If someone told you a chocolate dessert could be unapologetically luscious, decadent and dairy-free, would you believe her? Fran Costigan, author, baking instructor, and vegan chocolate extraordinaire said just that and I really wanted to believe her but I had my doubts because most vegan chocolate desserts don’t taste as rich and scrumptious as those made with butter, cream, and eggs. How could they? Butter, like chocolate makes nearly everything taste better. But they can, and they do in a new cookbook called Vegan Chocolate.
In Vegan Chocolate, Costigan shows the reader how to make 120 vegan chocolate desserts including truffles, pies, cupcakes, brownie, bread pudding, tartlets, frozen desserts, frosting, sauces, drinks and my personal favorite: The No-Oil Added Chocolate Torte to Live For, a moist, luscious rich chocolate cake with a Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze – a cake I could easily bake and eat every day.
Every time I bite into that cake, I have to remind myself I am not eating a chocolate cake made of flour, sugar, butter and eggs but rather a cake made primarily of flour, Dutch-process cocoa powder, coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, and sugar (albeit a 1/4 cup). And, whenever I serve the No-Oil Added Chocolate Torte to Live For, no one can believe it’s vegan and oil-free. For skeptics (of which I was one myself), I simply tell them “page 70.” You may never make a chocolate cake with butter and eggs again; it’s that good (see picture below).
There are three important aspects to a cookbook for me: simplicity, ingredients, and taste. Although I greatly admire people willing to tackle Bo Friber’s The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry, or take the “Everything Chocolate” course at the Cacao Barry Chocolate Academy in Chicago; I don’t have the ambition, or time. And yet, I want chocolate desserts that taste like a chef made them using fresh, high-quality ingredients. So, in my search for simple and delicious chocolate vegan desserts, I also demand an impressive ingredients list that doesn’t replace the butter, cream and eggs with copious amounts of oil, sugar, and strange ingredients I’ve never heard of. Quality ingredients, simple methods, and delicious flavor strikes the right balance for me which is why I love Costigan’s Vegan Chocolate. This is the cookbook that says “you can have your cake and eat it, too.”
In Vegan Chocolate, Costigan does more than provide easy recipes for delicious desserts; she also writes of the importance of ingredients (flours, sugars, extracts, fats, dried fruits, nuts, leavening agents, thickeners, cocoa versus cacao, and more) and most importantly, of chocolate: the types, how to store and how to use. Equipment is also crucial and the author provides valuable information on the best tools to use when handling chocolate, most of which are in a typical kitchen. Sources are also provided in the back of the book.
The book, Vegan Chocolate can be purchased at bookstores nationwide or on-line through www.amazon.com for $20.79 with free shipping for Prime members. To watch a 3 minute trailer of Vegan Chocolate on youtube, click here.