate chips with caramel baking chips. If you’re looking for a gluten-free option: You can substitute the all-purpose baking flour with gluten-free one-to-one flour and reduce the almond milk to half a cup and the vegan butter to one-third cup.

Fudgy vegan avocado brownies, a vegan dessert recipe

These fudge brownies put a delicious vegan twist on a timeless dessert.

Easy Fudgy Vegan Avocado Brownies

Shanika Graham-White
Be sure to check the notes section of this recipe for Shanika's tips on how to make the best brownies!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Vegan
Servings 8 brownies
Calories 441 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup vegan butter melted, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 4 flaxseed eggs or chia eggs see recipes below
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ Hass avocado peeled, pitted, and mashed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon finely ground sea salt
  • 1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips divided

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with vegan butter, then line it with parchment paper, leaving some paper overhanging the sides.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter and sugar until the mixture looks like wet sand. Add the flaxseed eggs, almond milk, mashed avocado, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
  • In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, cacao powder, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon just until fully combined. The batter will be quite thick — almost as stiff as cookie dough.
  • Gently fold in half of the chocolate chips.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top and gently press them into the batter.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes, then lift the brownie out of the pan and transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • Once completely cool, slice into 8 squares and serve. Store leftover brownies in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 5 days. To freeze, wrap the brownies tightly in plastic wrap followed by foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Shortly before serving, thaw at room temperature

Notes

TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST BROWNIES:
#1: Don’t overmix the batter.
#2: Use an appropriate egg substitute. This recipe uses flaxseed eggs or chia eggs as the binder, but those are not the only choices. See page 23 for other options.
#3: Use the right baking pan. Metal pans are the best ones to use because the brownies bake faster; glass baking dishes make them take longer. If using a 9-inch pan instead of an 8-inch pan, the batter will spread out thinner, causing it to bake more quickly.
#4: Use parchment paper! This helps the brownies come out easily, beautifully formed with nice clean edges.
#5: Always wait for the brownies to fully cool before cutting them. Brownies have the best texture and structure when entirely cool.
Recipe credit: Shanika Graham-White, author of Orchids and Sweet Tea: Plant-Forward Recipes with Jamaican Flavor & Southern Charm

Nutrition

Calories: 441kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 6gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 316mgPotassium: 360mgFiber: 8gSugar: 34gVitamin A: 572IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 115mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Brownies, Homemade brownies, Vegan dessert
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Flaxseed Egg

Shanika Graham-White
Looking for a vegan egg substitute? Flaxseed egg does the trick!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 min
Time to Activate 10 mins
Course Ingredient
Cuisine American, Vegan
Servings 1 flaxseed egg
Calories 37 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 3 tablespoons warm water

Instructions
 

  • Put the flaxseed meal and water in a small bowl and stir until combined. Let the mixture sit until thickened and pastelike, 5 to 10 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 37kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 1gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 57mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Vegan, Egg substitute
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Chia Egg

Shanika Graham-White
Chia eggs are another great vegan-friendly egg substitute.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 min
Time to Gel 5 mins
Course Ingredient
Cuisine American, Vegan
Servings 1 chia egg
Calories 58 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons warm water

Instructions
 

  • Put the chia seeds and water in a small bowl and stir until combined. Let the mixture sit until it has a thick gelled consistency, about 5 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 58kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 2gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 49mgFiber: 4gVitamin A: 6IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 77mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Vegan, Egg substitute
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

RELATED: 3 Plant-Based Eating Myths + 3 Healthy Breakfast Recipes

Vegan Sweet Potato Pecan Brownies

While chocolate brownies are always a surefire hit, Shanika says if she’s asked to recommend a brownie, these sweet potato pecan brownies are it! Not only are they soft and rich in flavor, but the sweet potato and chocolate blend together perfectly. She also recommends serving these alongside non-dairy ice cream, fresh fruit, or a sprinkling of powdered sugar to really amp up your brownie game.

Vegan sweet potato pecan brownies

This recipe blends sweet potato and chocolate to create the perfect dessert.

Vegan Sweet Potato Pecan Brownies

Shanika Graham-White
These brownies are the perfect non-dairy dessert!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Vegan
Servings 8 brownies
Calories 471 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • cup vegan butter melted, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 4 flaxseed eggs or chia eggs see recipe above
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup Simple Sweet Potato Puree see recipe below
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon finely ground sea salt
  • 1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips divided
  • ½ cup pecans toasted, divided

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with vegan butter and line it with parchment paper, leaving some paper overhanging the sides.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar until the mixture looks like wet sand.
  • Add the flaxseed eggs, almond milk, and vanilla extract to the butter and sugar mixture and whisk to combine, then whisk in the sweet potato puree until combined.
  • In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, cacao powder, baking powder, and salt, then add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until fully combined. The batter will be very thick and stiff.
  • Gently fold in half of the chocolate chips and half of the toasted pecans.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it out evenly. Top with the remaining chocolate chips and pecans and gently press them into the batter.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then lift the brownie out of the pan and transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • Once completely cool, slice into 8 squares and serve. Store leftover brownies in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 5 days. To freeze, wrap the brownies tightly in plastic wrap followed by foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Shortly before serving, thaw at room temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 471kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 7gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 273mgPotassium: 373mgFiber: 8gSugar: 34gVitamin A: 2059IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 108mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Brownies, Vegan, Homemade brownies, Vegan dessert
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Simple Sweet Potato Puree/Mash

Shanika Graham-White
You can use this sweet potato puree/mash as a binder or natural sweetener.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Ingredient
Cuisine American, Vegan
Servings 3 cups
Calories 171 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 large sweet potatoes about 1 pound
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup water plus more if needed, for the puree

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
  • Rinse and pat dry the sweet potatoes, then poke holes in them using a fork. Coat the potatoes with the olive oil and place on the prepared pan. Bake the potatoes for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender and juices begin to bubble outside of the skin. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool until cool enough to handle, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • To make sweet potato puree: Cut the potatoes down the middle, then open them up and scoop the insides into a high-powered blender. Pour in the water and blend the sweet potato flesh until completely smooth and pureed, 2 to 3 minutes. If the potatoes are too thick to puree to a perfectly smooth consistency, add another tablespoon of water. Proceed to Step 4.
  • To make sweet potato mash: Cut the potatoes down the middle, then open them up and scoop the insides into a bowl. Using a hand-held potato masher or a fork, mash the sweet potatoes until smooth.
  • Use immediately. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months, thawing the puree or mash overnight in the refrigerator before use.

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 2gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 84mgPotassium: 508mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 21375IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Vegan, Vegan dessert, Sweet potato puree
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

RELATED: 4 Gourmet Brownie Recipes Cooked in an Instant Pot

Vegan Red Velvet Sheet Cake with Bourbon Buttercream

Whether you have a special occasion coming up or are just craving a decadent treat, this red velvet sheet cake is truly something spectacular. While it doesn’t use a traditional cream cheese frosting, the bourbon buttercream is not to be missed. If you prefer a traditional vanilla buttercream topping, Shanika says you can omit the bourbon and reduce the powdered sugar by half a cup.

Red velvet sheet cake with bourbon buttercream, a vegan dessert recipe

This red velvet sheet cake is calling our name!

Vegan Red Velvet Sheet Cake with Bourbon Buttercream

Shanika Graham-White
Make this red velvet sheet cake for a special occasion — or just to satisfy your cravings for something sweet!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Vegan
Servings 12 servings
Calories 591 kcal

Ingredients
  

CAKE:

  • Vegan butter for the pan (optional)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • cups cane sugar
  • ½ cup cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon finely ground sea salt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup vegan buttermilk see recipe below
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons natural red food coloring

BOURBON BUTTERCREAM:

  • ½ cup vegan butter room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar sifted, divided, plus more if needed
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of finely ground sea salt
  • Sliced or halved strawberries for topping (optional)

Instructions
 

MAKE THE CAKE:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square cake pan with vegan butter or line it with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and food coloring to the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, mix just until well combined and smooth; make sure no lumps are visible, but be careful not to overmix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then use a rubber spatula to spread it out as evenly as possible. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

MAKE THE BUTTERCREAM:

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and add half of the powdered sugar, the bourbon, almond milk, and vanilla extract; continue mixing until well combined. Add the remaining powdered sugar and pinch of salt, increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and continue mixing until well combined. If the frosting is too thick, add more almond milk 1 tablespoon at a time; if it is too thin, add more powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • Once the cake is completely cool, use a metal frosting spatula to top the cake with the bourbon buttercream, gently spreading it out until the cake is fully covered and the frosting is even. Slice into squares, top with sliced strawberries, and enjoy! Store leftovers tightly wrapped in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also freeze leftover cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap followed by foil for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.

Nutrition

Calories: 591kcalCarbohydrates: 102gProtein: 4gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 390mgPotassium: 104mgFiber: 2gSugar: 75gVitamin A: 1079IUCalcium: 71mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Vegan, Dessert, Vegan dessert
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Vegan Buttermilk

Shanika Graham-White
This recipe is Shanika's go-to when it comes to vegan baking. Plus, it's a simple substitute for regular buttermilk!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 min
Resting Time 5 mins
Course Ingredient
Cuisine American, Vegan
Servings 1 cup
Calories 38 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk or other dairy-free milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice see tip

Instructions
 

  • In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or small glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together the milk and vinegar or lemon juice; let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or so, until curdled.
  • Use right away in any recipe that calls for buttermilk. Vegan buttermilk does not store well.

Notes

TIP: Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice have different flavors, which subtly affect the flavor of the buttermilk. Depending on the recipe, this slight difference may be apparent. You can experiment with using each one to complement the flavor of the dish you’re making. In general, I prefer apple cider vinegar for sweet preparations and lemon juice for savory. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, you can use distilled white vinegar; it will work just as well, but the flavor of the buttermilk won’t be as rich.
Recipe credit: Shanika Graham-White, author of Orchids and Sweet Tea: Plant-Forward Recipes with Jamaican Flavor & Southern Charm

Nutrition

Calories: 38kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 326mgPotassium: 11mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gCalcium: 301mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Vegan, Vegan dessert
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!
Cover of Orchids and Sweet Tea coobook

Orchids and Sweet Tea: Plant-Forward Recipes with Jamaican Flavor & Southern Charm by Shanika Graham-White (Victory Belt, 2021) is available now and includes even more vibrant, plant-forward recipes.

Cheers to satisfying your sweet tooth this weekend! All photography by Shanika Graham-White

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