Following a plant-based diet, whether for health or ethics, doesn’t automatically exclude dessert. Everybody likes cookies, and in fact there are baked goods proudly wearing VEGAN stickers everywhere you look. But the truth is, a lot of self-identified vegan products just aren’t very good.
Maybe if a trained chef who’d been vegetarian since childhood got a French lit degree, then spent several years working for “Iron Chef” Cat Cora… oh wait. That’s Sugar Beak Bakery, where owner Ashley Fiocco’s sweet tooth—“sugar beak” in French—inspires her completely plant-based line of baked goods. With only a love of cheese standing between her and veganism, the flavor and construction of Fiocco’s products transcend a vegan niche. (She also makes some gluten-free treats.) Her bestseller is the salted caramel sweet potato chocolate tartlet ($4.50), in which she somehow transmogrifies the humble sweet potato into what looks and tastes like luscious caramel. Fiocco’s cookies, $4 each, are pretty incredible, too. The peanut-butter-enriched sweet ‘n’ salty after-school cookie is something special, as is the trail-mix cookie, which is full of all sorts of things, including oats, hemp, chia, flax, raw nuts, and dried fruit—the perfect breakfast.
Someday I think we’ll see a Sugar Beak Bakery shop. For now, Fiocco crafts the goods in her Irvine kitchen under the auspices of the California Homemade Food Act, which allows home food crafters to sell their wares. You can order Sugar Beak items online for pick-up or delivery, or find them at the Thursday farmers market in downtown Santa Ana, Jan’s Health Bar, Thrive Juice Lab, the twice-yearly Patchwork show, and through Zucchini Xpress CSA delivery.