Two of my favorite words in the English language are “vegan” and “chocolate”, so Fran Costigan already had me as a fan for her newest cookbook Vegan Chocolate before I even set eyes on it. Vegan Chocolate is a beautiful hardcover book packed with the most gorgeous, mouthwatering photos of cakes, pies, cookies and other drool-worthy chocolatey treats that I’ve ever seen. Beware – you may be tempted to eat the book’s pages.
I did a little work for Fran over the summer, so not only was I able to get a sneak peek at this masterpiece, I also got to sample some of her decadent homemade chocolate treats: brownie bites, truffles, ice cream shell, chocolate hazelnut spread, cake, ganache and more. Each one was better than the last and this chocoholic always went home happy.
As a vegan I’m often asked if it’s possible to make dessert without eggs and dairy products, and I’ve also had people tell me that they could never be vegan because they could never give up chocolate. (Chocolate is vegan by nature, but the way. It’s not vegan when candy bar manufacturers add milk and butterfat to it.) In Vegan Chocolate Fran proves that not only is it possible to make luscious vegan desserts, but they can be rich and sinfully chocolatey as well. This book is packed with recipes for chocolate cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, truffles, puddings, ice creams, drinks and more. I can guarantee that you can win over even the most die-hard carnivore with any one of them.
Fran begins the book with a list of ingredients that are helpful to have on hand for vegan baking, as well as a list of kitchen equipment essentials. She also includes a chocolate primer, with information on storing chocolate, what the different percentages mean and the different types of chocolate. Each chapter begins with Fran’s tips for successful treats, troubleshooting recommendations, and helpful information such as how much frosting is needed for a sheet cake and how to make cake crumbs for decorating. Kate Lewis’s photos of Fran’s creations are works of art, and this book should be on display on your coffee table, rather than tucked away in your bookcase.
Vegan Chocolate is a must have for any chocoholic, avid baker, and vegan foodie and it makes a great holiday gift. Be sure to check out my interview with Fran on Chic Vegan too!
Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles
- 8 ounces / 227 grams dark chocolate 70 to 72%, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 210 ml unsweetened organic almond milk coconut milk beverage or soymilk
- 2 tablespoons / 26 grams organic granulated sugar optional
- 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
- Nuts or seed 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, if using, 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.
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
Roll in the truffles in cocoa powder. Add a pinch of flaked sea salt if desired. Alternatively, coat the truffles in chopped nuts or cacao nibs, seeds, coconut.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan, (Running Press 2013). Photo credit: © Kate Lewis
Photos by Kate Lewis
You’re in luck, because Running Press sent me an extra copy of Vegan Chocolate and I had Fran autograph it, so I could give it to one lucky reader. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight EST on December 1st. U.S. residents only, please. Good luck!