These Classic Mexican Desserts Are Ideal for the Holidays (and Just Happen to Be Vegan)
Gluten-free, plant-based, and just sweet enough, desserts from Edgar Castrejón’s new vegan Mexican cookbook, Provecho: 100 Vegan Mexican Recipes to Celebrate Culture and Community, are sure to please.
Before he made a name for himself as a vegan author, food stylist, and photographer, Edgar Castrejón grew up in Oakland eating savory meat stews, seafood ceviche, and chicken dishes, immersed in the flavors and culinary traditions of his Mexican-American family. But in college he adopted a fully vegan diet for both philosophical and health reasons. As he writes in his excellent new cookbook, Provecho: 100 Vegan Mexican Recipes to Celebrate Culture and Community: “That’s when I really set out to veganize the foods I grew up eating. However, I didn’t want to call foods out for being vegan. I just wanted to make tasty food that happens to be plant-based.” And so began a culinary journey to “create vegan versions of generations-old recipes, without sacrificing the authentic Mexican flavors that my family expected and held dear.”
Provecho is a prime example of how to subtly tweak tried-and-true Mexican favorites into satisfying plant-based dishes that together read like a litany of Latin American deliciousness: from hearty tofu and jackfruit posole, in both red and green forms, to nutty punchy pipián that can ennoble a simple bowl of Spanish rice, to saffron-tinged masa-and-flour Colombian empanadas stuffed with Yukon Gold potatoes, studded with garlic and topped with bright pico de gallo.
These dishes and others preserve the flavors of their foundational recipes but adopt ingredients not typically found in the Mexican larder. That includes jackfruit, the tropical fruit you can braise until it breaks down and can be shredded into tender strands like a slow-cooked chicken or pulled pork; vegan cheese with all the sharp taste and creaminess of cheddar; and aquafaba, chickpea broth that whips up fluffy like egg whites. Castrejón brings all the richness of meat and dairy in a full plant-based fashion.
While the savory recipes sing, the book also includes a chapter devoted to inspiring vegan desserts, from no-bake vegan cheesecake to apple empanadas. As we head into the holidays, we’ve excerpted a few sweet treats for you to bake and gift or keep on hand to celebrate with family and friends—no dairy or gluten required.