The Sentinel’s vegan editor, Elizabeth Usher, offers a round up of tips and tricks for local vegan treats this Halloween.
I was always jealous of children in US movies and TV series who got to go trick-or-treating. Growing up in Sydney, it felt each year like we were collectively missing out on a fun and exciting communal experience. Who would turn down the chance to dress up, meet up with friends and go out with the express purpose of collecting ‘candy’? (Or – as I was more used to saying – sweets or lollies?)
Now an adult, I’m quite relieved that there’s no expectation to adorn the front of the house with Halloween-specific decorations that would probably be both expensive and also decidedly environmentally unfriendly. Plus, there’s the potential issue of fellow trick-or-treaters choosing inappropriate or problematic Halloween ‘costumes’.
On some level, though, I can’t deny that there’s still a bit of a personal yearning for an annual Halloween experience. I’ve even written a few Halloween songs, including the quirky ‘There’s No Place for a Uke on Halloween’ – listen out for my solo tambourine highlight! And I love the creativity that vegan bakers can bring to the table for this specific occasion.
So, if you’re wanting to add a little Halloween flair to your Sunday fare, here’s a quick round up of some local spooky snacks that require varying levels of kitchen skills, from ‘none whatsoever’ to ‘make it all yourself’!
Fresh + Frosted is hosting a special pop-up event at the Vegan Grocery Store in Glebe on Saturday, 30 October from 10am to 4pm – although supplies are likely to run out quickly, and you’ll need to get there early to snag their limited one-off Halloween packs that will be sold on the day, starting from $14.
If you want to guarantee a non-Halloween-style sweet treat, you can also pre-order from their pop-up menu, which includes cupcake duos, a brownie triple pack and a gluten-free box – noting that pre-orders need to be collected between 10am and 2pm.
Nicole Wright of Fresh + Frosted tells me: “My favourite part of Halloween is the wonderful creativity that comes alive! Whether it be the smoky scene on the neighbour’s lawn, the scary costumes the kids dress up in, or in my case, the fun food we create, it’s such a fun time to be our most creative selves. I think now especially, it’s a great time to let loose … and have a lot of fun!”
2. Some Assembly Required
I’ve been a fan of the delicious vegan gingerbread from Gingerbread Folk for well over a decade and always buy a selection of their Christmas packs as gifts each December. Until now, I’d never thought about using their products for Halloween, but Gingerbread Folk’s Director, Karen Sharman, shares the tip that their chocolate gingerbread house kit can be used as the basis for a ‘haunted house’ or ‘cobweb house’ Halloween centrepiece!
You can see an example on their YouTube channel:
The chocolate gingerbread house kit comes with everything you need to recreate this look – including their special egg-free royal icing mix, plus a foil baseboard and even a piping bag.
Instructions are included but if you want to watch a house being assembled, their YouTube channel also includes a video of Sharman and her daughter constructing and decorating a regular (i.e. not chocolate-flavoured) gingerbread house. Plus, at the end, Sharman highlights that their example houses are “decorated with plant-based confectioneries … Gingerbread Folk is a vegan company.”
3. DIY all the way
Vegan pastry chef Sara Kidd runs the Vegan Cake Decorating, All Types of Baking & Resources Facebook group, with over 21 thousand members from around the globe! She’s living across the ditch these days, but has fond memories of the vegan scene in Sydney and admits, “The baking scene in Auckland is just getting started, compared to Sydney where it was fairly established when I was living there 4 years ago.”
Kidd has an incredible combination of imagination and baking skills, and her website is an incredible resource for vegan bakers. As well as her free recipes, that include detailed instructions and trouble-shooting tips, you can find low-cost workshops such as her Halloween-suitable vegan pumpkin buns with spiced pumpkin custard.
If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get started on some fancy home-baked Halloween treats, here are two of Kidd’s free recipes to whet your appetite: Sarah Kidd’s easy vegan Halloween cake; Sarah Kidd’s gluten-free Halloween cupcakes.
As vegans know, the real-life scary story is what happens day after day in animal agriculture and abattoirs. Let’s avoid the anguished screams that can be hidden behind a meal. Thank you for choosing vegan treats and taking steps towards making it a Happy Halloween for all!
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