I have to say the reviewing cookbooks is one of my favorite things about being a blogger. I’m constantly blown away by the genius, creativity and beauty that I find in each book. Most of these cookbooks are really like an art form.
I knew that Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan was going to be good, but I was literally blown away by the quality of the recipes, the gorgeous photos by Kate Lewis and even the descriptive text in this cookbook. Plus it’s a 304 page hardcover, like a beautiful chocolate encyclopedia! The quality of the book makes it feel like it will last forever and take all my kitchen smudges, smears and drippings that end up on my most well loved cookbooks in good form. I’m not kidding that as a self-confessed chocoholic I literally want to make all the recipes in the book.
The book is so good that I couldn’t stop looking at it yesterday when it arrived, so I substituted it for my five year old’s normal nighttime story routine. He was just as entranced as I was, and recommend we make everything, plus add strawberries. I had to agree.
But perhaps even better than all of this, Fran’s recipes are mostly unrefined, use the highest quality ingredients and have recommendations for gluten-free baking throughout the book. There are even oil-free recipes in the book! Surely this book has something for everyone except perhaps deranged people who don’t like chocolate or the poor souls that have an allergy to it.
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 type of frozen dessert. 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 during mixing.
Makes One 8 X 8-Inch Square Pan
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon organic all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot or organic cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
- 1/4 cup any nondairy milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
- Heaping 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips or mini chunks
- 1/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts or mixed nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350° F. Oil an 8 x 8-inch square pan and then line the bottom with parchment paper. Do not oil the paper.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake for 23 minutes until the top is set and dry and the sides have pulled just slightly away from the pan.
- 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 for another minute.
- 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.
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.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press. Photo credit: Kate Lewis
Visit Fran Costigan’s site here.
Visit Photographer Kate Lewis at Le Chou Sauvage here.
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