August 4, 2009
Taste test: Soy dessert starter panned, praised

If you're lactose intolerant, the list of enjoyable desserts is quite short.

Cream pie? Nope. Smoothies? Not so much. Ice cream? Don't even go there.

But there's help on the grocery store shelves for the more than 50 million lactose intolerant folks nationwide. Tofu company Nasoya has launched a line of non-dairy dessert starter that claims to be the sweet treat solution for dairy dodgers.

Nasoya Silken Creations, available in dark chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors, is low calorie, lowfat, and has 3 grams of protein per serving. The dessert starter is made from whole soybeans and sweetened with cane juice, making it lactose- and gluten-free, vegan and kosher, a company news release states.

The product is available in stores and retails for about $2.50.

Nasoya sent The Bee the variety of flavors to sample, along with recipes on how to use the dessert starter. The list of recipes includes cream pies, smoothies and ice cream pies.

We tried the strawberry smoothie/dessert starter first. The smoothies were made according to the suggested recipe instructions and served to coworkers.

Some people enjoyed the sweetness, while others commented that it had too much of an aftertaste.

"Fragrant, light, air, frothy and flavorful," colleague Debbie Arrington wrote in an e-mail. "It's much lighter than smoothies made with yogurt or ice cream. Doesn't taste like soy milk or tofu."

Bee restaurant critic Blair Robertson was a bit more tart.

"Light strawberry flavor overwhelmed by sweetness and a chemically finish," he wrote.

We also tried the Silken Creations' Dark Chocolate dessert starter to make chocolate cream pie. This time, it was a blind taste test.

The soy chocolate pie was made using Nasoya's recipe on the back of the package. It was served alongside Emeril Lagasse's recipe for Chocolate Cream Pie downloaded from the Food Network (click here for the recipe).

Both pies were made using Lagasse's recipe for graham cracker crust.

The ease of making the soy pie (simply blend ingredients in a blender, pour in the crust and bake) was attractive, although the finished product was not. The filling puffed a little, then sank dejectedly into a deep, dark puddle. To mask its dismal appearance - especially in comparison to the fluffy Lagasse pie - the pie was topped with puffs of homemade sweetened whipped cream.

Willing workplace tasters sampled slices of each. The Lagasse cream pie was easily the favored dish, but the soy pie got mixed reviews.

One taster said the flavor was "more chocolatey" and several said they would serve it to dinner guests or at a family gathering.

Others characterized the filling as "sticky," "almost chalky" and had "a texture and taste like instant pudding."

Three tasters (somewhat) jokingly said they would serve it to in-laws.

"I'd serve both, but I'd let folks know which is which," one taster wrote. "Assuming I've guessed correctly, this reinforces my belief that being vegan/gluten intolerant/lactose intolerant ain't much fun."

The soy pie might also find favor, however, among folks watching their calories. If you haven't had the luxury of eating a real chocolate dessert in a while, the Silken Creations pie might just be the saving grace that keeps the pint of triple chocolate ice cream out of the shopping cart.

For more information about the Nasoya soy products, go to the company's Web site.

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