Chef Fran Costigan

Vegan Spicy Ginger Truffles for Valentine’s Day

Spicy Ginger Truffles from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan. Photo ©Kate LewisThe pungent flavor of the ginger powder comes through in these ultra creamy truffles. My friend Lisa Pitman, an accomplished cook from Toronto, exclaimed, “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 ginger powder to ensure these exquiste truffles are up to the task. Remember: bittersweet chocolate will temper the flavor of the ginger. Using coconut sugar adds a subtle caramel note to the spiciness, but mixing organic granulated sugar and whole cane sugar works just as well. Either way, just follow the recipe carefully and your reward will be luxurious truffles to serve after a meal of vegetable curry.

Spicy Ginger Truffles from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan. Photo ©Kate LewisSpicy Ginger Truffles

Makes about 30 (1-inch / 2.5-cm) truffles


  • 8 ounces / 227 grams dark chocolate (68 to 71%), finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml unsweetened canned full-fat coconut milk, well-stirred (do not use light)
  • 2 tablespoons / 18 grams coconut sugar or 1 tablespoon each organic whole cane sugar (9 grams) and granulated sugar (13 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon / 6 grams ground ginger, divided, or more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • Dutch-process cocoa powder, for coating (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaked sea salt, for coating, plus more for sprinkling on finished truffles (optional)
  • Candied ginger, slivered, for serving (optional) 


  1. Set a fine mesh strainer over a heatproof liquid measuring cup for straining the heated milk. Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set aside while you heat the milk.
  2. Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add the sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons / 3 grams of the ground ginger, and the salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking a few times, to a low boil.
  3. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Cover the saucepan and let the milk sit for 10 minutes to infuse with the flavor of the ginger, stirring a few times. The heat of the ginger should be pronounced, so taste the milk now. If not, add a little more ginger to taste and let the milk infuse another few minutes.
  4. Pour the milk through the strainer into the measuring cup. Discard any solids.
  5. Wash and dry the saucepan. Return the spiced milk to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until small bubbles are visible around the sides.
  6. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate all at once. Gently rotate the bowl so the chocolate is completely submerged. Cover the bowl with a plate and let stand undisturbed for about 4 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla and olive oil and whisk from the center out only until smooth and glossy.
  8. Keep the bowl of ganache at room temperature while you test the final consistency. A properly made truffle ganache is firm enough to scoop and shape but still tastes creamy. 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 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.
  9. Cool the ganache in a shallow dish at room temperature for 30 minutes. (The ganache sets up fastest and most evenly in a 9-inch / 23-cm glass pie pan or similar dish.) Refrigerate uncovered until the surface is no longer soft, then place a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ganache, covering it completely, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until very firm. The ganache can be refrigerated at this point for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

Make The Truffle Centers

Line a shallow container with parchment. Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. Use a spoon to scoop out 1-inch pieces of ganache and another to push the ganache off the spoon into the container. (If you prefer more uniform truffles, use a 1/2 tablespoon scoop.) When a half dozen or so are made, roll and press the pieces into irregularly shaped rounds. Repeat until all the ganache has been used, washing and drying your hands as needed. (If at any time the ganache becomes too soft to shape, refrigerate until cold and proceed.) Cover and refrigerate the truffle centers in layers separated by parchment paper for 15 to 25 minutes before finishing with the cocoa coating.

Finish The Truffles

Choose one of the following three methods to suit your time or taste: roll in cocoa powder, the remaining ginger, and flaked sea salt; coat in melted chocolate and cocoa powder (the hybrid method); or enrobe in tempered chocolate. Place the coated truffles in refrigerator to set for 30 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle the truffles with a pinch of ginger powder and a few grains of flaked sea salt just before serving, or press a small sliver of candied ginger into each.


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


Want to learn to bake like a vegan pro? Join me February 24th through 28th in New York City for my Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive©!

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How Not To Die Bites

How Not to Die Bites  – FranCostigan.comThis recipe, How Not To Die Bites, or the more mundane but still tasty Date, Nut, Seed and Spice Balls,  is a homage to the one and only Michael Greger, MD., founder


How Not to DieI recently had a message from the award-winning writer Gene Stone – you may know him as the co-author of many nationally bestselling books, including, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life, The Engine2 Diet, and Forks Over Knives. Gene asked if I’d like to make some desserts for the NYC book party of  How Not to Die, which he co-authored with Dr. Michael Greger, the physician behind the wildly popular website The book reveals the groundbreaking scientific evidence behind the only diet that can prevent and reverse many of the causes of disease-related death. The vast majority of premature deaths can be prevented through simple changes in diet and lifestyle. How Not to Die examines the fifteen top causes of premature death in America ― heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, and more ― and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches, freeing us to live healthier lives. I couldn’t put the book down, reading it cover to cover, underlining, highlighting and learning. Now I refer to it almost daily. While I have known personally known Dr. Greger and have followed his work for many years, I learned a lot, and am wild for the format of this book.

But back to the conundrum I felt when Gene asked about desserts for the How Not to Die party. “But it’s Dr. Greger.” Gene, “Well, Michael says once in a while treats in moderation are ok. It is a party after all!”

Chocolate DessertsI decided on the No Oil Added Chocolate Torte to Live For (the same cake I made for Rip and Jill Esselstyn’s wedding), Mini Gluten-Free Brownie Bites glazed with Bittersweet Ganache, each anointed with a heart-healthy walnut, Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles, and my brand new for the event, aforementioned How Not to Die Bites. The idea was to make a confection using many of the Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen, which can be found in the book.


Fran With Dr GregerI used dates, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cocoa powder, hemp, chia, and spices, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric. Did they get eaten as quickly as the chocolate desserts? Honest answer is no. Are they good? Honest answer yes! I went back to test the How Not to Die Bites again and changed a few things while measuring carefully. So here you go! Enjoy the not sweet, but zesty and good bites. Everyone should buy and read the book! Follow Dr Greger at and Gene at


How Not to Die Bites – FranCostigan.comHow Not To Die Bites for Michael Greger, MD

Makes 18 more of less 1 to 1 1/2-inch balls, and twice as many logs


  • 1/2 cup / 55 grams raw walnut halves
  • 5.5 ounces / 156 grams pitted Medjool dates (about 10 large)
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dutch-process)
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons water, depending on relative dryness or moistness of mixtures
  • 3 tablespoons hemp seeds, more for coating
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  • several grinds of black pepper

How Not to Die Bites –


  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the walnuts, pitted dates, pumpkin seeds a few times until chopped and then process to a paste. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and process until combined.
  2. The mixture should stick together. Squeeze a little between your fingers to test. Add the water as follows: If the mixtures if very sticky, do not add any water. If not, add a little at a time. I like it shiny and moist and usually add a tablespoon.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the hemp, chia, and the spices. I suggest you put on food handling gloves since turmeric makes hands orange! Mix and press the seeds and spices into the paste.
  4. Put some hemp, cocoa, and spice in a shallow bowl to use as coating. You can always add more.
  5. Pinch off pieces to make balls the size you like; and roll to shape in your hands and drop into the hemp coating. When all of the bites are made, roll them around in the coating. (This recipes makes a rich tasting bite. If you want smaller taste, and don’t feel like rolling more balls, simply cut each in half and roll into a log.)
  6. Store in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature. They’ll last a good long time if you don’t eat them all fast. Moderation is key.


Want to learn to bake like a vegan pro? Join me February 24th through 28th in New York City for my Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive©!

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Tapioca Berry Parfait from Vegan Under Pressure

Vegan Under Pressure by Jill Nussinow

This is not your mother’s pressure cooking. When I changed my diet 25 years ago, I was doing a lot of pressure cooking, macrobiotic-style, using a jiggle top type cooker. I was nervous everytime I used that kind of pressure cooker, but those days are over. The new generation of pressure cookers are safe and easier to use. But, for many, myself included, pressure cooking still seems daunting. Well, here is my friend and colleague, the very smart Jill Nussinow, RD, aka The VeggieQueen to the rescue.



The fact is, for the exponentially growing number of people who eat vegan, a pressure cooker is a blessing when it comes to saving time and enjoying a wider variety of foods on a regular basis. The pressure cooker drastically shortens the cooking times of healthful vegan staples such as dried beans and grains. Roasted Pepper and White Bean Dip and braised artichokes could become weeknight meals. In Vegan Under Pressure, Jill shows how to use the appliance easily, safely and effectively, while showing us the wide variety of vegan dishes that can be made quickly with the aid of a pressure cooker. Recipes inlcude , Homemade Hummus, Harissa-Glazed Carrots with Green Olives, Pozole Chili, Farro Salad with Tomatoes and Arugula, Thai Summer Vegetable Curry, a chapter of veggie burgers, Cornbread, Pear-Almond Upside Down Cake, and DIY soy milk and seitan.

Tapioca Berry Parfait from Vegan Under Pressure by Jill NussinowTapioca Berry Parfait

Serves 4

Making dessert doesn’t get much easier than this. Be sure to use a 6-quart (or larger) cooker as this gets very foamy, which can clog the vent or cause spewing liquid in a smaller pot. Make a double batch if you have enough room; it’s that good.


  • ½ cup small pearl (not instant) tapioca
  • 2 cups almond or any nondairy milk
  • Pinch of salt, optional
  • ¼ cup organic sugar or blonde coconut palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups fresh berries of your choice, sliced as needed
  • Fresh mint, for garnish


  1. Place the tapioca pearls in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under running water for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the milk to a pressure cooker. Add the tapioca and salt, if using, and stir. Lock on the lid. Bring to high pressure; cook for 4 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. Quick release any remaining pressure after 20 minutes. Open the lid carefully, tilting it away from you.
  3. Stir in the sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  4. Spoon 2 tablespoons berries into the bottom of 4 pretty bowls or parfait glasses. Add about ¼ cup tapioca, then 3 tablespoons berries. Add another ¼ cup tapioca and top with berries. Garnish with mint.

Variation: If stone fruits are in season, substitute chopped stone fruit for the berries.


Text excerpted from Vegan Under Pressure, © 2015 by Jill Nussinow. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Photo © Lauren Volo.


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