Vegan Desserts Event Gives Students Hands-On Fun

Being a student at Kalamazoo College means discovering new opportunities to get involved everywhere you look on campus, even where you eat.

vegan desserts

Baker Sarah Ross (right) talks with student Lezlie Lull as she points toward examples of the vegan banana cake and vegan/gluten-free black bean brownies students created May 10 during the vegan desserts event at Hicks Student Center.

Kalamazoo College Dining Services on Thursday offered students hands-on fun with a vegan desserts class taught by Sarah Ross, a Dining Services baker with 20 years of experience in the food-preparation industry.

Although Ross admitted she sometimes indulges in Greek yogurt or certain cheeses, she strives to maintain a vegan diet, occasionally finding baking or cooking ideas through family recipes and on the Internet. From there it’s a matter of increasing the ingredients in the right balances to find many of the dishes she serves to students.

Lezlie Lull, Rigel Bobadilla, Miranda Flores-Tirado and Shannon Carley participated in the class, learning to bake vegan banana cake and vegan/gluten-free black bean brownies from scratch. The desserts are easy enough to concoct at any off-campus apartment or on campus with the right supplies and tools. The students stirred, mixed, poured, folded, whisked, blended and processed until their delectable creations were complete.

vegan desserts

Students used ingredients such as black beans, salt, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla to prepare vegan desserts.

Dining Services regularly offers engaging activities such as Random Acts of Yum, which provides students with free treats such as root beer floats; special Chef’s Table dinners featuring locally sourced and sustainable foods; and an emergency coffee truck during finals week. This, however, was an opportunity to get hands on.

“We’ve done contests and events in the past, which have been fun, but not much that has involved teaching skills,” Dining Services Marketing Coordinator Tabitha Skornia said, adding more opportunities like the vegan desserts class are in the works. The next class will be a cheese class May 24. Plus, Dining Services is looking for suggestions on what else it might offer.

“What students like changes over time,” Skornia said. “We’d like to keep these varied, so students can keep walking away with different skills.”

vegan desserts

Miranda Flores-Tirado prepares ingredients for vegan/gluten-free black bean brownies during the vegan desserts event May 10 at Hicks Student Center.

vegan desserts

Shannon Carley blends ingredients for vegan/gluten-free black bean brownies during the vegan desserts event.

If you have ideas for food-inspired, hands-on opportunities, Dining Services wants to hear from you. Skornia is reachable by email at In the meantime, feel free to try the vegan banana cake or the vegan/gluten-free black bean brownies yourself with the recipes below.

Vegan Banana Cake

3 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup oil
3 cup banana puree
2 tsp vanilla extract
* Can also use applesauce, mango puree and pear puree.

  • Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk sugar, oil, fruit puree and vanilla.
  • Fold dry ingredients into the wet ingredients gently.
  • Pour into desired pan and bake at 325 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean.

Vegan/Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

3 cups black beans drained and rinsed
4 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 cup quick oats
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup maple syrup or agave
½ cup sugar
½ cup oil
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp baking powder

* Optional: 1 cup vegan chocolate chips

  • Blend all ingredients except chips in a food processor until very smooth.
  • Fold in chips and pour into a greased 8-by-8 pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes and allow to cool completely.
  • Can set in the fridge to help firm them up.
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Andy Brown

About Andy Brown

As the Director of News and Social Media, Andy shares the stories that distinguish Kalamazoo College through social media, the Web and the news media. Contact him at