Eggless vs Ecstasy
It takes real guts to be a vegan - one's own guts, obviously, not the internal organs of a fellow creature.
Meat-eaters who smugly dismiss vegans as conscience-stricken crackpots would do well to consider all that these crusaders give up in the pursuit of harmlessness. Not wearing leather is one thing, but closing your lips forevermore to crème anglaise, panna cotta, soufflé, meringues, nougat and a thousand other delicious desserts takes principles of steel.
Or a clever cook who can make dairy-free cheesecake, eggless chocolate brownies and cream-free ice cream.
Enter Lois Dieterly, American baker and teacher, whose book Sinfully Vegan (Da Capo Press, R170) has just been revised and updated and made more accessible to those unfamiliar with Boston cream pies.
It's a comprehensive and comprehensible guide to sweet things made without exploiting animals, but if you have no such qualms you might prefer Desserts, by the international prince of puddings, Michel Roux (Quadrille, R270). I ate at Roux's London restaurant last year and the Proustian fragrance of lavender (in panna cotta) and the unbearable lightness of lemon (in a soufflé) still linger.
Roux is a wizard: give him a whisk, an egg and a sprinkling of other stuff and he'll create ginger crème brûlée, plum meringues, pineapple and blackberry torte, banana soufflé crêpes with chocolate sauce ... Lay on, hens.
Unlike Sinfully Vegan, Roux's Desserts has pictures to seduce the eye. These tell me why I'll never be a fully fledged vegan: I could conceivably wear plastic shoes that make my feet sweat to save the hide of a poor cow, but no way could I give up soufflé.
Penguin is giving away three copies of 'Desserts' to FOODWEEKLY readers. To enter, tell us the name of Michel Roux's brother (also a chef). Send your answer (one entry per person please), phone number and delivery address to firstname.lastname@example.org with ROUX as the subject. Entries close at noon on Tuesday, January 17.