A little while ago we received Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts by Fran Costigan. Over the years, we've gotten a number of cookbooks to review. Normally, I prepare 3-8 recipes from a cookbook before writing a review, and as I flipped through the pages of this beautiful cookbook, each recipe sounded better than the previous one. But many of the recipes I wanted to try seemed more complicated than I was up to at that time, and so I became paralyzed. I wanted to do justice to this book. So, to get my toes wet, I made the Chocolat Chaud (hot chocolate) which was surprizingly easy and delicious.
Still not up to the idea of making a complicated recipe, I made the Mix-In-The-Pan Chocolate Cake. Even without a frosting it was moist and delicious, and something I can throw together anytime, as I usually have most of the necessary ingredients on hand.
This is more than just a cookbook, it is truly a work of art and could be proudly displayed on a coffee table! The real jewels in this book are in the Showstoppers chapter. Lane and I drool over the images in this cookbook, and I've joked with friends that I could gain 10 pounds just flipping through the recipes. And this is where I've stalled. I really want to eat the Chocolate Chery Miroir Cake, the Sachertorte, the Chocolate Hazelnut Six-Layer Cake, and the Opera Cake, but since these recipes all require planning and attention, I find myself reluctant to make them. I have been cooking for years and I know if my mind and heart aren't in it, then no matter how delicious the recipe, the end result won't be worth eating. So for the time being, I'll stick with the Mix-In-The-Pan Chocolate Cake.
Then again, it's been hot here, so maybe I'll motivate myself to make one of the ice cream recipes towards the end of the book.
Here are a few editorial reviews of Vegan Chocolate:
“Regarded as the authority on cruelty-free chocolate anything and everything, Costigan’s baking book (bible?), with its myriad tips and tricks, is not to be missed."
—The Daily Meal
“Delve in, and Vegan Chocolate becomes a kind of cake itself, prepared to perfection and dense with flavor. Packed with vibrant photos by Kate Lewis, the book itself appeals sensually in addition to its valuable info. Costigan has finally gotten the top-of-the-line packaging her work has always deserved…. This new, sumptuous book is an appropriate summation of more than a decade of sweet-tooth expertise.”
—Philadelphia Daily News
“When those of us of the grains, beans, and veggies persuasion want to indulge in a sweet treat, it has to be something spectacular—and preferably chocolate! There's no better guide to the world of delectable chocolate desserts than Fran Costigan; that they happen to be egg- and dairy-free is icing on the vegan cake. A feast for all the senses, Vegan Chocolate sets the bar at a new level for home cooks as well as chefs.”
—Nava Atlas, author of Wild About Greens and Vegan Holiday Kitchen
"Fran's infectious passion for chocolate radiates from these voluptuous yet amazingly approachable recipes. From breakfast smoothies to show-stopping desserts and even nightcaps, Fran finds a way to sneak a little chocolate bliss into every corner of your day. Warning: these hedonistic recipes aren't for the faint of heart! (I admit it. I actually licked page 92.)"
–Dynise Balcavage, author of Pies and Tarts with Heart and The Urban Vegan
“I am an ardent proponent of clean, unadulterated flavors. Years ago I've eliminated milk and cream from my chocolate cakes to achieve a truer flavor statement. From a culinary standpoint, Fran Costigan demonstrates the same desire for purity. With scientifically-based explanations and the refined palate of a trained pastry-chef, she teaches both amateur and professional cooks how to make amazing desserts without any animal sources. Not only are the recipes safe for the vegan lifestyle and allergy sufferers, they stand on their own as ambrosial desserts.”
—Ron Ben-Israel, owner of Ron Ben-Israel Cakes and host of Sweet Genius
“Fran Costigan's Vegan Chocolate is the holy grail of sweet, plant-based treats! This cookbook is destined to be a treasured baking classic for all kitchens.”
—Kris Carr, New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Sexy Kitchen
“Fran is a pioneer of the vegan baking world. Her recipes have been extensively tested to perfection. As a fellow chocoholic, I am thrilled that Fran is sharing her extensive collection of decadent chocolaty creations with the world. Any vegan will feel like a kid in a candy store flipping through the mouthwatering pages of this book. Bravo Fran!”
—Chloe Coscarelli, cookbook author and winner of Food Network's Cupcakes Wars
“I’m still drooling thinking about the chocolate ‘plant-strong’ wedding cake Fran made for our wedding.”
—Rip Esselstyn, best-selling author, My Beef with Meat; The Engine 2 Diet
“Are you swooning yet? You will be when you dig in to the luscious recipes in this book: they're downright delectable and simply the best chocolate treats you'll ever experience. The most astounding thing is that not one of these recipes has eggs or dairy in them, so they're not only crazy-delicious, but they're good for the soul!”
—Kathy Freston, New York Times bestselling author of The Lean and Veganist
“Fran Costigan absolutely delights with her book Vegan Chocolate. This expansive cookbook—filled with drop dead gorgeous photos and decadent recipes—will inspire chocolate lovers everywhere to get into the kitchen and create something extra-special.”
—Allyson Kramer, author of Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats
"As always, Fran Costigan's recipes are beguiling and tempting to make (and even more so, to eat!) even to one who is not a vegan pastry cook. I'm ever impressed with what Fran has been able to do without the usual ingredients, like butter and eggs, and have it come off so well. These are recipes based on skill and passion for good chocolate desserts, the best combination possible.”
—Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
“Anyone who loves chocolate desserts, whether they follow a vegan diet or just want to try something new and different, will be thrilled with the results of Fran Costigan’s recipes. Fran is a natural baker in many senses and her desserts sing out real flavor and quality with every bite. And I love the fact that some recipes are gluten free too – now everyone can enjoy chocolate cakes, pies, tarts, ices, and confections!”
—Nick Malgieri, author of Bake and Nick Malgieri’s Bread
“A treasure… Chef Fran Costigan raises the vegan chocolate bar to such great heights that everyone will be shown a luscious path to confectionary nirvana. Chef Fran's talent and wizardry are gifts to be shared. We cherish and savor all her decadent creations.”
—Bart Potenza and Joy Pierson, owners of Candle Café, Candle 79, and Candle West
“Fran Costigan’s stunning new book is a game changer. Vegan Chocolate is a delicious book, filled with clearly written user-friendly recipes, inventive techniques, and practical information. Nothing is missing from these sumptuous chocolate desserts except the dairy, eggs, refined sugar, and cholesterol. With an Opera Cake and a Bûche de Noel, truffles, ice creams, simple cookies, and more, transitioning over to vegan eating has never been more tempting. This book has earned a permanent place in my kitchen!”
—Tal Ronnen, New York Times Bestselling author of The Conscious Kitchen
“Take a chunk of dark chocolate, a spoonful of sugar, and put it in the pan with Fran, and what you get is a collection of divinely inspired, sophisticated desserts that make me ponder only one thing: which one to make first? Will it be the classic Opera Cake, Mocha Crème Brûlée, or one of the ridiculously tempting truffles? Vegan dessert books may abound, but only Fran Costigan reveals the true meaning of chocolate: it may seem rich, indulgent, and even sinful, but as I dip my finger into a bowl of Chocolate Panna Cotta, I realize it is ever so necessary.”
—Miyoko Schinner, author of Artisan Vegan Cheese
"This book is much more than just a cookbook and definitely a must-have in any kitchen. Whether or not you are a vegan, cooking newbie or just love chocolate, you’ll find it comprehensible and stunning."
Here are a few snippets from Amazon reviews, so you can read what other people are saying about this book:
- Just received my copy last night and all I can say is "WOW" I took Fran's Bootcamp Vegan Baking course at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York, and Fran goes above and beyond to make sure all her recipes are just over the top delicious, eye appealing and wanting you asking for more. I dove right in this morning and made the low fat hot chocolate..so decadent and delicious..noone would every guess it's low fat. I plan on spending a few hours with a cup of tea and getting lost in the world of vegan chocolate. The recipes and pictures will have you spending many hours turning your kitchen into a chocolate shop. Nothing wrong with a little chocolate now and again, and with this book in hand you will become a master.
- I will say that I was a tester for this book so I have tried a fair amount of these recipes and had the pleasure of making them with the guidance of Fran. She has made this book such an incredible masterpiece. I knew it would be great but it far exceeded my expectations. Fran has such a vast amount of experience and knowledge with all things pastry and a love for chocolate and it shows. The book is brimming with information to help you succeed and each recipe is clearly written and explained so you will have no problems. The ingredients are easy to find and there are lots of ideas for substitutions whether they be for allergies or lifestyle (oil free) or just taste preference. Fran has used wholesome ingredients and yet the desserts always taste rich and indulgent. The book itself is beautiful, I feel bad putting it on the bookshelf. There are lots of full color photographs to show you what you aiming for and just to make you drool!
- The fact that I find myself writing a review of a cookbook is pretty humorous. I've been a musician all of my life and am quite comfortable writing reviews of music and arts-related projects that I think people need to be aware of, but a cookbook? That's something my awesome chef of a wife is much better qualified to do. On the other hand, it's always a joy to share something you love with other folks, and I LOVE this cookbook.
- I bought this cookbook to make a healthy, vegan chocolate cake for my husband's birthday. I made the Blackout cake and it was wonderful. The author does an excellent job of explaining "tricks" to bake a successful cake. I discovered that making her vegan cake was actually easier than making a "normal" cake with eggs. Sometimes chocolate cake doesn't taste like chocolate, but the blackout cake had a rich flavor. He absolutely loved it, and so did the rest of the family. I am looking forward to trying the vegan truffles, and trying some of her other cakes. The pictures look delicious!
- I confess... I would have dismissed this jewel if it wasn't because my dear friend bought it for me. This book has made me a baker. There is no better resource I have found on unadulterated, pure vegan desserts. Comprehensive for the ambitious home chef, yet simple enough for anyone to follow. I collect kitchen books, yet there are very few that I treasure, and this one has become one of them.