Hello! Things have slowed down for a quick moment, & I am finally at a point where I have some time to catch up on the blogs. Hooray! I’ve got a lot of cool stuff to share with you & giveaway this month, so get excited! I am going to kick off this month of reviews & prizes with an awesome book review, recipe share, & giveaway of Fran Costigan’s latest masterpiece ~ “Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious & Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts.” First of all, what an exciting honor & opportunity to be asked to review this book! It was released last November & was met with rave reviews from fellow bloggers. It’s been on my wishlist forever & it’s finally in my chocoholic hands. It is pure indulgent choco-love! I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate? Especially vegan chocolate, infused with compassion.
Vegan Chocolate, by the acclaimed “Queen of Vegan Desserts,” offers recipes for an abundance of chocolate delights ~ cakes, brownies, truffles, puddings, ice creams, & more! It’s no question that these recipes will appeal to every chocoholic – vegan or otherwise! Dedicated vegans will likely agree that it can be challenging to find truly indulgent desserts that accommodate their cruelty-free diets, but this breakthrough book will delight them & unite everyone who truly, madly, deeply loves CHOCOLATE. Raise your hand if you love chocolate! You, & you, & you, & you….oh, who am I kidding, do I really need to ask?
In Vegan Chocolate, you will find better-for-you interpretations of 120 classic beloved chocolate desserts: chocolate truffles, Brooklyn Blackout Layer Cake, Eclairs, White & Dark Chocolate Cheesecake (oh, yeah!), Black-Bottom Cupcakes, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Mocha Creme Brulee, Brownie Crumble Ice Cream, & even Moon Pies made with homemade vegan grahams. There is even an entire chapter dedicated to Chocolate Beverages (adult-friendly included!). All of the recipes are plant based, some are gluten-free & some are raw, but every single one is absolutely chocolate & made with quality, easily sourced ingredients, sans dairy, eggs & refined white sugar.
New to baking & chocolate making? Never fear, the book begins with detailed information about “Ingredients, Sweeteners, Chocolate & Equipment” that will help you get the kitchen confidence you need to pursue your chocolate dreams. I won’t lie, several recipes require many steps & prep, but there are plenty of quick & easy starter recipes that even the most novice baker can tackle with ease ~ like the delicious brownies I am sharing today!
I received the my copy of the book right before I was about to host a “Cookbook Favorites” party with my awesome Vegan Ladies Cooking Club. With so many favorite cookbooks in my collection & even more favorite go-to recipes, it was really tough to settle on what to make & share for our potluck. Then Vegan Chocolate arrived in perfect timing, & I knew what I had to do. I chose the “Very Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies” because, a. they sounded absolutely amazing, & b. they seemed simple to make. As I spent my day cleaning & getting ready for the party, I didn’t want to make a dish that had me running all over town for unique ingredients, or that would keep me locked in the kitchen all day. Not only were these brownies a snap to throw together, I did not need to take a single trip to the store (yes, as every well stocked kitchen should, I always have a bag of vegan chocolate chips on hand!). They were prepped & popped in the oven in no time & I was freed up to spend the rest of the day getting ready for the party. Easy breezy!
- ½ cup plus 1 TBSP organic all-purpose flour
- ½ cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- ½ cup minus 1 TBSP granulated sugar
- ¼ cup organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
- 2 TBSP arrowroot or organic cornstarch
- 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ cup plus 2 TBSP organic neutral vegetable oil , or coconut oil**
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
- ¼ cup any non dairy milk
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp chocolate extract (optional)
- Heaping ¼ cup vegan chocolate chips or mini chunks
- ⅓ cup lightly toasted walnuts or mixed nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
- **Note: If using coconut oil as the fat, make sure the other ingredients are at room temperature, or the oil will harden into clumps during mixing.
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350° F. Oil an 8 x 8-inch square pan and then line the bottom with parchment paper. Do not oil the paper.
- Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, cocoa, granulated sugar, whole cane sugar, arrowroot or cornstarch, baking powder, and salt to the strainer and stir with a 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 oil, maple syrup, nondairy milk, vanilla, and chocolate extract, if using, in a separate medium bowl until completely combined. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix with a silicone spatula until the batter, which will be thick, is smooth. Allow the batter to rest for ten minutes.
- Stir the chocolate chips and nuts, if using, into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and spread into an even layer with a metal spatula.
- Bake for 23 minutes until the top is set and dry and the sides have pulled just slightly away from the pan.
- Remove the pan from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Immediately insert a wooden tester diagonally into the brownies. The tester will be coated with batter, but not wet. If necessary, bake for another minute.
- Cool to room temperature. The middle of the cake will sink as it cools; don’t worry. Once cold you can push the sides down to level the cake if you like. Refrigerate until very cold before cutting into squares
Refrigerate the brownies in a covered container, in layers separated by parchment, for up to three days, or freeze for up to one month. Defrost unwrapped or eat straight out of the freezer.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press. Photo credit: Kate Lewis
Without a doubt, these were a total party pleaser! Rich, decadent, & totally delicious. I cut the brownies into small squares, as recommended, & they left the plate almost before I could get my hands on one. My party-going guests couldn’t get enough of these fudgy treats. I was able to hide a few, which I enjoyed with scoop of Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream & fresh strawberries on the side. Next time I will make two batches, or more. So good!
This book is a chocolate lovers dream. From set up & cooking to storing & keeping, Queen Fran’s fool-proof recipes & detailed instructions make for perfect results everytime. With full color mouthwatering photographs by the talented Kate Lewis throughout, Vegan Chocolate is a beautiful must have for any cookbook collection, & will fill your recipe repertoire with pure chocolate love. What’s that you say? Oh you haven’t yet added it to your cookbook-shelf? Well, fret not dear ones, I am giving one away to one lucky reader (open to US residents only, sorry my lovelies).