Chef Fran Costigan

Vegan Chocolate Espresso Gelato

Chocolate Espresso Gelato from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan. Photo ©Kate LewisGelato, which is Italy’s version of ice cream, contains less sugar and significantly less fat than ice cream’s typical 10 to 16%. You can understand why I  “heard” the gelato recipes in my head asking me to take them over to the vegan side. For my first vegan gelato, I picked one of my favorite flavor combinations—dark chocolate and espresso—and used coconut milk for the fat. (You won’t be able to detect any coconut taste.) A rich, just-sweet-enough gelato is the result. If you avoid coffee, use decaf espresso powder. I’ve been using Starbucks Via Italian Roast as the espresso ingredient in my deserts. It’s handy in the single packs and the flavor is singularly fine and strong without being bitter, but any espresso, regular or decaf will work just fine.
Try this as gelato of course, but for a double hit of summery coffee desserts, make an Adffogato listed below. 

Vegan Chocolate Espresso Gelato

Makes about
 3 1/2 pints / 1.6 liters


  • 1 can (13.5 to 14 ounces / 400 to 414 ml) full-fat organic coconut milk, (do not use light)
  • 3 tablespoons / 14 grams instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup / 207 grams organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup / 58 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3 ounces / 85 grams vegan espresso-flavored chocolate, finely chopped, or use a chocolate, 72-85%
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons / 5 grams arrowroot
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 90 ml water, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract
  • Chocolate-covered coffee beans, for serving (optional) 


  1. Add enough water to the coconut milk to equal 3 cups / 720 ml. Pour into a medium saucepan. Have a fine sieve set over a 4-cup heatproof measure or bowl nearby.
  2. Mix the espresso powder into the coconut milk. Cook over medium-low heat to a gentle boil. Add the sugar and cook to a low boil over medium heat, whisking a few times until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Whisk half the cocoa powder into the liquid until dissolved, and then whisk in the other half until dissolved. Simmer on low heat for 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so that small bubbles are visible around the sides of the saucepan and occasionally in the center. Add the chocolate and stir until it is melted.
  4. Strain the mixture through the sieve into the heatproof measure or bowl. Rinse and dry the saucepan. Pour the base back into the saucepan and return the liquid to a simmer over low heat.
  5. In a small bowl, dissolve the arrowroot in the water. (Remember the rule: arrowroot must never be dissolved in warm or hot liquid.)
  6. Whisking constantly, add the dissolved arrowroot to the simmering mixture. The mixture will thicken. Cook only to a gentle boil and then immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the vanilla.
  7. Pour the mixture into a 4-cup / 1-liter container and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until thoroughly chilled before churning. Chilling the base thoroughly means faster churning, which results in a creamier frozen dessert.
  8. When the mixture is cold, give it a good whisk. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. It will look like soft serve when it’s ready.
  9. Using a silicone spatula, immediately transfer the frozen gelato to the chilled storage container. Cover tightly, and freeze for 30 to 60 minutes until the gelato is firm enough to scoop.

Freeze the gelato in a covered container. For the best flavor and texture, eat the gelato within one week.

Serve the gelato in chilled dishes. Garnish with a few chocolate-covered coffee beans if you like.

Affogato (“drowned” in Italian) is just a shot of espresso poured over a serving of gelato. For each serving of affogato, scoop a portion of gelato into a dish and freeze it for 15 to 20 minutes so it’s quite firm when you pour the espresso over it. Serve immediately.


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



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The Great Vegan Pie Contest

Great Vegan Pie Contest JudgesRecently, U.S. Veg Corps asked me to judge The Great Vegan Pie Contest that they hosted at VSpot Organic, along with Diana from This Pie is Nuts and Barbara from Gone Pie. Some work is more fun than… well, this is more fun than almost anything!

The winners selected by the judges were 1- Sweet Potato Mini Pies in Gingerbread Crust, 2- Chocolate Truffle Pie, and 3- Strawberry-Rosewater Pie.


Pie ContestJudges first place winner Chef Kasey Hearns said this was her first competition. We all acknowledged that making individual pastry dough crusts is a lot of work. We judges liked the flavor and flakiness of the crust and the-not-too-sweet-but-well-spiced filling too. Our collective feedback was more filling would have been better.


Chocoalte Raspberry PieSecond prize went to Brian David for his Raw Truffle Pie with Raspberries. It was creamy and intensely chocolate and the raspberries added a bit of needed sweet tart. Lovely presentation, don’t you think?


Stars PieVSpot Pastry Chef and owner of Brooklyn Rose Pastries Shoshana Frishberg-Izzo made hand pies for the judges and guest, as well as this larger version of same Strawberry-Rosewater recipe. She got third from judges, but won first place for People’s Choice.


PieA happy guest!


Pie ContestOther delicious pies were the S’mores Pie by Tere Fox of Rockin’ Raw, Dayna Rozental’s Mini Watermelon Pies, and a pie from Wendy Landiak from Shankara Vegan Restaurant. Ice creams were provided by Junie Dish of Rockforest Organics and Blythe Ann’s. A delicious time was had by all!



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5 Favorite Coconut Milk Chocolates

For some time I’ve wanted to introduce my readers to the growing number of remarkable women with much to tell us about about food, fitness, and beyond. Today it’s my pleasure to welcome my first guest Food Writer-Feminist-Chocolate Eater Megan Gillerwhose blog is on my short list of must reads. Today, Megan writes about the bean to bar process and the best coconut milk chocolates. After you read (and drool), don’t forget to enter the contest. You could win a very special box of  vegan Chocolate Truffles from our friends at the award winning French Broad Chocolates in Asheville, NC.


French Broad TrufflesI love milk chocolate. There, I said it. As a chocolate expert, sometimes I want to savor a piece of the darkest chocolate, and sometimes I want to relax into the luscious creaminess of milk chocolate. Why am I waxing chocorific about milk on a vegan blog? Well, because some of the best milk chocolates I’ve tasted are actually vegan: They’re made with coconut milk!

Now, this isn’t any old chocolate with coconut milk added. The small companies releasing these kinds of bars and bonbons make their chocolate from scratch: They buy whole beans and roast, grind, and refine them into chocolate themselves. It’s called “bean-to-bar chocolate,” and the movement is exploding the way craft beer and specialty coffee did a few decades ago. There’s so many great makers these days that I’m writing an entire book about American bean-to-bar chocolate, with profiles of makers, background on bean to bar, and recipes from pastry chefs and chocolatiers like Alice Medrich and Michael Recchiuti (it’s coming out from Storey Publishing in 2017!).


Charm School Chocolate Melted


Here are 5 of my favorite coconut milk chocolates from some of the best makers around!


Charm School Chocolate Coconut Milk ChocolateCoconut Milk From Charm School Chocolate
This vegan maker has created a truly scrumptious bar with single-origin cocoa beans from Belize, coconut milk, whole vanilla beans, and sea salt. No wonder it won awards at both the 2016 International Chocolate Awards and the 2015 Good Food Awards!

Raaka Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk From Raaka Chocolate
Dark chocolate meets coconut in this 60 percent bar from the hip Brooklyn company for a bar that tastes as good as it looks. Find notes of caramel and strawberry in this melt-in-your-mouth goodie.


Madre Chocolate

Coconut and Caramelized Ginger From Madre Chocolate
Caramelized ginger ups the ante in this coconut milk bar from Hawaii. There’s a reason it won a gold medal at the 2014 Northwest Chocolate Festival and is the company’s most popular seller.


Buddha Collection Truffles From French Broad Chocolates

Buddha Collection Truffles From French Broad Chocolates
French Broad Chocolates makes much more than bars with their bean-to-bar chocolate: At their café in Asheville, North Carolina, you’ll find cakes, cookies, drinking chocolate, and bonbons. Of course, you can also order some of those sweets online, including this coconut cream collection of vegan truffles: Think classics like chocolate caramel as well as unusual flavors like olive oil, orange, and fennel.


Coconut Couverture from Zotter Chocolate

Coconut Couverture from Zotter Chocolate
White chocolate meets its vegan maker in this rich couverture chocolate perfect for baking or making bonbons. Zotter adds a chaser of bourbon vanilla to the mix for an added bonus.


Food writer, feminist, and chocolate eater Megan Giller explores the world of American craft chocolate on her site Chocolate Noise. Read about the best bean-to-bar makers in America, with mouthwatering photos and videos to match. She’s also working on a book about the American craft chocolate movement, to be published by Storey Publishing in 2017. Join the journey at and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter to get mouthwatering stories delivered to your inbox!


French Broad Chocolates Buddha Collection Truffles

We have a 12-piece box of Buddha Collection Truffles from French Broad Chocolates for one lucky winner! The Buddha Collection truffle box contains:

Buddha – our original vegan truffle made with bittersweet chocolate & coconut cream.
Lemongrass Ginger – lemongrass, ginger, and lime in dark chocolate coconut cream ganache. topped with a slice of toasted coconut.
Strawberry Balsamic – purée of local strawberries and organic balsamic vinegar in a dark chocolate + coconut cream ganache. sprinkled with cacao nibs.
Chocolate Caramel – a rich, creamy chocolate caramel made with coconut milk, in a dark chocolate shell.
Bananas Foster Caramel –  organic bananas and rum in a creamy coconut caramel, with cacao nibs for crunch. In a dark chocolate shell.
Orange & Olive Oil – locally-bottled olive oil & essential oil of orange in dark chocolate, topped with candied fennel.

To enter for a chance to win, follow the instructions below. U.S. residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight on July 19th. Good luck!


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