Chef Fran Costigan

Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake


Photo from Kate Lewis from my book Vegan Chocolate

This easy-to-make and easy-to-enjoy cake is for anytime, but it really does fit Thanksgiving perfectly. The primary sweetener in the cake batter is Maple Syrup, which was named Indian Sugar by the colonists, who learned about it from the Native American people. Maple syrup is made from the sap of the sugar maple. A gallon of syrup, depending on the quality, requires thirty-five to fifty gallons of sap. I use the dark Grade B syrup for baking (and it is the least expensive tooo) but Grade A, dark amber can also be used too.

Cranberries are grown almost exclusively in the United States, and are a Thanksgiving staple ingredient, as a sauce, (I grew up on the canned kind), and cooked or uncooked relishes. This tart, vibrant red berry is very healthy too! Many years ago in Italy, I cooked a Festa Americana as Thanksgiving known, for Italian friends. Fresh cranberries were the  only basic holiday ingredient I could not find anywhere.

And then there are the Pecans in the crumb topping of the cake. Pecans are native to North America and high in vitamin E. The best are said to come from Georgia. Store nuts in your freezer or refrigerator so they don’t become rancid. Actually, taste them first to make sure they are fresh!

Check out the photographs sent to me by readers who have made this popular cake, from the recipe in my book Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts.


Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake

Cranberries, pecans, and oats are health-promoting foods, and I prefer them in this recipe. But feel free to use any combination of dried fruit and nuts you like. As a beach lover, my visual cue for the crumb, which needs to be moistened but not wet, is the consistency of damp sand.

Makes one (9-inch / 23-cm) cake, 10 to 12 servings



  • 1⁄2 cup / 57grams dried cranberries
  • Zest and juice of a medium organic orange
  • 3⁄4 cup / 79grams pecans, roasted and cooled, coarsely chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup / 25grams rolled oats, toasted and cooled
  • 1⁄2 cup / 83grams organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered, or use maple sugar
  • 2 tablespoons /30 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons /21 grams vegan chocolate chips


  • 1 cup / 129grams organic all-purpose flour
  • 3⁄4 cup / 103grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1⁄4 cup / 25grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1⁄3 cup / 64grams organic granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon / 5grams aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon / 5grams baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 75 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3⁄4 cup / 180 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
  • 3⁄4 cup / 180 ml any nondairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon /15 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon /15 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon pure orange oil (optional)
  • 1⁄3 cup / 57grams vegan chocolate chips
  • 1⁄2 cup / 120 ml Chocolate Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze (optional)


Make the Crumb

  1. Mix the cranberries and orange juice in a small bowl and soak for 10 minutes, or until softened. (The amount of time needed depends on the dryness of the fruit.)
  2. Drain the cranberries reserving 1 tablespoon / 15 ml of the juice. Return the cranberries to the bowl, and add the pecans, oats, whole cane sugar, zest, and oil. If the crumb is dry, add the reserved tablespoon of juice. Think damp sand. Stir the chips into the crumb and set aside while you make the cake.

Make the Cake

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350˚F / 180˚C. Oil the sides and bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment circle (or paper cut to fit). Do not oil the paper.
  2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, 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.
  3. Whisk the oil, maple syrup, nondairy milk, vanilla, vinegar, and orange oil (if using) in a separate medium bowl until completely combined. Immediately pour into the dry mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth. Stir the chocolate chips into the batter.
  4. Pour about half the batter into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle with half the crumb, going light on the center. Pour the remaining batter over the crumb, using a small spatula or thin knife to spread batter to the sides of the pan if necessary. Sprinkle the remaining crumb over the batter, again keeping the center relatively light on crumb.
  5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
  6. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a piece of parchment on top of the cake and invert. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Invert the cake again, top side up on the rack and cool to room temperature before cutting and serving.


Serve the cake at room temperature, or warm slices in the oven at 325˚F / 160˚C for 5 minutes. If you are glazing the cake, wait until after it is warmed and drizzle with Chocolate Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze.


Store the cake in a covered container overnight at room temperature. Refrigerate wrapped tightly for up to three days.


Chocolate Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze

You won’t need to chop or melt chocolate or add oil to make this luxurious chocolate glaze that is suitable for any cake. All it takes is bringing a kettle of water to just under the boil and sifting the sugar and cocoa. The glaze can also be refrigerated for a month in a covered container, so you may want to make a double batch.

Makes 1/2 cup / 120 ml, enough for one 9-inch / 23-cm cake



  • 1 1/3 cups / 140 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons / 16 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons / 40 ml boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract



  1. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa into a small heatproof bowl.
  2. Add the boiling water and whisk until the sugar and cocoa are dissolved and the glaze is smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla and whisk until incorporated.


Refrigerate in a covered container up to one month. Allow time for the glaze to return to room temperature before using, stirring a few times. If the glaze becomes too thick to pour, stir in a teaspoon at a time of hot water until the desired consistency is reached.


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

If you liked this post, please share it.

Thanksgiving Morning Chocolate, Fruit and Nut Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

You may remember that when I was in Portland for the Portland VegFest, I got to bake with Grant Butler, who is food writer (and fellow vegan) of the Oregonian. Grant told me to gathera lot of holiday recipes for his column. We  talked about how the vegan quick breads and muffins that would be good for Thanksgiving, and I offered up my updated Chocolate-enhanced Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins as a faster alternative to a lonter baking quick breads.  Grant liked the idea, and I got to spend a few fun hours in his home kitchen making these muffins with him. Obviously I bake a lot in my small but efficient NYC apartment kitchen. Grant, on the other hand, has a fabulous kitchen with plenty of space. His spice/ condiment cabinet fascinated me. Not a drawer, folks – Grant has a cabinet. Also, as this is Portland, OR, the attractive black countertops are made from recycled materials. We not only made – and tasted the muffins that morning, we made a How To baking video while doing so.


Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Pecans

Makes 12 standard size muffins

This update to the quick and easy Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins in More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally  is the result of my two granddaughters; Georgia and Cecile’s idea to add chocolate chips before baking. (All Costigans think chocolate makes everything better so I put some into the batter too!) I believe that taking 5 minutes to cook the whole cane sugar and spices into the pumpkin puree makes the best tasting muffins, and the puree can be made days ahead and even frozen. Because homemade pumpkin puree is often watery, cooking it first will evaporate extra liquid. Note that canned pumpkin puree from Farmer’s Market brand is  excellent.If you are pressed for time, use their organic pumpkin pie mix.



For the Spiced Pumpkin Puree: This makes more than you need for the recipe. Stir extra puree into oatmeal or grits or blend into smoothies.

  • 2 cups unsweetened canned pumpkin purée
  • 2/3 cup organic whole cane sugar (such as Sucanat), or maple
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

For the batter:

  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 2/3 cup soymilk or almond milk
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 heaping cup cooled Spiced Pumpkin Purée
  • 1/4 cup mild tasting extra virgin olive oil, or any neutral vegetable oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans (optional)


Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Oil a 12-cup standard muffin tin including the top.

To Make the Spiced Pumpkin Puree : Combine all the ingredients in a medium skillet. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture comes to a low boil. Lower the heat and simmer 3 to 4 minutes, until the purée is dark and shiny, slightly thickened, and the sugar has dissolved.

Remove from the heat and spoon into a shallow dish to cool. Refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 1 month. Use at room temperature.

To make the batter: In a small bowl, mix the soy or almond milk with 2 teaspoons of the apple cider vinegar. Set aside for 10 minutes to clabber.

Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to the strainer. Stir with a whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl.   Whisk to aerate the ingredients. Stir  1/3 cup of the chocolate chips

Combine the Spice Pumpkin Purée, oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in medium bowl. Add clabbered milk and whisk until well blended. Pour into dry mixture and stir with a spatula only until the batter is smooth and no traces of flour remain. Stir the cranberries into the batter.

Divide the batter evenly, filling each cup 3/4 full. An ice cream scoop makes filling the cups easy. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the remaing chocolate chips and a few pieces of the pecans.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until muffins are golden and a tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.

Cool the tin on a rack for 5 minutes. Carefully run a thin knife between the muffins and the inside of the cups, and lift each muffin onto the rack to cool completely.

Store at room temperature in a tightly closed tin for a day or freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost uncovered.

Fran's Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Chocoalate Chips

Adapted from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally, (Book Publishing Company 2006 by Fran Costigan)

Chocolate inspiration from Georgia and Cecile Costigan and Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts (Running Press, 2013 by Fran Costigan)

If you liked this post, please share it.

Julie Hasson’s Bumbleberry Cobbler

Prepping Julie Hassons Bumbleberry Cobbler

I agree with Julie Hasson who says, “In my book, you can never have enough berry dessert recipes. Ever!” I made the Bumbleberry Cobber from Julie’s latest book Vegan Casseroles this weekend, and as it is winter in N.Y.C., I used a mix of unthawed frozen organic blueberries and blackberries. The milk was almond and the oil was coconut.


Fran’s Bumbleberry Cobbler

This cobbler takes all of about 10 minutes to put together, and I baked it during dinner. The hardest part was waiting for it to cool before serving. I’m going to make the gluten-free version another time, and given that Julie’s recipes are always excellent, I know it’ll be a winner. Make this cobbler – you will love it. Don’t forget to enter the contest, which is at the end of this post, for a chance to win a BlendTec high-speed blender or one of the copies of Vegan Casseroles being given away. Vegan Casseroles is an appealing, user-friendly book, filled with have-to-make recipes as we have come to expect. Don’t forget to check out Julie’s last two cookbooks Vegan Diner and Vegan Pizza too.


Bumbleberry Cobbler - Vegan Casseroles

Bumbleberry Cobbler from Vegan Casseroles by Julie Hasson. Photo from the book.

Bumbleberry Cobbler

“In my book, you can never have enough berry dessert recipes. Ever!” This is another perfect berry dessert to add to your dessert rotation, no matter the season. One of the coolest things about this cobbler is that even though the berries go on the top, the batter below bakes up into a cake-like topping over them. I adapted this recipe from my pie book, The Complete Book of Pies.

Serves 4 to 6



  • 4 cups (1 pound) fresh or frozen mixed berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries (unthawed if frozen)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plain unsweetened soymilk or other nondairy milk
  • 1/3 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Fran’s Note: I don’t own an 11×7 inch pan but know that it holds 6 cups. I used a 8×3 inch round cake pan instead.

In a medium bowl, toss the berries with 1/4 cup of the sugar.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Add the soymilk, melted margarine, and vanilla, whisking to combine.

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish. Scoop the berries evenly on top of the batter (don’t stir, as the batter will rise to the top as it bakes).

Bake for about 65 to 70 minutes, or until the top crust is nicely browned and looks cooked through and the berries have formed a thick sauce. If it looks like there are a few spots where the batter isn’t cooked all the way through, which you can confirm by lightly touching the spots with your finger, continue baking for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Let the cobbler cool on a rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Gluten-Free: Substitute a mix of 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1/4 cup superfine brown rice flour, 1/4 cup potato starch, and 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum for the all-purpose flour.


Reprinted with permission from VEGAN CASSEROLES © 2014 by Julie Hasson, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.


Follow the instructions below for a chance to win a BlendTec 725 Designer Blender. Five runners up will receive a copy of Vegan Casseroles. US residents only please. Contest ends December 11th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you liked this post, please share it.