Chef Fran Costigan

NW Chocolate Fest Cake Recipe

Deep, dark, moist chocolate cake: Vegan

The Chocolate Torte to Live For

My trip to the Pacific Northwest started in Portland, OR where I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Portland VegFest, as described in my previous blog post. I’m writing now from Seattle and it’s all about chocolate, my favorite bean.  Well, chocolate and some Field Roast Grain Meat Company love. David Lee, the founder of the company very kindly offered me his new test kitchen so that I could make the 300 or so tastings for my demos at the October 3rd and 4th Northwest Chocolate Fest. With Marti Miller Hall, aka TofuMom, and Lacey, at Field Roast, the Ganache Chocolate Cakes to Live For and Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles were shaped.

In other news: Don’t forget to enter Choosing Raw’s giveaway of Vegan Chocolate on her blog. You’ll find a review of Vegan Chocolate and the recipe for Warm Chocolate Cashew Pudding too.

Following is the recipe for the cake I made and sampled at the Chocolate Fest, from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts (Running Press 2013)

Bittersweet Ganache Glazed Chocolate Torte to Live For

  •  Makes One (9-Inch / 23-Cm) Torte, 8 to 10 Servings
  • 1⁄2 cup / 70 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1⁄2 cup / 64 grams organic all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 31 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 cup / 50 grams organic granulated sugar, finely ground in a blender
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 grams aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 grams baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon / 2.5 grams fine sea salt
  • 1⁄4 cup / 60 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil
  • 1⁄2 cup / 120 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
  • 3 ⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 210 ml any nondairy milk
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons / 7.5 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1 recipe Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F / 180°C. Oil the sides and bottom of the cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment circle or paper cut to fit. Do not oil the paper.

Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, 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, chocolate extract (if using), and vinegar in a separate medium bowl until completely combined. Immediately pour into the dry mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into pan. Rotate the pan to level the batter and tap it lightly on the counter to get rid of some of the air bubbles.

Bake the cake on the center rack for 28 to 32 minutes, or until the top of the cake is set, the sides have started to pull away from the pan, and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.

Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Run a thin spatula around the sides of the cake to release the sides of the cake from the pan. Invert the layer onto the rack, remove the pan, and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Invert again, top side up on the rack, to cool completely. When the cake is completely cool, slide a cardboard circle or a flat plate underneath. Cover the cake tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold before glazing.

 Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze Makes 2 cups/ 480ml

  • 8 ounces / 227 grams dark chocolate (70 to 72%), finely chopped
  • 1 1⁄4 cups / 300 ml organic almond milk, soymilk or coconut milk beverage (more as needed to adjust consistency)
  • 2 tablespoons / 18 grams organic granulated sugar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 1⁄4 teaspoons / 6.25 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons / 10 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil

Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set aside while you heat the milk.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking a few times to a low boil.

Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the hot milk over the chopped chocolate all at once. Rotate the bowl so the chocolate is completely submerged. Cover the bowl with a plate and let stand undisturbed for 4 minutes.

Add the vanilla and olive oil (if using) and whisk from the center out only until smooth and glossy.

Keep the bowl of ganache at room temperature while you test the final consistency. Dip a teaspoon into the ganache, set the coated spoon on a small plate, and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. After chilling, the ganache on the spoon should be smooth and firm, but should still taste creamy. It is unlikely, but if the glaze is too firm, add a tablespoon of room temperature milk, and repeat the test. Add a second tablespoon if needed.

Pass the ganache through a strainer into a bowl. Whisking slowly will speed the process.

Allow the ganache to thicken at room temperature for 15 to 25 minutes, or until it will coat a spoon thickly with minimal dripping, but remain pourable. Stir a few times from the outside into the center before glazing.

Keeping: The glaze can be refrigerated in a tightly closed container for up to five days and frozen for up to one month. The glaze hardens when it is cold and will need to be reheated. To reheat, spoon the glaze into a heatproof bowl that fits over a saucepan of barely simmering water. When about two-thirds of the glaze is melted, stir gently until it is smooth. Adjust the consistency as needed by stirring warm nondairy milk into the glaze a little at a time.



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Cacao, Matcha, and Kale Smoothie


I’m in Seattle and drinking more coffee than my usual but also eating plenty greens. I started my day today at my cousin’s house with this smoothie, before I realized it was National Kale Day, and without taking a photo of this very satisfying breakfast. Here is the recipe. I hope you enjoy.

Kale is the champion of Team Cruciferous—a medalist in every Healthy Veggie Olympic contest. Blend that kale with cancer-fighting, energy-boosting, calorie-burning, and detoxifying matcha tea; flavanol-rich raw cacao; and the good fat in avocado, and your day is made. Or, you can choose to drink this smoothie just because it tastes really good.

Matcha newbies, note that the taste is strong—a little goes a long way. Start with the smaller amount. I like the slightly astringent taste of matcha, but if you don’t, use less. You can use any kind of cocoa powder you like – it will be delicious, but it won’t be a ‘raw’ if you use Dutch-process.

Note: If using a high-speed blender, the kale leaf can go in whole and the smoothie will be creamy in minutes. If using a standard blender, tear the kale into small pieces before adding it to the blender and process longer.


Cacao, Matcha, and Kale Smoothie


Makes 2 servings, or 1 very large one



  • 1 1/4 cups / 300 ml any nondairy milk
  • 1 large kale leaf, stem removed
  • 1/4 medium avocado (about 1/4 cup / 40 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons / 15 grams raw cacao powder (or any cocoa powder)
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml agave syrup or coconut sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons / 3 grams matcha powder, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 cup / 140 grams ice cubes



Put all the ingredients in the blender in the order listed, except the ice, and blend until smooth and creamy. Start the blender on low and increase to high speed. Add the ice cubes a few at a time and blend until frothy. Pour into glasses and enjoy.


From Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan.

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Portland VegFest and my PNW Tour!

FluerI woke up much too early today, Friday, Sept 26th in Portland OR, but I’m just so excited. Yesterday I loved prepping my early Good Day Oregon  segment: Ganache 101  at the Sweetpea Baking Company , while the bakers and cake decorators – who were incredibly kind about sharing their space – were busy doing their own work ahead of the early opening.


Sweetpea Baking Co. Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake by Sweetpea Baking Co. Portland, OR.

The kitchen door connects right to The Herbivore Clothing Company, where owner Michelle was hosting the show. Christy Morgan, The Blissful Chef who had already done her segment (as had Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ! but she sliced and toasted the baguettes I needed to make for my Chocolate Crostini. Joe, our GDO host, looked great in this Herbivore hoodie, and I’m still smiling about his loving the vegan chocolate desserts! He went gaga for the Chocolate Crostini and Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles, both of which I am making at my Sunday #PDXVegFest demo at 2pm!


At Herbivore with Joe for PDX VEGFEST

At Herbivore with Joe for PDX VEGFEST

Good Day Oregeon Host Joe in an Herbivore hoodie asking, “Don’t you need dairy to make chocolate desserts?” My answer,  “Nope!” He swooned tasting the Chocolate Crostini and so did the camera man! The proof is in the tasting.


Michelle S., Christy Morgan, Lindsey, Joe and me

Joe, , Christy Morgan, Lindsey, me and Michelle S. at Herbivore after the chocolate segment!

Today, I’m baking Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Grant Butler, food and entertainment writer for the Oregonian. He’ll be posting that recipe, and the Pumpkin Bread from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally (Book Publishing Co. 2006) in his column in time for Thanksgiving, and our baking video too. Later in the afternoon, I am meeting two volunteers from Portland VegFest who are going to roll a lot of truffles and more in preparation for my dessert demos at #PDXVegfest. Sat 3:30pm in the Pear Room: Triple Coconut and Chocolate, Fruit Parfaits (a new recipe!) and Sunday 2pm in the Pear Room, I’m definitely all about working with chocolate. If you are anywhere the PNW this weekend, come to #PDXVegFest at the Oregon Convention Center. You don’t need to be vegan! This is a family friendly event with low cost admission, lots of food to taste, chef demos, health talks (Joel Fuhrman, MD), Fitness, #PlantBuilt team and Christy Morgon, Ellen Jaffe Jones and Alan Roetinger… oh, go to the website and see. I’ll want to sign your copy of Vegan Chocolate. Find me at Herbivore and Book Publishing Company too. (Find me also shopping, eating, listening, and smiling ear to ear. This is the 10th anniversary of the great Portland Veg Fest sponsored by NW Veg.


Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips, Cranberries and Pecans

Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips, Cranberries and Pecans

Finally, breakfast today at the vegan B&B, my home for a few days, The Cherokee Rose Inn. The gracious owner Sandy cooked a Southern (vegan) Breakfast of biscuits, black eye peas, polenta and greens, with cashew gravy which I certainly enjoyed. The other guests, Sarah and James drove down from Calgury for VegFest. I learned, among other things that they are huge fans of Our Hen House podcasts. Hey Mariann and Jasmine, we are talking about you!


vegan B&B in Portland, Breakfast

Am I happy, excited, over the moon here in Portland? Yes I am!! Anyone who is anywhere near PCN, get yourselves to the Portland VegFest, this weekend, Saturday and Sunday September 27 and 28th. You won’t be sorry.

Cheers from Portland. I’m leaving for Seattle and Theo Chocolate, Field Roast Grain Company, NW Chocolate Show on Monday. I hope you’ll come along with me.

Happy holidays too to my Jewish friends and family.
L’Shana Tova.

With gratitude and happiness.


P.S. Have you been to VegFests? Do you have a favorite one, or one that’s on your wish list?


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