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If you love chocolate, you are going to LOVE what’s coming up on the Vegan Mainstream Cookbook Club. This week we are delighted to welcome the “queen of vegan desserts,” Fran Costigan, and boy are we looking forward to it! Fran’s latest cookbook, Vegan Chocolateoffers recipes for chocolate cakes, brownies, truffles, puddings, ice creams, and more that will appeal to every chocoholic—vegan or otherwise. And while committed vegans already know it can be difficult to find truly indulgent desserts that accommodate their diets, this breakthrough book will delight them and unite everyone and anyone who madly, deeply, and truly loves chocolate.

VC Cover smIn Vegan Chocolate, you will find better-for-you interpretations of 120 favorite chocolate desserts: flavored chocolate truffles, Brooklyn Blackout Layer Cake, Éclairs, White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake, Black-Bottom Cupcakes, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Mocha Crème Brûlée, Brownie Crumble Ice Cream, and even Moon Pies made with homemade vegan grahams. All of the recipes are plant-based, some are gluten-free and some are raw, but every single one is absolutely chocolate and made with quality, easily sourced ingredients, without dairy, eggs, and white sugar.

From setup and cooking to storing and keeping, Fran’s detailed instructions make for perfect results every time. With full color photographs by Kate Lewis throughout, Vegan Chocolate is a beautiful must-have for any cookbook collection.

Fran Costigan is an internationally recognized culinary instructor, recipe developer, and innovative vegan pastry chef, and the author of three cookbooks. A graduate of the New York Restaurant School and the Natural Gourmet Institute, Fran was a pastry chef in both traditional and vegan restaurant kitchens. Today Fran teaches her distinctive courses (including her Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive®) in her hometown of New York City at the Institute of Culinary Education and at the Natural Gourmet Institute and at major events throughout North America and Europe.

Have a question about vegan desserts? This is the time to ask it! Join us on the Vegan Mainstream Cookbook Club all week – and don’t miss our live chat with Fran on Wednesday at 5:30 pm PST/8:30 pm EST.

And now for the first challenge recipe of the week. Fran tells us that this chocolate pudding is easy, quick, and super delicious. Try it out, take a photo, and share it (and your experience with the recipe) on the Vegan Mainstream Cookbook Club page.

Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding  LR

Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding

In the same time it takes to make boxed chocolate pudding, you can make real chocolate that’s warm and thick, refined-sugar-free, very chocolaty and vegan!

Note: 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 soft and unpleasant texture.

Makes 2 1⁄4 cups

For 3 to 4 servings

1 ⁄2 cup organic granulated sugar

1 ⁄4 cup / organic cornstarch (do not use arrowroot, see Note)

1 ⁄4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 ⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 1 ⁄2 cups plus 6 tablespoons vanilla soymilk, vanilla almond milk, or vanilla coconut milk beverage

1 1 ⁄2 ounces dark chocolate (59 to 62%), chopped into small pieces

1 teaspoon 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.

Serving: Eat warm or at room temperature

This recipe is from Vegan Chocolate (Running Press; November 5, 2013; $30.00/Hardcover; ISBN-13; 978-0762445912), by Fran Costigan.

For more about Fran, please visit her on facebook, twitter or on her website: http://www.francostigan.com/