Chef Fran Costigan

4 Vegan Dessert Recipes for the 4th of July

4 Vegan Dessert Recipes for the 4th of JulyKnock me over that June is over and it’s time for the 4th of July or Independence Day. Traditionally celebrated with barbecues, picnics, watermelon, corn and summer fresh berries, I choose two new and two old favorite dessert recipes to share with you. They’re all quick and easy and can be made ahead. Please let me know if you make them, some or all!

4 Vegan Dessert Recipes for the 4th of July

Red, White and Blue Cornbread ShortcakesRed, White and Blue Cornbread Shortcakes

Of course, I like biscuits but let’s be honest, they’re basically flour and fat, and are kind of bland tasting on their own. My ideal shortcake base is would be flavorful and more nurtitious, and I figured the quick and easy corn muffins would fit the bill. Did they ever! Note the very small amount of fat and sweetener in the recipe! Anyway, who doesn’t want to eat corn on the Forth of July?  I used Bob’s Red Mill medium grind – I like the slight crunch, but you can use fine grind. The Vanilla Cream is from Vegan Chocolate (Running Press 2013). The fruit is from my farmers market!

Makes 12 shortcakes


For the Corn Muffins 

Note: Muffins can be made ahead and frozen.

  • 1 cup fresh yellow cornmeal, use medium grind for a pleasant crunch
  • 3/4 cup all-purpse flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons any favorite plant milk (I don’t recommend rice milk here)
  • 3 tablespoons pure dark maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons mild tasting extra virgin olive oil or any neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Shortcakes


  1. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Oil a 12 cup standard muffin tin.
  2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the cornmeal, both of the flours,  baking powder, and salt to the strainer. Whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. Stir with a wire whisk to aerate the ingredients.
  3. Whisk the plant milk, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl until well blended. Pour into the dry mixture and whisk only until the batter is smooth. The batter will drop off a spoon like heavy pancake batter. Fill the muffin tin cups three-quarters full.
  4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until firm to the touch, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  5. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes and turn the muffins out of the pan onto the rack to cool. If not using immediately, place in a plastic bag or container to keep them moist. Extra muffins can be frozen in a tightly closed container for up to 2 months.
  6. When the muffins are cool, cut in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Place one half on a plate and top with a healthy dollop of Vanilla Custard Cream and some berries. Place the other muffin half on top along with more Vanilla Custard Cream and more berries. Continue until you’ve made as many shortcakes as you like. 

Corn Muffin recipe Adapted from recipe in More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally, © 2006 by Fran Costigan.


White Chocolate MousseWhite Chocolate Cream Parfaits

Adapted from the White Chocolate and Matcha Mousse Pudding in Vegan Chocolate, this version of the pudding is not only divine, it is a bit faster to make. I love the freedom of using good recipes as building blocks to new ones. Here, a portion of the cream is left white and the rest (or as much as you want) is flavored with strawberry (or raspberry) jam.

Note: For the berry cream, the ratio is 1 tablespoon jam (seedless or not, that is up to you) stirred into 1/4 cup of the cream. Taste and adjust flavor and color as you wish.

Makes 1 cup cream for 4 small servings. I use more fruit than cream. The recipe is easily doubled. 


  • 6 ounces  vegan white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup almond milk or coconut milk beverage
  • 4 ounces silken tofu  (one third of a 12.3-ounce/ 349 gram aseptic box), drained
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 pint blueberries


  1. Put a small heatproof bowl into a skillet and pour enough water into the skillet so that the water reaches halfway up the bowl. Put the chocolate chips in the bowl.
  2. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, adjusting the heat as needed to keep the water at a bare simmer. When the chocolate looks softer and glossy, stir with a silicone spatula until it is completely melted and smooth. White chocolate takes longer to melt than dark chocolate and chips, even longer.
  3. Keep the bowl of white chocolate in the warm water while you prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Add the drained tofu and lemon juice to food processor. Process, scraping down sides as needed.
  5. Wipe the bottom of the bowl of chocolate. Add the melted white chocolate to the food processor, and pulse until blended. Add the almond milk or coconut milk beverage and blend. Spoon the cream into a bowl and refrigerate a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend ideally but it is ready to use if you are ready to go.
  6. Make the berry cream per the note.  The cream can be made up to 3 days in advance. Refrigerate in a covered container.
Make the parfaits
Spoon a layer of the white cream into a small glass. Add lots of raspberries and top with some of the berry cream. Top with blueberries. Use any combination of cream and berries  you like, of course! It’s your parfait.

Adapted from the White Chocolate and Matcha Mousse Pudding recipe in Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan.


Watermelon Granita with Chocolate Seeds from Vegan Chocolate by Fran CostiganWatermelon Granita with Chocolate Seeds

Watermelon for the 4th! Cold, refreshing fruit ice is perfect for a hot summer day. Add as many chocolate “seeds” as you like.

Makes about 1 1/2 pints / 3/4 liter


  • 1 1/2 pounds / 680 grams watermelon, cubed and seeded
  • 1/4 cup / 50 grams organic granulated sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
  • 1 tablespoon / 15 ml fresh lime juice
  • 1 to 2 ounces / 28 to 57 grams dark chocolate (any percentage), chopped into small chunks for the “seeds” (use more if you like)
  • Flaked sea salt (optional)


  1. Purée the watermelon cubes in a food processor or blender and pour into a bowl. (You should have 2 cups / 480 ml of juice.) Add the powdered sugar and lime juice to the purée and whisk briskly until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until hard. This can take up to 24 hours.
  3. Make the granita: Put a 2-quart container with a lid into the freezer. Transfer the frozen cubes to a food processor. Limit the number of cubes to no more than a double layer at a time so that the granita does not get slushy. Pulse a dozen or so times in 2 to 3-second bursts until the cubes are finely chopped. The number of pulses will depend on your machine.
  4. Scrape the granita into the chilled container, cover the container, and return it to the freezer; repeat with the remaining cubes if necessary.


The granita is ready to eat right out of the food processor. Serve in chilled bowls and garnish with as many chocolate “seeds” as you like. I believe watermelon benefits from a sprinkling of flaked sea salt, and if you agree, sprinkle a bit over each bowl.


Freeze the granita in a covered container. For the best flavor and texture, eat the granita within one week. Fluff with a fork before serving.


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


Chocolate Ice Cream Shell  from Vegan Chocolate by Fran CostiganChocolate Ice Cream Shell

Add drops of mint or orange oil to the Ice Cream Shell depending on your mood and the ice cream flavor you’re serving.

Makes 1 cup / 240 ml


For the Chocolate Ice Cream Shell

  • 7 ounces / 198 grams dark chocolate (68 to 70%), finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Serving

  • Your favorite vegan ice cream (There’s a whole chapter of vegan ice creams in my book Vegan Chocolate)
  • Raspberries and blueberries


  1. Place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl and set it in a saucepan of very hot water over the lowest heat. Allow the chocolate to melt undisturbed until about two-thirds is melted.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir with a silicone spatula until all the chocolate is melted. Stir the oil into the chocolate until incorporated. Add the vanilla.
  3. Keep the shell in liquid form until ready to pour over the ice cream— do not refrigerate.


Spoon a few tablespoons of the liquid shell over a the ice cream and wait a few seconds until it magically hardens. The liquid sauce will turn into a firm chocolate shell within a few seconds of touching ice cream and will turn matte when it hardens. Top with lots of blueberries and raspberries.


Store the Chocolate Ice Cream Shell in a jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It will harden. To warm before using: place the jar in a small saucepan. Pour hot water to reach about halfway up the sides of the jar and warm over the lowest heat until liquefied.


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


The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner

The Homemade Vegan PantryMiyoko Schinner has been delivering up her distinctive style of gourmet vegan cuisine for decades through her many enterprises, including her Now and Zen restaurant in San Francisco, the natural food company where she invented Hip Whip and the Unturkey, cooking classes, lectures, and cookbooks. Her groundbreaking book Artisan Vegan Cheese preceeded Miyokos’s highly anticipated newest: The Homemade Vegan Pantry. Miyoko is the founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen, makers of artisanal vegan cheese which are available at key retailers and online. I had the delicious pleasure of visiting Miyoko’s Kitchen on June 1st this year,  when I was in the Bay Area for my Google YouTube Vegan Chocolate event. Let me just say this, Miyoko’s cheese facility is all that you’d imagine and more. Since I stayed at Miyoko’s home, I got to see her advance copy of The Homemade Vegan Pantry and taste the Glorious Butterless Butter, which can be found in the book. It looks and tastes like the best butter of memory, and really, it is quite simple to make. Miyoko’s recipes work.

WafflesIt was hard to choose a recipe to make for the blog, and while I think most people, including Miyoko, would have expected I’d go right for the French Buttercream, my family had other ideas. I was responsible for making breakfast at my daughter’s home Sunday, June 14th, which happens to be my birthday. Go figure. My grandsons Seth and Eli (5 and 4 respectively) and their dad wanted pancakes and waffles. I looked through my copy of The Homemade Vegan Pantry and there I found Classic Pancake and Biscuit Mix. The photos we took of our adventures in breakfast are not especially fine, but the pancakes and waffles sure were. My daughter took the apron strings after all and said, “Mom, this is like a healthy Bisquick”. The mix came together in no time. Wanting to make the whole wheat version but without whole wheat pastry flour in the house, Tracy mixed all-purpose and whole wheat flours, 50-50. She heated the griddle and also her stovetop Waffle Stick pan.  Another thing Tracy has that I don’t is a pancake batter dispenser. I never understood the point. Now I do. Making designer pancakes was a breeze. The boys, who are used to taste testing recipes, gave two enthusiastic thumbs up.  Tracy is going to make this again and keep it stored in a container in her refrigerator. (Mom says, whole wheat in the refrigerator!) With recipes for everything from Ketchup, Mustard, Jam, Sour Cream, to make your own Tempeh and Real Tofu, Yuba and UnFish Sticks, there is something for everyone who wants to make their own real food. Right now, I’m fascinated by the recipe for Roasted Tomato Skin Pesto that follows the Roasted Tomatoes. Who but Miyoko would find a way to use those flavorful skins?! She did the same with the flax seeds left after straining the Flax Seed Egg Whites, giving us the option to make crackers. I’m going to be DIY’ing from this book on a very regular basis. Check it out, I think you’ll feel the same.


Classic Pancake and Biscuit Mix

 Classic Pancake and Biscuit Mix

Weekends are more relaxing with this in your cupboard ready to be turned into pancakes, biscuits, and waffles.


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 3 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined,
2 to 3 minutes. Store in an airtight container or ziplock bags in your pantry for up to 6 months.
Makes 4 1/2 cups

Whole Wheat Pancake and Biscuit Mix – Substitute whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour and increase the baking powder to 3 tablespoons. Follow the ratios below for pancakes and waffles.
Whole Wheat Pancakes — 1 1/2 parts baking mix : 1 part soy milk
Whole Wheat Waffles—1 part baking mix : 1 part soy milk If desired, add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup at the same time as the soy milk for extra sweetness.


Diner Pancakes

These are thick, fluffy pancakes that will delight young and old alike, bringing memories of a time when Sunday mornings were lazy and meant for pajamas. And these pancakes let you stay in your pajamas, because they’re so easy to make once you have the mix!


  • 1 cup Pancake Mix
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk


  1. Actually, the recipe is just equal parts mix and non-dairy milk, so you can make this in any quantity you want. As a guide, one cup of mix is enough for four to six pancakes, so that might feed two or three people (or sometimes only one!).
  2. Get your griddle heating before you mix the batter, because it takes no time to do that, and you’ll be waiting around for your hot griddle otherwise. Your griddle should always be hot when the pancake batter hits it. To make the batter, simply put the mix in a bowl, and the milk, and stir quickly and not thoroughly; you want to deliberately leave it lumpy. When the griddle is hot, spray it lightly with non-stick spray, or melt a little Glorious Butter on it. Then pour about a third to half a cup of batter per pancake. To make light, fluffy pancakes, make sure to cook it on one side until the top is covered in bubbles (air pockets), then flip and cook briefly until browned. They’ll rise quite a bit, so three will form quite a stack. Spread some Glorious Butter, pour on some maple syrup, and dig in while in your jammies!

Crispy Waffles


  • 1 cup Pancake mix
  • 1 1/4 cup nondairy Milk

Whisk together the mix and nondairy milk. Pour into a heated waffle iron, and cook until crispy and golden brown on both sides.


Reprinted from THE HOMEMADE VEGAN PANTRY Copyright © 2015 by Miyoko Schinner. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.  Photo © 2015 by Eva Kolenko


I have a copy of The Homemade Vegan Pantry for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on Sunday, July 5th. U.S. residents only, please. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding

Amost-Instant Chocolate Pudding from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan

I grew up eating my mom’s chocolate pudding from a boxed mix. It was a bit lumpy and thick, with rubbery chocolate pudding skin (My mom gave me permission to tell this story), but it was warm and chocolate and homemade, and I liked it. On the East Coast there was only one brand worth knowing: My-T-Fine, the premium pudding. It wasn’t exactly instant, since the mix had to be cooked with dairy milk. Somewhere along the way Mom decided cooking pudding and washing the pot was not worth the effort. We moved over to Jell-O brand—really instant pudding: put the mix in a bowl, add milk, and mix with a rotary egg beater. Still, if the bowl wasn’t deep enough (especially if I was doing the mixing) it spattered, and then there were still beaters to wash. And the finished pudding was cold! That’s why I love this recipe so much: in the same time it took my mom to make sad chocolate pudding, or less, you can make Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding that is real chocolate pudding the way we always wanted it to be: warm, thick, and chocolaty. Plus this one additive, dairy and cholesterol-free.

Notes: The cornstarch is crucial to get the right texture for this pudding. Using another starch thickener, such as my usual first choice arrowroot, would result in pudding with a stringy, unpleasant texture.

Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding

Makes 2 1/4 cups


  • 1 cup /222grams organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup /56 grams organic cornstarch (do not use arrowroot, see Note)
  • 1/4 cup / 50 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 3/4 cups / 900ml vanilla soymilk, vanilla almond milk, or vanilla coconut milk beverage
  • 3 ounces / 46 grams dark chocolate (59 to 70%), chopped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon/ 5ml pure vanilla extract


  1. Sift the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt through a wire mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Slowly stir in the milk. Keep stirring until no trace of any of the dry ingredients is visible. The idea is to make sure the cornstarch is completely dissolved before you turn on the heat.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken and is close to a boil. This can take as long as 12 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to get a full boil, but don’t let it be so high that the bottom scorches. As soon as the pudding starts to boil, it will thicken to pudding consistency. Immediately lower the
    heat and boil gently for another minute, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Gently stir in the chocolate with the silicone spatula until the chocolate is melted and incorporated.
    Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Spoon the pudding into a bowl. It will be set and ready to use in about 30 minutes at room temperature, but it can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. If you refrigerate it, cover the surface with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap adheres to the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.


From Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts© 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press. Photo credit: Kate Lewis