Chef Fran Costigan

Vegan Ice Cream for Margarita Day

I was watching Oscar previews and thinking about getting outside quickly during this short window of sun and double digit temperatures in NYC, when I learned that today is National Margarita Day. Where? On twitter of course. (BTW, I’m @Goodcakesfran.) I don’t eat much ice cream in winter, especially not during this super frigid one. Still, I couldn’t resist posting this recipe from my Vegan Chocolate book for the ‘holiday’. Enjoy now, or enjoy when the weather changes for good. Happy National Margarita Day and Oscar night. Good luck to all the talent in Hollywood!

Chocolate Margarita Ice Cream LR

Rim a cocktail glass with salt, fill it with ice cubes, and then pour in one ounce of premium agave-based tequila, a half-ounce of triple sec, and a half-ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir a few times until chilled. Sip slowly. That’s my recipe for a perfect margarita.

When I began thinking about making a margarita-flavored chocolate ice cream, I had to play with perfection. Too much alcohol prevents ice cream from freezing, but too little “margarita mix” and the flavor won’t come through. This is all to say that this ice cream required more tests than many of the recipes in the ice cream chaper in Vegan Chocolate. (I can assure you that even the rejected recipes were eaten or sipped!) When finally the recipe worked, using the Sweet Thick Cashew Cream as a base, it was clear to me and the testers that the hardest part about making this recipe is not drinking the base straight-up first.

Note: Because the freezing point of alcohol is much lower than water, boozy ice creams take longer to churn.

Chocolate Margarita Ice Cream

Makes About A Pint / 500 Ml


  • 1⁄4 cup / 25 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 cup / 60 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber, or agave syrup
  • 1 recipe Sweet Thick Cashew Cream (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml tequila
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons / 7.5 ml triple sec
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 drops pure lime oil or the zest of one organic lime
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon guar gum
  • Flaked sea salt, for serving (optional)
  • Thinly sliced limes dipped in sugar, for serving (optional)


  1. Add the cocoa powder and maple syrup or agave syrup to the blender. Blend on low to mix. The cocoa will not be completely dissolved. Do not wash the blender.
  2. Add enough water to the Sweet Thick Cashew Cream to make 2 cups / 480 ml, then add 2 more tablespoons / 30 ml of water. Add to the blender. Blend, starting on low, then quickly increase the speed to high for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tequila, triple sec, salt, and lime oil (or lime zest). Blend until incorporated.
  4.  Sprinkle the guar gum directly onto the mixture. Blend on low for 30 seconds, then quickly increase the speed to high and blend for 1 minute.
  5.  Pour the ice cream base into a 2-cup / 1⁄2-liter container. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours until thoroughly chilled before churning. Chilling the base thoroughly means faster churning, which results in a creamier frozen dessert.
  6.  When the mixture is cold, give it a good whisk. Pour it into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. The ice cream will look like soft serve when it is ready.
  7. Using a silicone spatula, immediately transfer the ice cream to the chilled storage container. Cover tightly and freeze for at least 3 hours or longer until the ice cream is firm enough to scoop.

Serve the ice cream in chilled bowls with a sprinkle of flaked sea salt and garnish with thinly sliced limes dipped in sugar if you like.

Keeping: Freeze the ice cream in a tightly covered container. For the best flavor and texture, eat the ice cream within one week.


Thick Sweet Cashew Cream

Makes about 1 3/4cups / 420 ML


  • 5 ounces (about 1 cup) / 142 grams whole raw cashews, rinsed and soaked 3 to 4 hours or overnight
  • 2/3 cup / 160 ml  room temperature water
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml agave syrup or pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
  • 1 teaspoon / 5ml pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon guar gum


  1. Drain and rinse the cashews in a strainer. Put the drained nuts into a blender and add the water and maple or agave syrup. Blend, starting on low, and quickly increase the speed to high. Blend about 1 minute until the cream is until perfectly smooth. Push any pieces of unblended cashews down into the cream and blend for another minute.
  2. Add the guar gum directly onto the cream, making sure it doesn’t land on the sides of the container. Blend on low for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to high and blend for 1 minute.
  3. The cream is ready to use now but can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


I love comments so please let me know:

Will you be watching the Oscars?

Do you believe in Food Holidays?

Do you like Margaritas?

And my big curiosity… do you eat ice cream in winter?


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Easy Heart-Shaped Chocolate Cake

Try this easy technique for a cake just right for Valentine’s Day. No specialty cake pan is needed!  All it takes is one 9-inch round layer, baked, cooled, chilled and few cuts with a knife.




Here is the Step by Step:

  • Bake a Chocolate Torte to Live For: Either the Standard cake, the No Oil-Added, or the Gluten free versions. 
  • Cool, wrap and refrigerate the layer until it is very cold. (You can freeze the cake too.)
  • Either cut a piece of parchment paper into a heart to use as a guide, or cut the round freehand into a heart shape. Save the pieces you’ve cut from the top and sides. Nibbling is definitely ok– resistance is futile–but save some of the cut pieces to use crumble for the alternative topping, if you decide on that option.
  • Lightly sweep a dry pastry brush across the sides and top of the cake to remove some loose crumbs. Don’t worry though, since the first coating of Bittersweet Ganache Glaze will glue any loose crumbs down.
  • Add a second coating of Bittersweet Ganache Glaze. Refrigerate until the glaze is set.




Alternatively, you can add a coating of crumbs made from the reserved pieces of cake you cut, to the glazed cake. In this case, sprinkle the crumbs over the ganache before it sets.  Refrigerate the cake until you are ready to slice and serve. Again, wait for the cake to return to room temperature before savoring each bite. (That said, I know some like it chilled. You made it, try both!)




To serve: For the neatest slices, cut the cake when it is still cold using a good sized knife dipped in very hot water and then wipe the blade dry (carefully). Set the slices on plates and wait until the cake is at room temperature for the best flavor

Recipe: Chocolate Torte to Live For

Recipe: Bittersweet Ganache Glaze

For tasting notes on some of the ethical vegan chocolates that add compassion to the recipe, see my Chocolate Tasting Party blog post.

From my kitchen to yours, I am wishing everyone a sweet, happy and delicious holiday.


All photos ©2015 Hannah Kaminsky

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Eight Vegan Chocolate Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Chocolate Recipes for Valentine's DayApparently chocolate melting in one’s mouth can cause a more intense and longer-lasting pleasure than kissing. I found this “fact” online and will not attest to the veracity, but what is for sure is that chocolate on Valentine’s Day is the way to your sweetie’s heart, your family and friends too. Here are eight recipes from my book Vegan Chocolate. Some are super quick and some take a little time, but all are perfect Valentine’s Day. I believe that using vegan, organic and ethical chocolates (and sweeteners) to make Valentine’s treats is truly loving.

Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles

Truffles-p11-LRClassic chocolate truffles are sinfully indulgent, melt-in-your-mouth, bite-sized confections made from ganache (an emulsion of chocolate and heavy cream). Truffles sometimes include butter, as well as spices, coffee or tea, liqueurs, nuts, and even fruit purées for flavor. Vegan truffles, also based on ganache, are just as luxurious, velvety smooth, and indulgent—but not sinful.

The recipe can be found here:

Spicy Ginger Truffles

Truffles p38 LRAccording to my friend Lisa Pitman, an accomplished cook from Toronto, “Not only are these exquisite, they are perfect for sharing when you want to spice things up with a certain someone.” How you spice things up is up to you, but make sure you add enough ground ginger to ensure that at least these truffles are up to the task.

The recipe can be found on Chic Vegan here:


Bittersweet Ganache-Glazed Chocolate Torte to Live For

No-Oil-Added Chocolate Torte to Live For LRThe name for this cake dates back over twenty years to the day I was sure I had cracked the code for the perfect chocolate cake that was also vegan. I invited three friends over (non-vegan, as it happened) to taste the cake with me. After a big forkful each, we stopped, looked at each other, and said almost in unison, “Now this is a cake worth living for!” At least that is how I remember it. Since then, this has become my signature cake and remains the one most discussed, requested, Google-searched, praised, and served of all my cakes.

The recipe can be found here:


Gluten-Free Brownie Bites

GlutenFree Brownie Bites

You don’t need to be gluten-free to love these fudgy, deeply chocolate brownies. None of my tasters or testers could tell the difference between these and fudge brownies made with wheat.

Recipe can be found on


Raspberry Chocolate Silk Tart

Raspberry Chocolate Silk TartRaspberries and dark chocolate look beautiful together and taste even better. This luscious creamy pie is perfect for sharing with a loved one – or indulging on your own.

The recipe can be found here:


Chocolate Olive Oil Glaze for Anything

Chocolate Olive Oil Glaze for Chocolate-Dipped Anything LR

Just about anything can be dipped in this chocolate glaze – try mandarin orange slices, strawberries, cookies, confections, and snacks like pretzels and potato chips.

Recipe can be found here:

Chocolate Vodka

Chocolate VodkaAs impossible as it might sound, there seems to be no universal drinking cheer in Russian. Chocolate Vodka certainly screams out for one, so I simply say, “To your health and enjoy responsibly!”

The recipe can be found on here: 


Chocolate White Russians

Chocolate White RussianThe White Russian is the potent but easy to quaff cocktail that was a favorite of Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) in the Coen Brother’s cult classic The Big Lebowski—only he called it “The Caucasian.” I have enjoyed vegan versions of this cocktail made with nondairy creamer and have now upped the ante by starting with house-made cacao nib–infused Chocolate Vodka.

The recipe can be found on


I’m thinking about which ones of these I will make. What about you? I’d love to know!


All Photos ©Kate Lewis 2013, except Gluten-Free Brownie Bites ©2014 Hannah Kaminsky.


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When: March 10, 2015 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

I will discuss “Vegan Chocolate for Everyone” and share information about choosing and using high percentage chocolates and quality cocoa powders to make unapologetically luscious and decadent chocolate desserts in this free online event. I will speak about the importance of using…