If you eat eggs or dairy, a doughnut missing those things often tastes like a pastry don't. Until you've bitten into one of the Caffeinated Kitchen's 35 baked renditions, found in more than half a dozen Long Beach (and several Orange County) cafes. Not leaden, and certainly not gummy or mealy, the doughnuts blur common perceptions of vegan pastries — perhaps not following a plant-based diet herself has helped owner Jen Hackler pinpoint what can be missing in many of them. With her standards set to a wider customer palate, she tweaked her recipe, which calls for ingredients such as coconut oil and applesauce, to make a lighter cake. Since turning her blog into a business in 2013, her clientele has grown so much that she's been considering a brick-and-mortar spot to keep up with the demand. When you try the popular churro or chocolate ganache with sea salt, you know why. The most telling validation comes in the lack of awareness that these treats are even vegan — Hackler notes that they're not often labeled as such in her clients' cafes.
Credit: Jen Hackler