When I first spoke to Il Vegano founder Drew LiVigni this past September as he was launching his business, he explained that “It’s all based on traditional cookies and trying to get as close to the flavor and consistency that I remember.” The traditional in this case: Italian. His memories? New York bakeries as a kid. And the vegan part? That’s his spin, but I can tell you I can’t tell them apart from regular non-vegan treats. They’re high-tea elegant, beautifully laced with subtle aromatics and seasonings, and texturally spot-on.
Which is to say excellent all around. I grab small packages of the four varieties currently available (for a fair few bucks each, or around $10/bag larger quantity) at Bread & Butter Neighborhood Market, though LiVigni plans to offer some direct sales soon via his Facebook page. The Sicilian-style Biscotti Regina (smallest and most abundant per package) are known by their sesame seed coating, but here typical eggs and cream are out with coconut milk, flax seed and plant-based butter subbing in, plus anise extract for a licorice-strong, personalized touch.
Almond biscotti with orange peel are softer and more delicate than many of the tooth-crown-crackers out there (killer with coffee like all Il Vegano’s products), containing a few near-whole almonds and chickpea brine (aquafaba) as egg white substitute, plus mild citrus finish. Both the orange ricotta cookie and Anginetti bear sweeter frosting coatings, with brighter, zingier orange and lemon essences, respectively. The ricotta in this case is cashew-based, and the cookies are bigger and saucer-shaped, with a delightful crumb.
The Anginetti hold a braided shape, and pea protein (in all the cookies in some ratio) helps gift a rich density to counter the glazing, which melts with a granular feel over the tongue, finishing with a lemon pop. Again: excellent.