Since I first started coming to Charleston, one of the continuing questions in my mind is where to find good vegan desserts in the city. There is Black Bean Co. on King Street that reliably carries vegan and gluten free cookies and little loaves of banana bread and such that are baked in house – reliable, but maybe a bit on the boring side. And then there was Diggity (later Nana’s) Doughnuts, that while a bit far to north, carried some fine varieties of vegan doughnuts; but sadly, they have now closed.
My spirits on this subject have lifted recently, as I have discovered that two other dessert cafes on King Street also carry some very fine vegan desserts. First, I found out that the location of Cupcake DownSouth on the west side of King between Warren and Radcliffe Streets sells a vegan variety of cupcake on Wednesdays, Fridays and now Saturdays as well.
The flavors of their vegan cupcake change from day to day. My first time trying them it was lemon cake and icing – not a bad one, but the next one I had, chocolate cake with salted caramel icing, was several notches higher in quality. I have also had chocolate/chocolate and white chocolate/raspberry, also quite good.
Even more recently, just a couple weeks ago in fact, I was excited to learn that Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts, on on the west side of King between Radcliffe and Morris Streets, always carries one vegan variety every day. On Saturdays, I believe, they do two varieties. The trick is to keep in mind their hours – most days of the week they open early and close at 3 in the afternoon. The first time I stopped by to try one of their doughnuts, I arrived at 3:02 and found them closed!
Today I finally broke the cycle and went there just shortly after noon. If you check their Facebook page, every morning they post a photo of their chalkboard menu so you can find out what varieties of doughnuts they are making that day. Today the vegan option was a gingerbread with tangy cranberry icing.
Make no mistake, this is a cake doughnut, of a different texture from your garden variety Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme. But I loved it – I found the cake moist and not heavy, and the icing was melt in your mouth smooth, tangy as I said, and sweet but not so much as to make your teeth ache.
I am sure I could be very happy alternating between these two dessert shops to make my sweet tooth happy. But then of course I would never get to do any baking of my own, which would make me rather sad. So I will be contented making Cupcake DownSouth and Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts a regular place to stop, but keep my visits far enough apart as to keep it a special treat. I am not suggesting you do the same – when you are in Charleston, have as many cupcakes and doughnuts as you like, and tell them the Dairy Free Traveler sent you!