Navigating holiday cookie parties and baked-goods-heavy gatherings under the constraints of a vegan diet may seem a daunting prospect. But there’s one fail-proof way to ensure you won’t find yourself famished on the party circuit—bring (and contribute!) your own vegan-friendly offerings.
For advice on navigating the season, we’ve enlisted the help of vegan big-leaguer Fran Costigan. Below, Costigan, vegan pastry chef and author of Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, shares with us her must-have pantry staples for vegan baking, diet tips for new vegans and three sinfully delicious dessert recipes from her new book.
Stocking the Pantry
If you’re serious about a foray into vegan holiday baking—or if you’re preparing to host a vegan for the holidays—you’ll want to start by stocking your pantry. With the following on hand, you’ll be ready to bake almost anything.
Fran’s Vegan Baking Staples:
- Organic all-purpose and whole-wheat pastry flours
- Organic, ethical sweeteners, both granulated and liquid
- Organic granulated sugar and whole cane sugar (like Sucanat) and coconut sugar
- Grade B or dark amber maple syrup
- Small jars of agave, brown rice, molasses and sorghum syrups
- Baking soda and aluminum-free baking powder
- Fine sea salt and a variety of flaked sea salts
- Pure vanilla extract and chocolate extract
- Citrus oils [by Boyajin]
- Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil [by California Olive Ranch]
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Dutch-process and natural cocoa powders
- High-percentage chocolates (70 to 72% are Fran’s all-purpose chocolates)
- Good quality chocolate chips
- Nondairy milks such as almond, soy and coconut milk beverage
- Canned coconut milk
New to the vegan game?
Look to these tips from Costigan for vegan-spiration to keep you motivated (and well fed).
Fran Costigan’s Diet Tips for New Vegans:
- Eat a variety of the “real foods,” many of which are likely already part of your diet. For example, oatmeal, bean and soups, and chili are easy to “veganize,” and fruits and vegetables are vegan.
- Vary your foods seasonally, and eat a rainbow of colors.
- Season food to your taste.
- Focus on the abundance of plant food, instead of what you are not eating. A well-balanced, whole foods, plant based diet is full of flavorful foods. It is most definitely not a diet of deprivation.
- I tell my students and readers to eat “green and clean”—and, of course, save room for an unapologetically luscious and decadent dairy-free dessert.
For more of Costigan’s baking specific tips, see her Essential Holiday Baking Guide. For her recipes, see below.