We're just as pro-nutrition as the next food enthusiast. Quinoa is our side of choice these days over mashed potatoes. We can't live without kale in our salads, and slip flaxseed into our morning antioxidant smoothies as often as possible. But when we want to eat cake, we want to eat cake. The dessert course is not where we look to cut back. Hence our skepticism of the vegan, organic, wheat-free, no refined sugar Vanilla Coconut cake from Golden Mean Café in Santa Monica.
Vegan baking is certainly nothing new, but unless you actually avoid eggs and cheese (which was breakfast this morning so, no) we always thought, why bother? Man up and eat a real dessert. However, a recent accidental purchase of vegan chocolate chip cookies from Trader Joe's, which turned out to be delicious and somewhat lower calorie than your typical Toll House, made us rethink shunning the category entirely.
Hence our pilgrimage to the Golden Mean in pursuit of more vegan baked goods.
The café opened in April 2010 and specializes in vegan, organic cuisine. Owners Aaron Glassman and fiancée Anahita Tehrani tell us many of their customers are carnivores, originally dragged in by some meat-averse comrade, who continue to come back for veggie versions of their favorite comfort foods they feel less slothful after eating.
For us, comfort comes in the form of sweetness, so we put their coconut cake to the test. First thing, we were pleased to note that despite the lack of refined sugar, this cake was very sweet. Almost too sweet, some would say, though that's not a complaint we frequently employ. Golden Mean uses Sucanat, agave and coconut sugar in their baked goods, and they're doing their job. Second, even without real eggs and milk, dryness was not an issue in the least. A combination of egg replacer and coconut milk is used instead of the regular animal products, the latter of which provides massive moistness, enhances the coconut flavor and adds an additional “robustness” factor. In other words, the cake is quite filling, which can be a good thing should you choose to make it your lunch. (Not that we know anything about that.)
As for calorie count, Glassman was coy. He doesn't disclose an exact number (in fact he may not even know it) but insists it's lower than your average slice. Even if it weren't, it wouldn't matter. We're after great-tasting food, and this cake more than satisfies.