Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vegan Chocolate
Review and Giveaway

Vegan Chocolate—the two sweetest words in the English language and the title of pastry chef extraordinaire Fran Costigan's latest book. Within the pages of this gorgeous, museum-quality, hardbound edition you'll find nothing less than the fulfillment of all of your chocolate dreams.

Do you dream of decadently delicious chocolate creams, puddings, truffles, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, or frozen desserts? With recipes like Intensely Chocolate Trifle, Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Chocolate Coconut Whipped Cream, and White Chocolate Mousse, Chef Fran has got you covered! I flipped when I read the recipes for chocolate eclairs, blackout cake, and gelato! (Now that's what I'm talking about!) And with so many enormously helpful tips on techniques, sweeteners, and yes—choosing the perfect chocolate for your recipe, you'll feel like Fran is standing right beside you in the kitchen.

I received my copy of Vegan Chocolate just in time for Passover and couldn't wait to make Fran's Dukkah-Spiced Chocolate-Covered Matzoh. What's dukkah? It's a fun-sounding word and a lovely Middle Eastern blend of nuts and spices. The result: savory, salty, spicy, and sweet flavors all dancing together deliciously atop a chocolate ganache-covered matzoh!

My husband thinks that the Almost Instant Chocolate Pudding tastes just like the Jello Instant Pudding he loved eating as a kid. I think it tastes like creamy brownies. He said that's the same thing. You'll say "WOW!" when you taste this dreamy creamy treat.

With almost a dozen tantalizing recipes for chocolate truffles in Vegan Chocolate, the challenge was deciding which one to make first. Since I adore chai, I honed in on Chai-Spiced Truffles. These melt-in-your-mouth cocoa confections were heavenly.

If you want to treat yourself or your favorite chocolate lover to a spectacular gift, indulge all of your chocolate fantasies, or just tease yourself silly with the exquisite photos in this book, don't wait another second to get a copy of Vegan Chocolate! Until your copy arrives, here's a little nibble of what you'll find inside. The recipe for Very Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies from Vegan Chocolate ©2013 by Fran Costigan is reprinted with the kind permission of Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. And if you're feeling lucky (and even if you're not—someone is going to win, and it could be you!), scroll down to the bottom of the post, leave a comment below, and then follow the Rafflecopter prompts to enter to win a copy!* Your comment is the only mandatory entry requirement, and you'll earn 10 easy entries with just one little comment! To earn additional entries, you can also follow any or all of the other steps. Good luck!

Photo credit: Kate Lewis
Very Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies

You’ll get plenty of “brownie points” for these soft, fudgy, and rich chocolate treats studded with chocolate chunks or chips. Walnuts add crunch and cut the sweetness, but if you like a brownie unencumbered by nuts, just say no to this option. No matter what you prefer, these brownies will stay fudgy when frozen, making them the perfect cake for ice cream sandwiches or any of the frozen desserts in chapter 8. Make a Blow Them Away Brownie Sundae or just dip into some of the Thick Fudge Sauce. Just watch out: These brownies are not low fat or low sugar—a small square should satisfy. Note: If using coconut oil as the fat, make sure the other ingredients are at room temperature, or the oil will harden into clumps.

Makes one 8 x 8-inch / 20 x 20-cm square pan

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon/73 grams organic all-purpose flour
½ cup/70 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup/58 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup minus 1 tablespoon/98 grams organic granulated sugar
¼ cup/38 grams organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
2 tablespoons/12 grams arrowroot or organic cornstarch (14 grams)
1 teaspoon/5 grams aluminum-free baking powder
½ teaspoon/2.5 grams fine sea salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons / 90 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or an organic neutral vegetable oil
½ cup/20 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
¼ cup/60 ml any nondairy milk
2 teaspoons/10 ml pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
Heaping ½cup/85 grams vegan chocolate chips or mini chunks
1/3 cup/43 grams lightly toasted walnuts or mixed nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350˚F / 180˚C. Oil an 8 x 8-inch / 20 x 20-cm square pan and then line the bottom with parchment paper. Do not oil the paper.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Bake for 23 minutes until the top is set and dry and the sides have pulled just slightly away from the pan.
6. 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 another minute.
7. 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.

Keeping: 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.

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