This book is completely vegan and most recipes contain some whole grain ingredients and less refined sweeteners.
The first chapter - Getting Started - contains helpful information about baking without dairy products and using natural sweeteners. I especially liked the "Tips and Techniques for Making and Baking Desserts" and "A Baker's Dozen Secrets to Successful Desserts." I also like that Costigan recommends using organic ingredients.
The rest of the book is devoted to recipes. I particulary enjoyed the information, advice and tips at the beginning of each section.
- Great Good Gels, Creams, Puddings, and Sauces
- Great Good Cookies, Bars, and Little Bites
- Great Good Cobblers, Crisps, Biscuits, Muffins, and More
- Great Good Cakes, Fillings, Frostings, and Glazes
- Great Good Pies and Tarts
- Great Good Fruit, Beverages, Frozen Desserts, and Confections
For me, the most surprising thing about these recipes was how light they all were - even when I replaced the white sugar with whole wheat. You defintely would never guess the recipes were vegan or healthier than the typical white sugar/white flour, made with dairy desserts.
My only problem - and I have this critism with almost all dessert cookbooks - is that all the recipes were too sweet. I cut down the sweetener by 1/4 to 1/2 in almost everyone. But that is easily done and would not keep me from using this book.
Our favorite recipes were Currant Scones, Oat Sesame Squares, and Coconut Sorbet. Yum!
on February 21, 2006
Fran Costigan has done it again. Her latest cookbook, More Great Good Dairy-free Desserts Naturally, is much more than an update of Great Good Desserts Naturally, her first such book published in 1999. Seven years and five reprints later, Costigan's recipes from working as a consultant in professional kitchens, baking custom cakes for private clients, and teaching at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School and the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC, were compiled for a more
comprehensive dairy- and egg-free dessert cookbook.
The first 23 pages are devoted to listing and defining essential
ingredients and equipment, tips and techniques for making and baking desserts ("Think like a pastry chef: Organize your mise en place"), and a baker's dozen secrets to successful desserts ("Use pure vanilla extract, not vanillin, an artificial flavoring"). Costigan demystifies the "natural sugar" confusion by categorizing granulated sugar into "dark whole," and "light natural," with five pages devoted to natural sweeteners.
There are over two-hundred pages of mouth-watering recipes, including gels, creams, puddings, sauces, cookies, bars, little bites, cobblers, crisps, biscuits, muffins, cakes, fillings, frostings, glazes, pies, tarts, fruit, beverages, frozen desserts, and confections. Costigan's expertise as a pastry chef is captured in her fool-proof, flaky pie crusts and tarts. She painstakingly walks the reader through each step in such a way that you feel you are in her classroom. (I might add that my pie crust turned out perfect!)
New Yorkers will want to try the New York Eggless Cream made with Costigan's incredibly decadent Ultimate Chocolate Sauce, and kids of all ages will go nuts for the Caramel Popcorn Treats. Coconut aficionados will salivate over the Coconut Cloud Layer Cake, a version of which was served at Costigans' sons' wedding. Did someone mention chocolate? There are over 20 chocolate recipes listed in the index, including a unique version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups filled with
peanut butter mousse!
More Great Good Dairy-free Desserts Naturally was well worth the wait. It is a must-have for anyone who enjoys baking, regardless of their experience.
on January 16, 2007
I have been vegan for nearly 9 years and have done quite a bit of baking both in restaurants and at home. This book gave me a clear understanding of the baking process as well as a wide variety of baked goods to prepare. I have to admit the german carob un-chocolate cake is one of the best recipies I've ever used for a cake. Many non-vegan friends never knew the difference and joked that I'd returned to their side. With the recipies in this book you don't have to give up light moist cakes. Thanks Fran. And I can't wait till I have time to take your pastry class in New York!
on December 30, 2006
Who wouldn't love to merge health and dessert? Fran Costigan's extensive culinary experience combined with her desire to have her cake and eat it too, has resulted in too many `healthy' dessert recipes to fit in just one cookbook. More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts is a follow up to her first work, Great Good Desserts Naturally! Though I haven't viewed her first book, I can say that it would be hard to top this second edition.
As someone who absolutely loves to bake I was delighted by the extensive variety of Crisps, Cobblers, Brown Betties, Tarts, Pies, Cakes, Frostings, Cookies, Brownies, Muffins, Quick Breads... really I could go on. I counted approximately 100 recipes, each one dairy free, egg free, and I believe vegan (there is even a honey-free baklava).
Though I am a regular bread and cookie baker, I was particularly intrigued by a few of the not-so common offerings in this book. Several are surprisingly soy-free (and nut-free for that matter), such as the Banana Cream Pudding, the Ultimate Chocolate Sauce and Icing, and the New York Eggless Cream. Of course, the Peanut Butter Mousse in Chocolate Candy Cups is next on my list for sampling (the full color photo really sold me on this one), and it is hard for me to pass up something as unique as Carob Cashew Frosting (also soy-free).
Beyond the recipes themselves, this cookbook is very well organized and structured. The fonts are large, the recipes are well defined, and variations are included throughout. Each chapter opens with a two-page discussion of tips and suggestions, such as "how to make a foolproof flaky pie crust."
Now, I should clarify my use of the word `healthy' when describing this cookbook. Added sugars/sweeteners are used in most of these recipes. However, the author devotes several pages to explaining sweeteners and how to use them. Her recipes include only the most natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, fruit, and molasses, for a more wholesome product. Wherever possible (when it doesn't sacrifice the quality of the end product) whole grain flours are used. Fats, leaveners, thickeners, gels, and starches are all explained in detail, and the healthiest options are noted and used in all of her recipes.
It appears that Fran Costigan's intent is to create delicious desserts that are decadent, but also provide real nutritional value. From my perspective, she has certainly succeeded.
on November 18, 2006
I was so pleased to see that Fran had published a new & improved edition of her first cookbook. While I enjoyed some of the recipes in the first cookbook, it had a lot of jells, drinks etc. I was unhappy with how few cookie, bread & muffin recipes there were. Which is why I was so glad to see that in this new book she has incorporated tons of new recipes for cookies, muffins & breads. All the old ones are in here too. Don't get me wrong the first cookbook was great too, but I found some of the instructions left out or unclear. All of the mistakes have been fixed in this one. The instructions are much more precise & clear. Some delicious additions include recipes for vegan, PB cookies, Chocolate CHip cookies, vanilla wafer, pumpkin bread, banana muffins, and coconut cake!!! I made the coconut frosting last night & frosted the chocolate cake to live for. Amazing!!! The first time around I was uneasy about using any white flour. But, as she explains in the intro, it gives cakes that "cakey" consistency you need. So, now I buy organic unbleached white & feel ok about it, and WOW what a difference. That would be my only advice. These recipes are tried and true. Fran has worked them over and over to perfect them, you can tell... so when she says use half whole wheat, half white, DO IT! She's always right. Can't wait to make some of these goodies for Christmas :)
on February 13, 2007
For my son's 7th birthday he wanted chocolate cupcakes in school. As a mom who makes a living helping parents raise health children, I grabbed "More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally" and made the Chocolate Cake...to live for. Only twist was I bought dinosaur molds and made very cool 3-d dinosaur "cupcakes." You should have seen the faces on the kids in his class when we handed these out -- and then lots of mmmm's and smiles after the first bite! I usually bring in frozen bananas for a healthy, dairy free birthday treat, and although those usually go over great, I know my son was so happy to have a cake option this year.
I have to say this book has turned me back into a cool mom in the eyes of my kids. They can't believe when I ask them if they want to bake something with chocolate as one of the ingredients (I'm usually the fruit smoothie, sorbet, fruit salad dessert maker-- all favorites in our home, but even I enjoy indulging in chocolate!).
Whether your family needs to eat dairy free, or you just prefer it as I do, this book is a must buy!
on May 11, 2006
Since I've changed my eating habits, I've been doing a lot of experimenting and exploring food-wise, and a friend suggested that I try Fran Costigan's book "More great good dairy-free desserts naturally".
Well, I did, and I even went to a local book-signing at which the author (she's really nice, by the way) had dutifully served samples of recipes from her book - nearly all in chocolate. I just as dutifully sampled same, more out of a desire to be polite than anything else, as I was fully expecting a totally bland, maybe even fiber-board, taste experience.
To my great surprise, and pleasure, I was blown away by how absolutely great her various concoctions were - chocolate chip cookies, little frosted chocolate cakes, truffles and even chocolate pudding. For the first time in my life I constructed an all-chocolate meal for myself from the samples: appetizer, entree and dessert. Take it from a former, and reformed, Mallomar junkie, her stuff is fabulous and totally taste-competitive with, and in some cases even better than, the chocolate desserts that I had been used to.
on November 9, 2006
This is probably my favourite vegan desserts cookbook, besides Lickin' the Beaters :) Fran really knows her stuff and everything I've tried from the Unsinful Chocolate Cake to the 24 Carrot Cake to the Lovely Lemon as been supurb. Yeah to lighty fluffy cakes made with maple syrup!
on March 16, 2006
One of the challenges of being a vegan are desserts. Birthday cakes, cupcakes for my child's class picnic, chocolate cake for Sunday supper, etc. Not anymore! Fran's collection of 'sin-sational sumptuous treats' are exacttly that...treats! The colossal chocolate cake with chocolate cream filling and frosting was a HIT as a birthday cake for my daughter's teacher. The vanilla cupcakes went over big time with her school friends and my husband and I loved the famous jam dot cookies with our after dinner coffee. The recipes are easy and delicious! Thanks.
on March 12, 2006
Fran Costigan's desserts are over the top, like the blurb from Candle Cafe owners say on the cover. It does seem crazy they could be healthy too. This woman writes in a style that reminds me of the cookbook author Maida Heater in thoroughness. The recipes look long but this is because the instructions are so clear and include a lot of great tips, like how the batter will look, for example.
Other nondairy, egg-free,vegan or otherwise healthy baking books have been mostly disappointing to me, with careless instructions, or desserts have tasted much too "healthy". I defy anyone to tell the difference between the desserts in this book and any good standard dessert book, except that often Fran's recipes taste better. Try the peanut butter cookies, the carrot cake, the chocolate cake and see what I mean. These desserts will have your family and friends thinking you are a genius. Another good surprise is that these recipes are easy to make. I was able to find all the ingredients in my local markets too.
I bought Fran's first book to give as gifts for holidays, birthdays because I could not keep up with the requests for her Chocolate Cake. Well that is one perfect cake and thank goodness she included it again. This time there is a 3 layer version and some new chocolate creams and glazes. The Coconut Cake is to die and the Spice Cake is incredible. I made the cornbread as pancakes this morning and they were so good that I decided I had to write this review. One more thing, I think anyone who like desserts should own her first book too. The recipes in both are different.