Photo by Kyle Fick

E ating vegan in Gainesville is as easy as (vegan) apple pie. It was a different story ten years ago, when vegan options were sparse and most recipes lacked flair. That’s all changed, due in part to Karma Cream, an all-in-one vegan ice cream parlor, coffee shop, and bakery on the corner of University and SW 6th Street.

Illustrations by Katherine McGuinness

Fresh air breezes into the bakery through the usually open front door and natural light brightens mint-green walls that are decorated with framed paintings of butterflies, cows and skulls. But the real treat is the pastry display case, an olio of desserts from fudge brownies and rich tiramisu-frosted cupcakes to shortbread, sweet caramel apple babkas and donuts oozing with strawberry jelly and glazed with earl-grey icing. The line up changes daily, but there’s one thing you can count on — it’s all organic and vegan. If you haven’t gathered, that’s Karma Cream’s trademark.

Co-owner Kyle Fick opened Karma Cream in 2009 as an organic ice-cream shop but soon expanded its menu to include more eco-friendly, vegan options. Most restaurants buy products from one vendor, but from the beginning Karma Cream cherry-picked its ingredients from organic, vegan and eco-friendly distributors across the country to ensure that Karma Cream has a carefully tailored
menu. “We wanted something for everybody,” Fick said.

The shop evolved in 2011, when Fick brought on Emily Schwartz as the head baker. Schwartz, a life-long vegetarian with a sweet-tooth, had frequented Karma Cream in its early days when she moved to Gainesville for college. “Next thing I know I was starting to run the show,” she said.

Initially, Schwartz drew recipe inspiration from all over — the internet, other bakeries, travelling and the staff at the shop. Challenges laid in substituting animal fats and byproducts for plant-based ingredients that mimicked the same taste and textures, particularly when it came to tricky yeast-based desserts like puff pastries and croissants. But now recipe creation is instinctual as she strives to create flavors you can’t find anywhere else in Gainesville and wouldn’t think to make yourself. “There is that pressure where every day I’m like okay, ‘what’s next,’” she said. “It’s always, ‘What’s next?’”

While she pushes Karma Cream to maintain a premiere selection of vegan baked goods, Schwartz is excited it’s become to easy to be vegan in Gainesville. She’s optimistic it will only get even easier. “I’m just really glad there’s more and more options out there,” she said. “Like, even if it’s not us, if its other people. Join the gang. The more the merrier.” 

Karma Cream

607 W University Ave 352-505-6566 @Karma_Cream
Weekdays: 8 A.M. – 11 P.M.
Weekends: 10 A.M. – 11 P.M.

• • •

Almond Raspberry Tea Cookie

(gluten & soy free)
  • 16 ounces almond meal
  • 1 cup coconut, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon Canola oil

    Raspberry preservative:
  • 1 cup agave
  • 3 tablespoons Canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
  • raspberry preserves 

  1. Mix dry ingredients together.
  2. Add wet ingredients except preserves and mix by hand to combine.
  3. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour until firm.
  4. Roll out dough to about 3/4 of a centimeter thick and cut out with round cookie cutter.
  5. Place on cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
  6. Imprint divot into each cookie with thumb. Add dollop of preserves.
  7. Bake 17-18 min at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Optional decoration: Sift tops of cookies with powdered sugar. •