Fran Costigan

Running Press
November 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0762445912

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Fran Costigan is an internationally recognized culinary instructor, recipe developer, and innovative vegan pastry chef, and the author of three cookbooks. A graduate of the New York Restaurant School and the Natural Gourmet Institute, Fran was a pastry chef in both traditional and vegan restaurant kitchens. Today Fran teaches her distinctive courses (including her Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive®) in her hometown of New York City at the Institute of Culinary Education and at the Natural Gourmet Institute, and at major events throughout North America and Europe. Please visit her at

In VEGAN CHOCOLATE, Fran Costigan, hailed as the “queen of vegan desserts,” offers recipes for chocolate cakes, brownies, truffles, puddings, ice creams, and more that will appeal to every chocoholic—vegan or otherwise. And while committed vegans already know it can be difficult to find truly indulgent desserts that accommodate their diets, this breakthrough book will delight them and unite everyone and anyone who madly, deeply, and truly loves chocolate.

In VEGAN CHOCOLATE, you will find better-for-you interpretations of 120 favorite chocolate desserts: flavored chocolate truffles, Brooklyn Blackout Layer Cake, Éclairs, White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake, Black-Bottom Cupcakes, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Mocha Crème Brûlée, Brownie Crumble Ice Cream, and even Moon Pies made with homemade vegan grahams. All of the recipes are plant-based, some are gluten-free and some are raw.  Every single one is absolutely chocolate and made with quality, easily sourced ingredients, without dairy, eggs, or white sugar.

From setup and baking to storing and keeping, Costigan’s detailed instructions make for perfect results every time. With full color photographs by Kate Lewis throughout, VEGAN CHOCOLATE is a beautiful must-have edition for any cookbook collection.

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Makes one (9-inch / 23-cm) three-layer cake, 12 to 14 servings

black out cake slice

My family moved from Brooklyn to Long Island when I was five years old, but I have vivid memories of my father regularly travelling back to Brooklyn to buy the famous Ebinger’s Bakery Blackout Cake we all missed eating. I still miss it today. It is etched into my memory as the most perfect chocolate cake in the entire world. And I am hardly alone in my adoration of this iconic cake, which is named after the World War II blackouts. The all-chocolate Blackout Cake was composed of three fudgy layers, each slathered with a rich and creamy chocolate pudding, frosted with the same pudding, then showered with chocolate cake crumbs made from a fourth layer. As wonderful as it sounds, it tasted even better. When I set about creating a vegan version, I knew it had to be a perfect rendition for the New Yorkers—especially Brooklynites—who grew up eating this beloved cake. I am proud to say I’ve served this cake to friends who were Ebinger fans and Brooklyn natives, and they all swear it is as good as the original.

This showstopper of a cake is easy to assemble, requiring only that creamy chocolate pudding be spread between the layers and on the sides and top. There’s no need to be fussy about smoothing the pudding, since it’s the thick covering of crumbs that creates the final “WOW!” The cake layers can be made ahead and frozen, and the pudding can be made a day ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.


Note: I think this cake tastes best with natural cocoa powder. If you cannot find natural cocoa powder where you live, you may use Dutch-process cocoa powder, just substitute 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon baking soda for the 2 teaspoons baking soda.

2 recipes Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding (below), cooled
2 cups / 414 grams organic granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups / 198 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups / 193 grams organic all-purpose flour
2⁄3 cup / 50 grams natural cocoa powder (non-alkalized; see note about using Dutch-process cocoa powder)
2 teaspoons / 10 grams baking soda
1 teaspoon / 5 grams fine sea salt
2 cups / 480 ml water, at room temperature
2⁄3 cup / 160 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil
3 tablespoons / 45 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
2 tablespoons / 30 ml apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon / 15 ml pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon / 5 ml chocolate extract (optional)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350˚F / 180˚C. Oil the sides and bottoms of two 9 x 3-inch / 23 x 7.6-cm round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment circles. Do not oil the paper.

Place a wire mesh strainer over a large bowl. Add the sugar, whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt to the strainer and stir with a wire whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. (If any small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.

Whisk the water, oil, maple syrup, vinegar, vanilla, and chocolate extract (if using) in a separate medium bowl until completely combined. Immediately pour into the dry mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter between the 2 pans. Rotate the pans to level the batter and tap them lightly on the counter to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake on the middle rack for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are set, the sides have started to pull away from the pan, and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.

Set the cakes on wire racks. After 5 minutes, run a thin knife around the sides of each cake to release the sides of the cake from the pan. Invert each cake onto a rack. Remove the pans and carefully peel off the parchment paper. It is fine to cool the cakes bottom side up.

When the cakes are completely cool, slide a 9-inch cardboard cake circle under each one. Wrap the layers with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until cold.

Assemble the Cake

Use a long serrated knife to slice each cake layer in half horizontally to form four layers. Crumble one of the layers into a food processor. Pulse the processor a few times to make medium-size crumbs, but stop before they get too fine. Pour the crumbs into a bowl.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place one of the remaining three layers, still on the cake circle, on the baking sheet. Spread with a scant cup of the pudding. Place a second cake layer on the pudding, board side up. Remove the board and spread the layer with another scant cup of pudding. Slip the board under the last layer and invert it onto the cake. Spread with another scant cup of the pudding. Refrigerate the cake and remaining pudding for 20 minutes. (It is easier to finish a cold cake.)

Cover the sides of the cake with the remaining pudding. Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake liberally with the cake crumbs, completely covering the pudding. Pat the crumbs lightly to make sure they adhere. Use all the crumbs, even the ones that fall onto the paper.


It’s best to serve this cake within 24 hours, but it will hold up for a day in the refrigerator. It is not necessary to wrap the cake.


Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding

Makes 2 1⁄4 cups / 540 ml for 3 to 4 servings

I grew up eating my mom’s chocolate pudding from a boxed mix. It was a bit lumpy and thick, with rubbery chocolate pudding skin (I have permission from my dear mother to tell this story), but it was warm and chocolate and homemade, and I liked it. On the East Coast there was only one brand worth knowing: My-T-Fine, the premium pudding. It wasn’t exactly instant, since the mix had to be cooked with milk, and somewhere along the way Mom decided cooking pudding and washing the pot was not worth the effort. We moved over to Jell-O brand—really instant pudding: put the mix in a bowl, add milk, and mix with a rotary egg beater. Still, if the bowl wasn’t deep enough (especially if I was doing the mixing) it spattered, and then there were still beaters to wash. And the finished pudding was cold! That’s why I love this recipe so much: in the same time it took my mom to make sad chocolate pudding, you can make Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding that is real chocolate pudding the way we always wanted it to be: warm, thick, and chocolaty.

Note: The cornstarch is crucial to get the right texture for this pudding. Using another starch thickener, such as my usual first choice arrowroot, would result in pudding with a soft and unpleasant texture.

1⁄2 cup / 111 grams organic granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup / 28 grams organic cornstarch (do not use arrowroot, see Note)
1⁄4 cup / 25 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups plus 6 tablespoons / 450 ml vanilla soymilk, vanilla almond milk, or vanilla coconut milk beverage
1 1⁄2 ounces / 43 grams dark chocolate (59 to 62%), chopped into small pieces
1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract

Sift the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt through a wire mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Slowly stir in the milk. Keep stirring until no trace of any of the dry ingredients is visible. The idea is to make sure the cornstarch is completely dissolved before you turn on the heat.

Cook over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken and is close to a boil. This can take as long as 12 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to get a full boil, but don’t let it be so high that the bottom scorches. As soon as the pudding starts to boil, it will thicken to pudding consistency. Immediately lower the heat and boil gently for another minute, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Gently stir in the chocolate with the silicone spatula until the chocolate is melted and incorporated.

Stir in the vanilla.

Spoon the pudding into a bowl. It will be set and ready to use in about 30 minutes at room temperature, but it can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. If you refrigerate it, cover the surface with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap adheres to the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.


Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 30 (1-inch / 2.5-cm) truffles

bittersweet truffles1F

Classic chocolate truffles are sinfully indulgent, melt-in-your-mouth, bite-sized confections made from ganache (an emulsion of chocolate and heavy cream). Truffles sometimes include butter, as well as spices, coffee or tea, liqueurs, nuts, and even fruit purées for flavor. Vegan truffles, also based on ganache, are just as luxurious, velvety smooth, and indulgent—but not sinful. A variety of nondairy milks replace the heavy cream and no butter is added. And here is the best part: After making and tasting hundreds of truffles made with nondairy milks, I am convinced they taste more intensely chocolaty than their heavy cream–based cousins.

8 ounces / 227 grams dark chocolate (70 to 72%), finely chopped
3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 210 ml unsweetened organic almond milk or soymilk
2 tablespoons / 26 grams organic granulated sugar
1⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons / 10 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil
A few pinches of flaked sea salt, for coating and serving (optional)
Dutch-process cocoa powder for coating (optional)

Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set aside while you heat the milk.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking a few times, to a low boil.

Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate all at once. Rotate the bowl so the chocolate is completely submerged. Cover the bowl with a plate and let stand undisturbed for 4 minutes.

Add the vanilla and olive oil and whisk from the center out only until smooth and glossy. (If the chocolate is not completely melted, refer to page 36 for instructions on using a water bath to melt the chocolate.)

Keep the bowl of ganache at room temperature while you test the final consistency. A properly made truffle ganache is firm enough to scoop and shape but still tastes creamy. Dip a teaspoon into the ganache, set the coated spoon on a small plate, and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. After chilling, the ganache on the spoon should be smooth and firm but still taste creamy. It is unlikely, but if the glaze is too firm, add a tablespoon of room temperature milk and repeat the test. Add a second tablespoon if needed.

Cool the ganache in a shallow dish at room temperature for 30 minutes. (The ganache sets up fastest and most evenly in a 9-inch / 23-cm glass pie pan or similar dish.) Refrigerate uncovered until the surface is no longer soft, then place a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ganache, covering it completely, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until very firm. The ganache can be refrigerated at this point for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

Make the Truffle Centers

Line a shallow container with parchment. Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. Use a spoon to scoop out 1-inch / 2.5-cm pieces of ganache and another to push the ganache off the spoon into the container. (If you prefer more uniform truffles, use a 1⁄2-tablespoon scoop.) When a half dozen or so are made, roll and press the pieces into irregularly shaped rounds. Repeat until all the ganache has been used, washing and drying your hands as needed. (If at any time the ganache becomes too soft to shape, refrigerate until cold and proceed.) Cover and refrigerate the truffle centers in layers separated by parchment paper for 15 to 25 minutes before finishing with the cocoa coating.

Finish the Truffles

Choose one of the following three methods from the chapter introduction (page 36) to suit your time or taste: roll in cocoa powder and flaked sea salt, coat in melted chocolate and cocoa powder (the hybrid method), or enrobe in tempered chocolate. Place the coated truffles in the refrigerator to set for 30 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle the truffles with a few grains of flaked sea salt, if you like, just before serving.


These recipes may be reproduced with the following credit:

Recipes from Vegan Chocolate  by Fran Costigan. (Running Press; November 2013; $30.00/Hardcover; ISBN-13; 978-0762445912).

Contact: Gigi Lamm
(215) 567-5374


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