I’m not vegan, but I’ve been on a bit of vegan kick lately. There are plenty of health, animal welfare and environmental reasons to adopt a plant-based diet. But my current interest is really more culinary than ethical. Which brought me to the unique challenges of vegan baking.
I’m seeing a whole lot of great vegan fare on restaurant menus — and often served alongside so-called standard dishes. And I’ve come across some terrific vegan cookbooks, including Robin Absell’s Big Vegan (Chronicle) and Tess Masters’ forthcoming cookbook based on her blog, The Blender Girl (Ten Speed Press). But when it comes to plant-based baking, the must have is Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts (Running Press) by Fran Costigan.
In fact, if you like to bake, this a cookbook you’ll want for your library, even if you don’t follow a vegan diet. First and foremost, Costigan is a crackerjack pastry chef, which means her techniques are meticulously thought out. Her recipes, which are clear and easy to follow, are a pleasure to make: The Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze, made with almond milk and olive oil, comes together with a gorgeous sheen. It’s a component used in several other recipes, including the spectacular Bittersweet Ganache-Glazed Chocolate Torte to Live For (my new favorite chocolate cake!), but you’ll want to grab a spoon to gobble it as is.
These days, many recipe names suffer from hyperbole — “genius,” “brilliant, “best ever” — and few live up to the hype. But Costigan’s recipes deliver on their promise to be uncompromisingly delicious. Give it a try for yourself with this rich dark-chocolate pudding.