Chef Fran Costigan

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

This recipe is dedicated to my beloved Grandma Ida, who baked with Crisco and love along with plenty of eggs and white sugar, but I am sure she’d love what I did here. My daughter Tracy is making a batch of these cookies for our family seder this week.

Passover, like all of my family’s gatherings, was food-centric, and dessert was no exception. After dinner, we always had two kinds of Passover macaroons on the table: a bakery version and a canned version. The ones from the bakery were certainly better than the canned, but I admit to favoring the latter as a child. Today, I make a delicious, preservative-free version of that canned cookie that appears on virtually every Seder table. But it wasn’t easy. Replacing the egg whites found in every macaroon recipe proved a tough puzzle to solve. Commercial egg replacer and starches made a cookie that tasted powdery with a texture not even close to what I was after. One afternoon, wondering what to do with the bowl of white chia gel I was whisking, I thought, “Egg white!” In short order, I had made a cookie too good to eat only on Passover, and one that you certainly don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy.

Note: My original recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder but leavening is not ok, strictly speaking, for Passover. It can be deleted with no ill effects.

1 1/2 teaspoons / 4.5 grams whole white chia seeds yield the 1 tablespoon ground seeds needed for the recipe, but that is too small a quantity to grind. Grind at least 3 tablespoons / 30 grams and store the ground chia in a small covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Makes 24 to 26
 small macaroons


  • 7 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons / 99 grams organic granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon / 10 grams ground white chia seeds
3 tablespoons / 45 ml water, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup / 33 grams coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 52 grams toasted shredded coconut, divided
  • 3 tablespoons / 45 ml vanilla coconut milk beverage
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces / 85 grams dark chocolate (62 to 72%), melted and kept warm in a water bath, for dipping


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F / 190°C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.
  2. Lightly grind 7 tablespoons / 91 grams of the sugar in a blender and set aside until needed.
  3. Put the ground chia in a small bowl. Pour the water over the chia. Set aside for 5 minutes undisturbed and then whisk hard. The chia gel will be lumpy at first but will smooth out as it hydrates. Whisk a few more times while you sift the dry ingredients. (You can make the gel ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Whisk vigorously before using.)
  4. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the coconut flour and the 7 tablespoons of ground sugar 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.) Stir 1/2 cup / 40 grams of the shredded coconut into the dry ingredients.
  5. Whisk in the chia gel. Use a silicone spatula or your hands, if necessary, to get the gel thoroughly mixed into the flour mixture. Add the coconut milk beverage and the vanilla extract and mix with a silicone spatula, pushing hard on the dough until it holds together when squeezed in your fingers.
  6. Form the macaroons. Use a 1-teaspoon measure to scoop out rounded teaspoons of dough. Squeeze the dough hard in the palm of your hand so that it sticks together, and then roll into balls.
  7. Coat the macaroons. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons / 12 grams of coconut and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Roll the dough balls in the coconut-sugar mixture. Press each ball on the baking sheet to flatten the bottoms.
  8. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350°F / 180°C. Bake for 14 minutes until the bottom of the macaroons are lightly browned.
  9. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack. After 3 to 4 minutes, lift the macaroons off the baking sheet onto the rack. Cool the macaroons to room temperature and then refrigerate until cold before dipping the bottoms.
  10. Dip the bottoms of the cold macaroons in the melted chocolate. Set the coated macaroons on an acetate sheet or parchment-lined tray and refrigerate until the chocolate is set.


Freeze the macaroons in an airtight container for up to one month. These little cookies defrost fast.


Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan, (Running Press 2013). Photo credit: © Hannah Kaminsky


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Dukkah-Spiced Chocolate–Covered Matzoh for Passover

Dukkah-Spiced Chocolate–Covered MatzohMy aunt Arlene, cousin Sheila’s mom (Sheila Bender of, was our family’s gourmet cook, and she made a fine French Passover meal one year. It was not a hit. I tried changing up the ritual Charoset a few times but my family was disappointed. They wanted the Ashkenazi version, which is primarily apples, walnuts, cinnamon bound with a little sweet Passover wine or grape juice. They did not want the date-based Sephardic charoset on our table. Thinking chocolate could give a newish traditional dish a chance, I created a Dukkah-Spiced Chocolate-Covered Matzoh. It was a hit. You need not be Jewish or to celebrate Passover to enjoy this recipe. I can see Dukka-Spice Dusted Chocolate Covered Crackers on the Easter table. Why not?

Note: This is my favorite version of dukkah, but if you have one you are happy with, of course, use it. Also: this stuff disappears fast! Instead of making more in the middle of the festivities, do what I did: Put out a tray of matzoh, a bowl of ganache, a few spreaders, a spoon, and a bowl of dukkah. It’s a little messier, but good!

Dukkah-Spiced Chocolate Covered Matzoh

Makes 4 pieces of matzoh


Dukkah Topping

  • 1 ounce / 30 grams skinned hazelnuts or raw unpeeled almonds
  • 1 ounce / 30 grams shelled pistachios, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup / 35 grams natural sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon / 5 grams coriander seeds
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons / 4 grams anise seeds
1 teaspoon / 2 grams cumin seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon / 2 grams black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 3 grams flaked sea salt


  • 4 pieces matzoh (each about a 6 x 7-inch / 15 x 17-cm rectangle)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons / 22.5 ml extra-virgin olive oil, at room temperature
  • 1 cup / 240 ml Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze (recipe follows) warmed in a water bath until spreadable


Make The Dukkah Spice Mix

  1. Toast the hazelnuts (or almonds) and pistachios in a dry skillet over low heat for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan so the nuts do not burn. Set aside in a bowl to cool.
  2. Toast the sesame seeds, coriander seeds, anise seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns in the same skillet until fragrant, about 2 minutes, shaking the skillet frequently. Pour into a bowl and let cool completely.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in an electric spice or nut grinder. Grind until the mixture looks like flaked sea salt, not too fine and not too coarse. (If you want to be authentic and use a mortar and pestle you will likely have to do this in 2 or 3 batches.)
  4. Mix the salt into the dukkah and pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Make The Chocolate-Coated Matzoh

  1. Line up the matzoh on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  2. Stir the olive oil into the softened ganache. It is fine if the oil is not thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Spread 4 tablespoons / 60 ml ganache on each piece of matzoh. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons (about 26 grams), more or less to taste, of the dukkah. Refrigerate briefly to set the chocolate.


Serve the prepared matzoh at once or refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened for a crunchier (and less messy) treat. Break or cut each coated matzoh into 12 pieces and arrange on a platter.


Keep any leftover pieces in a covered container at room temperature for two to three days.


Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze

It will take longer to read this recipe than to make it, but its success is all about the quality and taste of the chocolate and following the details in the recipe. As long as you stay within the percentages listed, any premium quality chocolate you enjoy eating is the one to use. The important part is to chop the chocolate very fine and to strain the hot milk. Allowing the chocolate to melt into the milk for the full 4 minutes is not optional. And stir only until the chocolate and milk are emulsified—that is, glossy and smooth. Over-mixing may turn your silken ganache gritty. If the chocolate has not completely melted after the ganache is mixed, bring the water in the saucepan on the stove to a simmer and turn off the heat. Place the bowl of ganache on the saucepan for a few minutes, then stir very gently until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth.

Makes 2 Cups / 480 Ml


  • 8 ounces / 227 grams dark chocolate (70 to 72%), finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups / 300 ml organic almond milk or soymilk (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 (optional but recommended for sheen)



  1. Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set aside while you heat the milk.
  1. Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking a few times to a low boil.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the vanilla and olive oil (if using) and whisk from the center out only until smooth and glossy. (If the chocolate is not completely melted, refer to the Sidebar on page 28 for instructions on using a water bath to melt the chocolate.)
  4. 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.
  1. Pass the ganache through a strainer into a bowl. Whisking slowly will speed the process.
  2. 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.


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.


Recipes reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan, (Running Press 2013). Photo credit: © Hannah Kaminsky


I love comments.  What are your thoughts on changing up traditional holiday menus, whatever that means to your family? Do you have one dish you especially love?

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Ricki Heller’s As You Like It Kale Salad and a Giveaway

Living Candida-Free

I knew of award-winning blogger Ricki Heller by reputation only before she came to New York City last year. I’ve admired her expertise in the areas of gluten-free and candida diets, so when she came to my home town, I was to share a meal with her and other vegan culinary friends at Candle Café West. We spoke about many things, including her then yet to be launched newest cookbook, Living Candida-Free. After reading my review copy, I knew this was a book I wanted to promote. I’ve got some information and a recipe here for you as well as a chance to win a copy of Living Candida-Free.

Many health issues can be linked to the more than seventy pounds of sugar that the average American consumes annually—from obesity and bad skin to diabetes and cancer. But one of the most difficult sugar-related disorders to diagnose can cause many serious complications ranging from chronic fatigue and pain, digestion disorders, and weight gain to brain fog, depression, and allergies: an overgrowth of candida. Candida, a yeast that naturally occurs in and on the human body, is usually harmless; however, once it starts feeding off extra sugar in the body and multiplying rapidly, it can cause a person to become seriously ill. And because the symptoms caused are so wide-ranging, many doctors have a hard time diagnosing it—leading many health professionals to call it a hidden epidemic.

In Living Candida Free: 100 Recipes and a 3-Phase Program to Restore Your Health and Vitality, registered holistic nutritionist Ricki Heller, with functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama, outlines a health plan and diet designed to help readers combat the candida overgrowth that’s making them sick. Heller walks readers through the four principles of the plan: restoring good digestion, detoxifying the body, repopulating the gut with healthful bacteria, and coping with any other imbalances, including anxiety and stress, that the condition has caused.

Heller outlines a three-phase vegan, sugar-free, and gluten-free Anti-Candida Diet (ACD) designed to starve the yeast while nurturing the rest of the body, and includes a Yeast Assessment quiz for readers to gauge their needs. Instead of relying on fixed timelines that ignore the body’s signals and progress, the phases of the ACD are flexible and are cued by how readers are progressing.

A guidebook for those needing to cut refined sugar out of their diets, Living Candida Free arms readers with everything they need to retake control of their lives—and their health.


As You Like It Kale Salad


Kale is one of my favorite superfoods, chock-full of antioxidants that fight cancer, anti-inflammatory compounds, a slew of vitamins and minerals, and a good amount of fiber. And best of all, it tastes great! This salad is also infinitely adaptable, depending on which combination of veggies you choose from each category. I generally use whatever I’ve got in the refrigerator that day, and the result is always delicious. As long as you include the base, a few crunchy veggies, and some fresh herbs and nuts or seeds, the rest can be omitted if desired and you’ll still end up with a yummy salad.

Makes 6 to 8 side salad servings or 3 to 5 main course servings.

The Base

  • 1 bunch (6 to 9 leaves) curly kale or Swiss chard, or a combination
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 cup (240 ml) mixed baby salad greens, bite-size romaine lettuce, bite-size butter lettuce, arugula (rocket), or a combination

Crunchy Veggies

  • 1 medium-size carrot, grated
  • 1 medium-size beet, grated
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • Fresh Herbs
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) of at least 2 types of coarsely chopped fresh herbs (my favorites are dill, basil, mint, flat-leaf parsley, and cilantro)

Nuts and/or Seeds

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) total of any combination of fresh nut pieces and seeds (my favorite combinations are walnuts or pecans and hemp seeds; walnuts or pecans and sunflower seeds; almonds and pumpkin seeds)

The Crucifers

2 cups (480 ml) total of any of the following (or any combination):

  • Finely shredded green or red cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Fruit (if allowed; otherwise, omit):
  • 1 apple or pear, cored and diced; or 1 cup (240 ml) fresh blueberries or strawberries; or 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced

Other Add-Ins (all of these are optional)

  • 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
  • 4 to 6 radishes, sliced into half-moons
  • 1/3 cucumber, sliced into half-moons
  • Handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Handful of sprouts (my favorites are sunflower, pea, or alfalfa sprouts)
  • 1 recipe Classic Oil and Lemon Dressing (see recipe)


Make the base: Soften the kale: Remove the kale leaves from the stems; discard the stems, then wash and dry the leaves. Stack the leaves, roll tightly (jelly-roll style), then cut thinly crosswise to create long, thin shreds. Chop the shreds into smaller pieces and place in a large salad bowl.

Sprinkle the kale with salt and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil. Using clean hands, “massage” the kale, squeezing it and squishing it between your fingers, until it begins to darken and soften a bit (this breaks down the fibers in the leaves and renders them more easily digestible—but they will still retain a nice crunch). If using chard, wash and chop it using the same method and add to the bowl (it doesn’t need to be massaged).

Assemble the salad: Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl. Drizzle with the dressing, toss, and serve. Will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days (and will still remain crunchy!).

Note: For Stage 1 of the diet, omit the fruit. It will still taste yummy!


Classic Oil and Lemon Dressing

This deceptively simple and flavorful dressing is a perfect accompaniment to any crisp, leafy green salad, or wherever you would have used a classic balsamic dressing. I also love it as a dip for freshly steamed artichokes.

Makes about 1/3 cup (80 ML) dressing


  • 2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, preferably organic
  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 to 5 drops plain pure liquid stevia, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) dry mustard
  • Fine sea salt

Whisk all the ingredients together until emulsified; pour over the salad greens and toss. Store leftover dressing in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Recipes from Living Candida-Free by Ricki Heller. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2015.


I have a copy of Living Candida-Free for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions below to enter. US and Canadian residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on March 22nd. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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When: April 10, 2015 – April 12, 2015 all-day

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