Vegan Chocolate for the Holidays!

Chocolate Recipes from Fran Costigan! Wow! I was so excited to receive Fran’s gorgeous book, Vegan Chocolate Dessert: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts! You know I love dessert, and my heart was pounding as I flipped through each and every mouth watering page, gazing at the inviting photographs and scrumptious recipes! I adored having Fran on Jazzy Vegetarian Radio today, listen here.

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Fran has been kind enough to share some delightful recipes from the book with us today – perfect for holiday treats that will impress all chocolate lovers! Thank you Fran!

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Gluten-Free Brownie Bites

Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate Dessert: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts! © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press. Photo credit: Hannah Kaminsky

You don’t need to be gluten-free to love these fudgy, deeply chocolate brownies. None of my tasters or testers could tell the difference between these and fudge brownies made with wheat. The brownies taste best to me after a half-hour in the refrigerator, but you might like them better at room temperature. Fans of dense, chewy brownies will love them straight out of the freezer. Baking the brownies in individual tins gives each piece nice chewy edges—along with built-in portion control.

Many of the gluten-free mixes contain bean flour, and if you are new to baking with gluten-free flours, you may find the “beany” smell of the batter alarming. Don’t worry: the odor bakes out. It is very important to read the label on that gluten-free mix and check whether xanthan gum is one of the ingredients. Note: If xanthan gum is not listed, add the optional quarter teaspoon of xanthan gum to the recipe. 

Makes 24 Mini Brownies 

Ingredients

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons /103grams gluten-free all-purpose baking mix

1/4 cup / 25 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 cup / 50 grams organic granulated sugar

3 1/2 tablespoons / 32 grams organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered

3/4 teaspoon / 4grams aluminum-free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (if needed, see headnote)

1/4 cup/ 60 ml  mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup  60 ml any nondairy milk

1/4 cup 60 ml Homemade Sweetened Prune Purée (recipe follows) or a 2-ounce jar of organic baby food plums or prunes

1 tablespoon / 15ml  pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional but recommended)

1/4 cup / 46 grams mini gluten-free vegan chocolate chips

Preparation

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 ̊F / 160 ̊C. Oil the cups of one 24-cup or two 12-cup mini muffin tins or use a non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. To measure the baking mix, put a flat-sided, dry 1/2-cup measuring cup on a sheet of parchment. Spoon the flour into the cup, filling it to overflowing. Level the flour by gently sweeping a knife or offset spatula across the top. Do not pack or shake the cup. Put the baking mix into the strainer. Measure the additional 2 tablespoons of baking mix in the same manner, using metal measuring spoons, and add them to the strainer. Use the parchment to pour the excess mix back into the bag.
  3. Add the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, whole cane sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the strainer. If your mix does not include xanthan or guar gum, add the 1⁄4 teaspoon now. Stir with a whisk to sift into the bowl. (If any small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, nondairy milk, prune purée, and vanilla and chocolate extracts until thoroughly combined. Immediately pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until no traces of dry ingredients are visible. Expect the batter to be thick. Stir the chocolate chips into the batter.
  5. Fill each baking cup about two-thirds full using a small (1 tablespoon) ice cream scoop or ordinary tablespoons. (If you are using spoons, scoop the batter with one spoon, and push it off the spoon into the tin with another.)
  6. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the brownies have risen and feel set when lightly tapped. Do not overbake if your brownies are still fudgy. A wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of a couple of brownies should look sticky but not wet.
  7. Set the pan on a wire rack. After 5 minutes, use a small offset spatula to lift each brownie onto the wire rack. (Warm brownies are soft, but should be easy to lift out from the tins.) Cool completely. For the best flavor, refrigerate the brownies for an hour. 

Serving

The brownies taste great at room temperature, cold, or straight from the freezer—whatever way you like them best!

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Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles

Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate Dessert: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts! (Running Press 2013). Photo credit: © Kate Lewis 

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. 

Makes about 30
(1-Inch / 2.5-Cm) Truffles

Ingredients

  • 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

Preparation

  1. Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set aside while you heat the milk.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the vanilla and olive oil and whisk from the center out only until smooth and glossy.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 

For more information including a schedule of events, visit www.francostigan.com. Follow @GoodCakesFran on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook as francostiganveganpastrychef

 Other photos from Fran's Book!

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