Vegan Cookbook Giveaway and Decadent Vegan Cupcake Recipe

by Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan on 5:24 am

Vegan Chocolate Cookbook Fran Costigan
With Valentine’s Day in mind, it’s the perfect time to think about sweets and chocolate, and nothing could be sweeter then delicious vegan desserts.

My favorite vegan dessert recipes come from this amazing vegan chef, Fran Costigan. Rightfully known as the Queen of Vegan Desserts, Fran is a world-renowned chef, author, recipe developer, educator, and all round dynamic, kind-hearted and compassionate person.

In her latest book Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, Fran Costigan serves up 120 delectable vegan recipes including truffles, frozen desserts, cakes,cupcakes, brownies, cookies, pies and tarts, confections, beverages (including some spirited ones), and show stoppers like her Chocolate Hazelnut Six-Layer Cake and Buche de Noel. As someone who was lucky enough to be a recipe tester for this book, I can assure you, these are the best of the best. The instructions are clear and concise. Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, this cookbook will grab your attention and get you in the kitchen whipping up these decadent treats in no time.

The mouthwatering photos by photographer Kate Lewis are off the charts show stoppers themselves. This is a beautiful book with high quality, glossy pages. It makes a wonderful gift for any occasion, like Valentine’s Day.

Fran covers so much ground. Everything you ever wanted to know about vegan baking and making delectable vegan desserts is here. Vegan Chocolate has all of that and it’s entertaining as well. I love how Fran weaves in stories about the recipes, as you’ll see in the Black Bottom Cupcake recipe below. This book has charm and elegance to spare. Vegan Chocolate Cookbook Giveaway

I don’t know about you but I am always so excited to share delicious vegan foods. So many people are surprised that all these treats can be made without dairy and eggs and be not only as good as, but better than their non-vegan counterparts.  They are even better for you.

Some of my favorites include the Bittersweet Ganache-Glazed Chocolate Torte to Live For (voted by my friends as the best chocolate cake they ever had), Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles, Chocolate Horchata, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, Magic Cookie Bars, Moon Pies, Eclairs, the Opera Cake, etc. Whipped creams, custard fillings, buttercream frostings, a chocolate ice cream shell are all possible in Chef Fran Costigan’s vegan kitchen, and will be in yours now too.

Fran Costigan and her publishers at Running Press were kind enough to provide me with a review copy and a book for this giveaway.

Even though only one will win the book, we are all winners. I’m sharing one of Fran’s most decadent and delicious dessert recipes, her vegan Black Bottom Cupcakes (see below). Also, if you have any questions for Fran, please note them in the comments section and Fran herself will answer them!

There are many ways to enter to win. Do one or more to increase your chances.

This giveaway ends on 2/3/14 at 12:01am EST and is open to anyone in the U.S. or Canada 18+. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email to claim their prize or a new winner will be drawn. The information you enter is collected by Rafflecopter and viewed by me in order to facilitate this giveaway.

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Black Bottom Cupcakes

Recipe reprinted with permission from VEGAN CHOCOLATE © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Photo credit: Kate Lewis

Fran Costigan's Black Bottom Vegan Cupcake Recipe Photo by Kate Lewis

Fran’s introduction:
Was this long-time favorite, slightly odd-looking icing-free cupcake the result of a mistake? “Oops! I dropped cheesecake batter in the batter in the Devil’s food cupcake batter!” The chocolate-flecked vegan cream cheese bakes into chocolate cupcakes for a treat as yummy, if not yummier, than the dairy version. Since the cake was already dairy- and egg-free in many of the original recipes (a.k.a. accidentally vegan), and nondairy cream cheese spread is easily found in natural food stores and larger supermarkets, creating an actual recipe to follow was literally and figuratively “a piece of cake.” Chocolate chips add flavor to the filling, and chia gel replaces the egg. The resulting bites of heaven fairly beg for a glass of ice- cold nondairy milk or a freshly made espresso (the latter is my choice).

Notes: Keep the “cream cheese” in the refrigerator until ready to use, but do not freeze it. When making the regular-sized cupcakes, the tins will be almost completely full. If you are making minis, go for a maximum of two-thirds full and no more than 11⁄2 teaspoons of filling.

Do not substitute Dutch-process (alkalized cocoa powder) for the non-alkalized cocoa in the recipe.

Makes 12 Standard-Size Cupcakes Or 24 Minis


1 1⁄2 teaspoons / 3 grams ground chia seeds
1 1⁄2 tablespoons / 22.5 ml warm water
8 ounces / 227 grams nondairy cream cheese spread, very cold
9 tablespoons / 56 grams organic confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons / 10 ml pure vanilla extract
2 ounces / 85 grams chocolate chips


1 cup / 129 grams organic all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup / 70 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
3⁄4 cup / 159 grams organic granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup / 50 grams organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 25 grams natural cocoa powder (non-alkalized)
1 teaspoon / 5 grams baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup / 240 ml any nondairy milk
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 90 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil
1 tablespoon / 15 ml apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon / 5 ml chocolate extract (optional)


1. Mix the chia and water and set aside for a couple of minutes. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined. Repeat twice, 5 minutes apart. The chia gel can be made a day ahead and refrigerated in a covered container. Mix before using.

2. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add the chia gel and mix on medium for another 30 seconds until incorporated. Stir the chocolate chips into the filling. Refrigerate in a covered container while you make the cupcakes.


1. Position a rack on the rung just above the center of the oven and preheat to 350 ̊F / 180 ̊C. Lightly oil the top only of a 12-cup cupcake tin to make any bake-overs easier to clean, and line with paper liners that are slightly higher than the cups.

2. Put a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, granulated sugar, whole cane sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt to the strainer. Stir with whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl and whisk to aerate. (If any very small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.

3. In a separate small bowl, mix the nondairy milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and chocolate extract (if using) until thoroughly mixed. Immediately pour into the dry ingredients. Whisk hard until the batter is smooth.

4. Fill the cups close to three-quarters full with batter. Spoon or scoop 3 tablespoons of the filling—but not more—into the center of each cake. The cups will be filled almost to the top. That’s okay.

5. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until the edges of the cakes are firm when lightly tapped and the filling is set. Set the tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes. The filling will collapse into the cakes while they cool. Remove the cupcakes from the tin, and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Serving: I like to serve the cupcakes slightly chilled for the best flavor, but some of my testers liked the cakes best at room temperature. You’ll just have to make two batches and try them each way to decide!

Keeping: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.

Recipe reprinted with permission from VEGAN CHOCOLATE © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

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{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

Kris January 28, 2014 at 11:31 am

love to bake and need all the help I can get, it has been hard baking since going vegan last year.


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 3:48 am

Hi Kris,
That’s great that you went vegan. You certainly don’t need to go without though. I’m excited that you can get back to baking, vegan-style this time. It’s easier than one might think. :) Sharon


Sarah W January 28, 2014 at 11:50 am

I would like to know how to make a vegan cheesecake that looks professional and doesn’t taste sandy


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 3:55 am

Hi Sarah,

You’re in luck, Fran has not one but two cheesecake recipes in her book. There’s a white and dark chocolate cheesecake that is crazy good! I haven’t tried the other yet but it’s the orange-scented chocolate cheesecake.
:) Sharon


Lorien Mahay January 28, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Anything vegan and chocolate is right up my alley!!


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 3:56 am

I’m with you Lorien! :)


Amanda Menard January 28, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Vegan flan and tres leches cake, would love vegan version :)


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 4:01 am

Hi Amanda,

Those are some great desserts!


Fran Costigan January 29, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Go to Terry Hope Romaro’s cookbook, for flan and tres leche’s cake!
Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet
She’s really good!
As you like flan, I’ll encourage you to try the Mocha Cream Brulee in Vegan Chocolate. OMGosh good and creamy.



Hannah Ballou January 28, 2014 at 6:19 pm

My favorite dessert is probably creme brûlée. So good! Have yet to find a great vegan version!


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 4:02 am

Hi Hannah, Fran has a creme brûlée recipe in Vegan Chocolate! :)


Fran Costigan January 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Oh yes! Mocha Creme Brûlée. As much fun to make as to eat. You can leave out the coffee if you don’t like mocha!


Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul January 28, 2014 at 9:22 pm

What an awesome giveaway! I gave the book to my boyfriend’s mom for Christmas. Every page is gorgeous, and drool-worthy. My favorite dessert is, of course, chocolate. I make my own raw chocolate about once a week. Also, I love sweet potato cupcakes, thumbprint cookies, banana brownies and the tiramisu from Peacefood Cafe! xo


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 4:05 am

Thanks Jenné, Miss Sweet Potato Soul! Curious to learn about how you make your raw vegan chocolate. I’m wishing I had all those desserts you mentioned right now on a dessert buffet. That Tiramisu from Peacefood is quite delish! :)


sarah January 29, 2014 at 12:34 am

nothing beats good ole icecream :)


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 4:06 am

So true Sarah! :)


Fran Costigan January 29, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Nothing beats an entire chapter of vegan Ice creams so impossibly creamy and good! Well maybe the toppings including the Magic Chocolate Shell.. Fudge Sauce, you know. Build a sundae!


Michele January 29, 2014 at 12:46 am

I’d love to win this for my vega grandchildren…cupcakes are their favorite food group!


Michele January 29, 2014 at 12:47 am

and maybe it will help me spell VEGAN properly!


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 4:08 am

Hi Michele,

You’re making me laugh! I like the way your vega grandkids think.
:) Sharon


Fran Costigan January 29, 2014 at 9:25 pm

My grandchildren (daughter has two sons and son has two daughters!) love that I am “Cupcake Grandma GFran. That’s what they decided anyway. They make and eat the cakes and serve them at birthday parties too. The littlest ones tell people, you can only eat the batter in Gfran’s books. Pretty smart 2 and 4 year olds. Good luck!


Andrea January 29, 2014 at 2:14 am

I would love to have a copy of Fran’s latest book! When I think of dessert, I usually think of chocolate.


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 4:11 am

Hi Andrea,

Clearly, this book is for you! You and Fran have a lot in common.
:) Sharon


Fran Costigan January 29, 2014 at 9:26 pm



Michaela January 29, 2014 at 2:31 am

I love Tiramisu and Macarons — Would like to know how to veganize both!


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 4:13 am

Hi Michaela, Fran has some Macaroon recipes in Vegan Chocolate. I’m a huge fan myself. :)


Fran Costigan January 29, 2014 at 9:27 pm

You could so easily figure out Tiramisu using the base recipe/ Mocha Creme Brûlée. Just saying.


Sharanya January 29, 2014 at 3:50 am

Would love to veganize tiramisu


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 29, 2014 at 4:24 am

Hi Sharanya, love tiramisu too!


Lydia Claire January 29, 2014 at 9:14 am

Cake with lots of frosting is my favorite dessert and I really want to know how to veganize Swedish Princess Cake!


Fran Costigan February 1, 2014 at 2:37 am

Hi Lydia,
That’s one cake I do not know. I’ll be googling it though. There is plenty of frosting in Vegan Chocolate to slather on cakes!



Kelly G. January 29, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Favorite dessert? That’s tough! I love everything cookie- and ice-cream related, so I’ll say….a marzipan ice cream sundae sprinkled with bits of chocolate Newman Os cookies!


Gail Davis January 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm

My favorite vegan dessert memory is the first time I tasted Fran’s Chocolate Cake to Live For. I thought I’d died and gone to vegan heaven. As a true chocoholic, I would just love to win her newest book!


Fran Costigan January 29, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Oh Gail,
I’m sending you good luck vibes. Chocolate and friends rule!


Terri Cole January 29, 2014 at 7:45 pm

My favorite dessert (and one I haven’t tried to make since becoming vegan) is old-fashioned bread pudding, with caramel sauce, like Grandma used to make.


Fran Costigan January 29, 2014 at 9:29 pm

There’s a creamy good Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding in Vegan Chocolate and a New Orleans Bread Pudding in More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally. Try them both. My grandma would’ve liked these!


Fran Costigan January 29, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Thank you MizzB!


MizzB January 29, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Recipe looks as good as those in Fran’s other books!


Fran Costigan February 1, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Thanks MizzB
Tell you what! This recipe is amazing good. I served mini verisions of the black bottom cups at several book signigs. Swoons ensued!



Susan January 29, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Nothing beats chocolate cake and the one on the cover is so awesome!


Fran Costigan January 30, 2014 at 1:02 am

I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. The cover cake is a Sacher Torte. It’s the cake I make in the Book Trailer ( ). Anyway, the video was filmed in LA where my granddaughter’s live. Their parents happen to be filmmakers.. But I digress. So many of these cakes were made during the filming. The 6 year old insisted that was the cake she wanted for her birthday party the following weekend. I wondered about this cake for 6 year olds. Well, they 4x the recipe, which was made by a non believing Egg-Butter-White Sugar person. The baker/ friend was convinced and the kdis ate every piece of cake. The End!! :)


catie January 30, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I like chocolate and almond butter. I like desserts that are vegan and I don’t have to feel guilty about eating


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 31, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Catie, Many of Fran’s desserts fall into that category. She might have more to add. We’ll see if we can get her in on this conversation. I actually have a dessert that takes no time at all. It’s not all that sophisticated a.k.a. old school. I made it with peanut butter, but you can totally substitute with almond butter for a fast and easy chocolate treat. If you temper the chocolate first, which I didn’t do here but learned how to do from Fran, you’ll have a better result but even this way does the trick. Here’s the link to my Chocolate Peanut Butter Perogies :) Sharon


Fran Costigan February 1, 2014 at 2:45 am

Oh yes, I just made Hazelnut butter based “nutella” from Vegan Chocolate tonight. You could use almond butter instead or peanut butter…



Lori M-C January 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm

My favorite dessert is anything chocolate pretty much. I enjoy making donuts for the parties we go to.


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 31, 2014 at 4:32 am

Hi Lori,

Wow, donuts! That’s impressive. Now I want your recipe! :)


misty westfall January 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm

I would love to try upside down pineapple cake vegan. My mom used to make it all the time, but not vegan.


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 31, 2014 at 4:34 am

Hi Misty, Me too. My aunt always made pineapple upside down cake. Would be great veganized with a scoop of vegan ice cream. :)


Fran Costigan February 2, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Misty, I think the Big Orange Bundt cake in my previous book, More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally, recipe halved, would make a fanasitc pinepple unside down cake. Getting rid of the butter and brown sugar in the pinepple part is nothing at all. Or for a chocolate version of Pineapple Upside Down Cake, use the Brooklyn Black Out Layer. You’ve got me thinking!



Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan February 3, 2014 at 4:32 am

That’s so great that those recipes could easily transform into pinapple upside down cake. Thanks Fran and Misty for the inspiration! Perhaps we’ll see this recipe in Fran’s next book. :)


Bill January 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm

I think one of the easiest ways to get folks to move towards veganism is by showing them that they need not sacrifice flavor and fun. What better way to do that than with recipes like this.


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 31, 2014 at 4:40 am

Absolutely Bill! Agreed, a thousand times over! So true. I like that you said ‘fun’ too. When I say I’m vegan often the first reaction is, “that must be so hard.” That pretty much says it all, no fun. But we know better. Just gotta keep on sharing in a caring, loving way and perceptions will change by giving people that experience. :)


Fran Costigan February 1, 2014 at 2:44 am

Bill and Sharon,
I couldnt’ agree more. I eat green and clean but desserts are a great way to move people at least into the conversation. They are often just so worried that they’ll be deprived or that, especially with desserts, the taste will be weird. We know that is not so. Omni’s are among my biggest supporters!

Take care,
Have fun


Donna B! January 30, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Favorite dessert is any kind of summer fruit vegan crisp. Veganized version of lady fingers cookies would be divine. So grateful for Fran’s work in the world…


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 31, 2014 at 4:42 am

That sounds lovely Donna! And anything that conjures up Summer is a wonderful thought about now. Here in NYC it’s been ridiculously cold. Luckily, Fran’s many hot chocolate drink recipes can keep us warm.


Fran Costigan February 1, 2014 at 2:42 am

Thank you so much Donna,
You will find wonderful fruit crisps for all seasons in my previous book, More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally.



Amanda Crow January 30, 2014 at 9:46 pm

I LOVE Fran! And I really want to take her vegan dessert bootcamp, but I haven’t found the money yet! This cookbook might be my best option for now!


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 31, 2014 at 4:47 am

Hi Amanda, I hope you can get to Fran’s bootcamp soon. Her cookbook is a veritable course in vegan baking and making amazing vegan treats of all kinds. It’s comprehensive in scope so I think you will devour it in the best way possible and learn so much. Fran truly is a gem, a national treasure one could say…and I did. That’s right, I said it! :)


Fran Costigan February 1, 2014 at 2:39 am

Hi Amanda,
I love you back! I hope some time you can take the Costigan Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive. The Feb session is starting in 2 weeks and the next one is Aug. In the meantime, Vegan Chocolate and More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts (boot is based on this book) will be very good options.
Just go into the kitchen and make some desserts. (But eat your veggies first!)



Angie January 31, 2014 at 12:34 am

I absolutely love a big vegan turtle brownie. The chocolate, the caramel, the nuts! Yes please! I don’t bake my own (slacker) but I buy them from Beet Box on Denver and they are TO DIE FOR!


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 31, 2014 at 4:53 am

Hi Angie, maybe if you have Fran’s book, you’ll get inspired. Please tell me more about this Beet Box on Denver! Sounds amazing! Fran has some brownie recipes in Vegan Chocolate. There’s one also in her first book that is fantastic and low fat. This blog post and everyone’s comments are getting me very hungry for some delicious desserts. :)


Fran Costigan February 1, 2014 at 2:41 am

Listen to smart Sharon.
The brownies in Vegan Chocolate are crazy good and just so easy, I bet it’s easier than going to the store.
TO LIVE FOR these!



Shylah Cushman January 31, 2014 at 1:59 am

I would love a vegan recipe for plain cheesecake that tastes like the non vegan version.


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan January 31, 2014 at 4:57 am

Hi Shylah, I’m with you, love a good vegan cheesecake. Fran has a cheesecake recipe in Vegan Chocolate that is SO good. :)


Kelly M February 2, 2014 at 11:18 am

Thanks Fran for all your work! I’m wondering if using applesauce instead if oil would work in this recipe?

It does look delicious and I can’t wait to try it!


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan February 3, 2014 at 4:43 am

Great question Kelly! I’m often trying to reduce oil in recipes. I’ve learned a lot from Fran about that. See her comments here. I’ve had success in some recipes by using half the oil called for and making up the difference with applesauce so there is some fat still. What I love about Fran’s recipes in that she doesn’t use more fat or sugar than is necessary. She hits the sweet spot, balancing all the elements to perfection, without sacrificing taste, texture, etc. Take to heart what she says about testing. I’d add to that, make only one alteration at a time and try to modify slowly, like the 50/50 ratio oil/applesauce vs. getting rid of all the oil at once. I hope this helps! Happy baking and let us know how it goes! :) Sharon


Ashley February 2, 2014 at 7:38 pm

I love vegan cheesecake and donuts!


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan February 3, 2014 at 4:23 am

Hi Ashley,

Love vegan cheesecake and donuts! In Brooklyn, there’s Dunwell Donuts and they make the best donuts ever. Fran has cheesecake recipes. :)


Sarah Felder February 2, 2014 at 9:05 pm

These look delicious! I can cook well, but baking is another story for me. I would trust you two to make something even I couldn’t mess up. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan February 3, 2014 at 5:02 am

Hi Sarah! You can totally build your baking skills with Fran’s book. She gives you soup to nuts on everything vegan baking so you can just straight forward follow a recipe or delve more into the processes, ingredients, etc. Each recipe is a stand alone so you can just pick one and go for it. Let us know how it goes! :) Sharon


Sarah Felder February 2, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Guess I should have read more carefully. The dessert I miss most is creme brulee and would love a few different flavored versions as well. Maybe something really different like with lavender but not too sweet.


Fran Costigan February 2, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Sarah, there are people who swear by applesauce to replace oil. I think the texture suffers. So I’d rather have a smaller piece of something excellent. And with no oil bakikng, truthfully, you need to use 3-4-5 x as much sugar. But each to his own. I do have one no-oil added version of the Chocolate Torte to Live For in the book. My advice is to make half recipe as a test. Make a few cupcakes, for example instead of a layer. Then see how you like it. We do this kind of testing in the Costign Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive® Good luck!


Fran Costigan February 2, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Opps this reply was meant for KELLY M. Sarah, you can bake with this book. Right Sharon?


Carol February 3, 2014 at 4:58 am

anything chocolate is always good


Sharon Nazarian - Big City Vegan February 3, 2014 at 5:03 am

I’m with you Carol!


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