Who doesn’t love a great vegan chocolate dessert? Today we bring you your chocolate fix in the form of a recipe from Fran Costigan, Queen of Vegan Desserts. This one might even be too good to share.
I’m very proud of my new cookbook, Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts (Running Press). I am also thrilled that Vegan Chocolate, which took two years, 150 pounds of chocolate and 100 pounds of cocoa to produce, has been endorsed by many of the luminaries of the vegan world (Kris Carr, Kathy Freston, Tal Ronnen, and Nava Atlas to name just a few), as well as non-vegan celebrity pastry chefs, Ron Ben Israel (Food Network’s Sweet Genius), and award-winning cookbook author, Nick Malgeri too. All agree that this is a book for all chocolate lovers. The stunning photos by Kate Lewis are irresistible––actually, vegan cookbook author Linda Long told me she had to move the book out of her line of sight lest she stop working to make the cover cake, a deeply chocolate Sacher Torte every day!
The information-dense first chapter: Ingredients, Sweeteners, Chocolates, and Equipment, is for the beginners and experienced bakers who like details, but the book is organized so that you can go to any chapter and get started asap. I promise you, making unapologetically luscious and decadent chocolate desserts that just happen to be vegan, is easy and goof-proof when you follow a few rules. Each of the 10 recipe chapters starts with Fran’s Rulebook for Making Successful: Truffles, Cakes, Showstoppers, Cookies & Bars & Little Bites, Pies & Tarts, Creams, Puddings & Gels, Frozen Desserts-yes that’s Ice Creams, Confections, Beverages and Master Recipes. Also included is Troubleshooting and Suggested Game Plans for component desserts. Most of the desserts can be made well ahead and refrigerated or frozen too.
Here’s the recipe for the cupcakes served at my Candle Café West book signing.
Black Bottom Cupcakes
Was this long-time favorite, slightly odd-looking icing-free cupcake the result of a mistake? “Oops! I dropped cheesecake batter in the batter in the Devil’s food cupcake batter!” The chocolate-flecked vegan cream cheese bakes into chocolate cupcakes for a treat as yummy, if not yummier, than the dairy version. Since the cake was already dairy- and egg-free in many of the original recipes (a.k.a. accidently vegan), and nondairy cream cheese spread is easily found in natural food stores and larger supermarkets, creating an actual recipe to follow was literally and figuratively “a piece of cake.” Chocolate chips add flavor to the filling, and chia gel replaces the egg. The resulting bites of heaven fairly beg for a glass of ice- cold nondairy milk or a freshly made espresso (the latter is my choice).
Notes: Keep the “cream cheese” in the refrigerator until ready to use, but do not freeze it. When making the regular-sized cupcakes, the tins will be almost completely full. If you are making minis, go for a maximum of two-thirds full and no more than 11⁄2 teaspoons of filling.
Do not substitute Dutch-process (alkalized cocoa powder for the non-alkalized cocoa in the recipe.
Makes 12 Standard-Size Cupcakes Or 24 Minis
1 1 ⁄2 teaspoons / 3 grams ground chia seeds
1 1 ⁄2 tablespoons / 22.5 ml warm water
8 ounces / 227 grams nondairy cream cheese spread, very cold
9 tablespoons / 56 grams organic confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons / 10 ml pure vanilla extract
2 ounces / 85 grams chocolate chips
1 cup / 129 grams organic all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup / 70 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
3 ⁄4 cup / 159 grams organic granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup / 50 grams organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 25 grams natural cocoa powder (non-alkalized)
1 teaspoon / 5 grams baking soda
1 ⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup / 240 ml any nondairy milk
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 90 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil
1 tablespoon / 15 ml apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon / 5 ml chocolate extract (optional)
MAKE THE FILLING
Mix the chia and water and set aside for a couple of minutes. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined. Repeat twice, 5 minutes apart. The chia gel can be made a day ahead and refrigerated in a covered container. Mix before using.
Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add the chia gel and mix on medium for another 30 seconds until incorporated. Stir the chocolate chips into the filling. Refrigerate in a covered container while you make the cupcakes.
MAKE THE CUPCAKES
Position a rack on the rung just above the center of the oven and preheat to 350 ̊F / 180 ̊C. Lightly oil the top only of a 12-cup cupcake tin to make any bake-overs easier to clean, and line with paper liners that are slightly higher than the cups.
Put a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, granulated sugar, whole cane sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt to the strainer. Stir with whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl and whisk to aerate. (If any very small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.
In a separate small bowl, mix the nondairy milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and chocolate extract (if using) until thoroughly mixed. Immediately pour into the dry ingredients. Whisk hard until the batter is smooth.
Fill the cups close to three-quarters full with batter.
Spoon or scoop 3 tablespoons of the filling—but not more—into the center of each cake. The cups will be filled almost to the top. That’s okay.
Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until the edges of the cakes are firm when lightly tapped and the filling is set. Set the tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes. The filling will collapse into the cakes while they cool. Remove the cupcakes from the tin, and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
Serving: I like to serve the cupcakes slightly chilled for the best flavor, but some of my testers liked the cakes best at room temperature. You’ll just have to make two batches and try them each way to decide!
Keeping: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.
Recipe reprinted with permission from VEGAN CHOCOLATE © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.
Chef, cooking teacher, and author, Fran Costigan, the “Queen of Vegan Desserts,” uses her impressive culinary education, affiliations and experience to create vegan desserts that are healthy, organic and singularly satisfying. Featured in a variety of publications, on television and radio, Fran’s highly anticipated new cookbook, Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious Decadent and Dairy Free, Running Press is available now. Her previous cookbook, More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally, which offers a complete course in sumptuous vegan sweets, is the basis of her Vegan Baking Boot Camp®. Fran is proud to be an advisory board member of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.
Find Fran (and her blog and schedule) at www.francostigan.com and follow Fran Costigan Vegan Pastry Chef on Facebook, and @goodcakesfran on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.