First and foremost, "Vegan Chocolate - Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts" by Fran Costigan is amazingly all about chocolate. Vegan. From the Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Pudding (above - we'll get to that later), to the Opera Cake below and anything in between, be it a drink, a frozen dessert or a candy, Fran has got it covered.
When I first received the book, I was stunned (though shouldn't have been) by the photography by the very talented Kate Lewis, who does complete justice to each of Fran's recipes that is lucky enough to have been photographed - and plenty there are, in this book. This is a cookbook of chocolates that Julia Child would be proud of!
A small sampling of the offerings are:
~a complete chapter on Truffles!
~Brownie Pudding Cakelettes (page 79)
~Brooklyn Blackout Cake (page 94)
~White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake (page 97)
~Intensely Chocolate Trifle (page 110)
~Buche de Noel (page 116)
~Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Cookies (page 144)
~Raspberry Chocolate Silk Tart (page 164)
~Chocolate Panna Cotta (page 176)
~Chocolate Jello Shots (!!) (page 193)
~Chocolate Espresso Gelato (page 198)
~Chocolate Dulce de Leche (page 234)
~Hot Chocolate Mexican-Style (page 245)
~Chocolate White Russin (another, yes!) (page 258)
.... you get the picture. If you want to make anything chocolate related, this is the book you want.
Some of the recipes are easy as pie (such as the above Bread Pudding), while some are showstoppers, such as the Opera Cake below.
Beyond the scope of the recipes and the subject itself (chocolate!), Fran writes effortlessly and the recipes are clear and precise. For the more intricate recipes, such as the cake above, she even provides a game plan that makes a traditionally complex dessert seem like a walk in the park, complete with a time table and how long each component of the recipes will keep. This makes holiday baking and dessert making a breeze!
And that is just one chapter in the book! The other chapters contain recipes that range from super easy and quick to intermediate. This book is not just for the novice baker/cook, but also for someone who wants to put something extra special on the table - a truly versatile and long-reaching cookbook.
I chose to make the Bread Budding because my children had been asking me to make one, as they had seen many non-vegan renditions on TV shows and were wondering what all the hype was. Then this book fell in my lap, including a bread pudding recipe. May all our desires be answered so easily!
The recipe was completely delicious and addictive! I really am not one for sweets, but I kept going back for another bite of this. I couldn't resist! Make it yourself and see!
Who wants this book?
Without further delay, here is the recipe by Fran Costigan and the photo by Kate Lewis of that scrumptious Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Pudding. It may be summer time, but one bite and you'll see that heating up the oven is all worth it.
|Photo by Kate Lewis|
Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Pudding
The humble origin of bread pudding dates back to thirteenth century England when a “poor man’s pudding” was assembled from stale leftover bread, bits of fruit, and spices moistened with sweetened water. Contrast that lean and thrifty pudding with contemporary recipes often served in expensive restaurants, which are made with egg-rich breads, such as brioche or challah, baked in custards made with three or more eggs, heavy cream or whole milk, and sweetened with sugar. There’s a lot to like about the technique and texture of these modern bread puddings, but clearly a recipe renovation is needed. In my version, cashew cream, coconut milk, and starch make the creamy custard, and a healthy dose of chocolate provides the wow factor. I use protein-rich, easy-to-digest sprouted bread, but any bread you like will do. Serve the pudding warm right out of the baking dish, or make it ahead and warm before serving. If you want to spice up brunch with Ms. or Mr. Sweetie, try the heart-shaped variation at the end.
Makes 8 Servings
• 6 slices sprouted wheat bread, or another bread
• 1/2 cup raw whole cashews, rinsed and soaked in boiling water to cover for 1 hour
• 1/2 of a 13.5 to 14-ounce can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk, well-stirred (do not use light)
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
• 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (Grade B or dark amber) or agave syrup
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or organic cornstarch
• 1 ripe medium-size banana
• 3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (any percentage), chopped into chunks
1. Cut the bread into roughly 1-inch chunks. Put the chunks into a large bowl and set aside until needed.
2. Drain the cashews and put them into a blender. Add the coconut milk, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend, starting on low and increasing the speed to high for 1 minute or until the liquid is perfectly smooth. (If you have a high-speed blender, this will take about 1 minute. If using a standard blender, blend the ingredients in 2 or 3 batches until perfectly smooth.)
3. Add the tapioca or cornstarch to the blender and blend for 1 minute. Pour the liquid into a 2-cup measure and add enough water or nondairy milk to equal 1 1/3 cups.
Pour the liquid over the bread and set aside to soak about 15 minutes, stirring gently with a silicone spatula a couple of times, until the bread is soft and has absorbed most of the liquid.
5. While the bread soaks, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375˚F. Oil the sides and bottom of an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.
6. Spoon the bread mixture into the prepared pan. Coarsely chop the banana and mix into the soaked bread. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks over the top. Press some of the chocolate into the bread mixture.
7. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 350˚F. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly puffed and firm to the touch. Let cool slightly before serving.
Serve warm or refrigerate until cold. Reheat in the oven.
The bread pudding is best eaten the same day but may be refrigerated in a covered container overnight.
Bread Pudding Hearts: After the pudding has baked and cooled, refrigerate it until firm. About 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, remove the pudding from the refrigerator and cut small heart-shaped portions, or one large heart to share. Place on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Set the table while the pudding hearts heat in the oven back to melty, chocolaty goodness, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press. Photo credit: Kate Lewis