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May 6th, 2015 | By Alicia Silverstone

 Today Fran Costigan is sharing her insane looking Bittersweet Ganache Glazed Chocolate Torte recipe from her book Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts !!! This recipe looks like a fun one for Mother’s Day! If you try it, share how delicious it is in the comments below!

Bittersweet Ganache Glazed Chocolate Torte to Live For 

by Fran Costigan

Twenty-two years ago or so, I was working as a pastry chef in a traditional (Ie: butter, egg, white sugar) kitchen. I was not ill but I was not feeling well at all. I knew I had to stop doing the work I loved. I happened to pick up a copy of Food and Healing, by Dr. Ann Marie Colbin and gave up all meat, dairy and white sugar overnight. I didn’t know any vegans then but I was following what I later learned to be whole foods, seasonal macrobiotic diet. I felt so good virtually overnight that I never looked back and I certainly never felt deprived. I loved the food. My digestion, energy and weight stabilized. Of course, once consciousness is raised, the other reasons for a vegan diet, among them helping the animals and the environment became paramount to me. I was not seeing myself specializing in desserts but my preteen son said, “mom you can’t put a candle in a sweet potato and tell me that’s my birthday cake.” I knew Michael had a point, that we who are vegan have celebrations too. I hit the test kitchen until I perfected a cake that was excellent, made without refined sugar, with some whole grain goodness that just happened to be vegan. That Chocolate Cake to Live For was my breakthrough cake. I eat green and clean to this day and feel great. Desserts are a treat. As I say, Chocolate is a bean but it is not a salad!

The name for this cake dates back over twenty years to the day I was sure I had cracked the code for the perfect chocolate cake that was also vegan. I invited three friends over (non-vegan, as it happened) to taste the cake with me. After a big forkful each, we stopped, looked at each other, and said almost in unison, “Now this is a cake worth living for!” At least that is how I remember it. Since then, this has become my signature cake and remains the one most discussed, requested, Google-searched, praised, and served of all my cakes. A “tinkerer” by nature, I have changed little bits of the recipe over the years, using a little less nondairy milk and substituting mild extra-virgin olive oil for the organic canola oil but either is fine, as is melted coconut oil.

Note: I like single layer cakes—or tortes, but this recipe is easily doubled if you want to make a lauer cake. Just divide the batter between two pans and follow the instructions for cooling and chilling the layers. Make a double recipe of the Ganache Glaze too. Wait until the glaze is thickened enough to spread and then fill and frost the cake.

Makes One (9-Inch / 23-Cm) Torte, 8 To 10 Servings

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Torte


1/2 cup / 70 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup / 64 grams organic all-purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 31 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 cup / 50 grams organic granulated sugar, ground in a blender

1 teaspoon / 5 grams aluminum-free baking powder

1 teaspoon / 5 grams baking soda

1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 grams fine sea salt

1/4 cup / 60 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil

1/2 cup / 120 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 210 ml any nondairy milk

1 1/2 teaspoons / 7.5 ml pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)

1 teaspoon / 5 ml apple cider vinegar


  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F / 180°C. Oil the sides and bottom of the cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment circle or paper cut to fit. Do not oil the paper.
  2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the strainer and stir with a whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. (If any small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.
  3. Whisk the oil, maple syrup, nondairy milk, vanilla, chocolate extract (if using), and vinegar in a separate medium bowl until completely combined. Immediately pour into the dry mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into pan. Rotate the pan to level the batter and tap it lightly on the counter to get rid of some of the air bubbles.
  4. Bake the cake on the center rack for 28 to 32 minutes, or until the top of the cake is set, the sides have started to pull away from the pan, and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
  5. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Run a thin spatula around the sides of the cake to release the sides of the cake from the pan. Invert the layer onto the rack, remove the pan, and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Invert again, topside up on the rack, to cool completely. When the cake is completely cool, slide a cardboard circle or a flat plate underneath. Cover the cake tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold before glazing.

Variation: Gluten-Free Chocolate Torte to Live For:

Replace the pastry and all-purpose flours with 1 cup of all-purpose gluten-free baking mix.

(I recommend Bob’s Red Mill.) If your gluten-free mix does not contain xanthan or guar gum, add 3 ⁄8 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum to the dry ingredients. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes.


Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Makes 2 cups/ 480ml


8 ounces / 227 grams dark chocolate (70 to 72%), finely chopped

11⁄4 cups / 300 ml organic almond milk, soymilk or coconut milk beverage (more as needed to adjust consistency)

2 tablespoons / 18 grams organic granulated sugar

Pinch fine sea salt

11⁄4 teaspoons / 6.25 ml pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons / 10 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set aside while you heat the milk.
  2. Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking a few times to a low boil.
  3. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the hot milk over the chopped chocolate all at once. Rotate the bowl so the chocolate is completely submerged. Cover the bowl with a plate and let stand undisturbed for 4 minutes.
  4. Add the vanilla and olive oil and whisk from the center out only until smooth and glossy.
  5. Keep the bowl of ganache at room temperature while you test the final consistency. 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 should 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.
  6. Pass the ganache through a strainer into a bowl. Whisking slowly will speed the process.
  7. Allow the ganache to thicken at room temperature for 15 to 25 minutes, or until it will coat a spoon thickly with minimal dripping, but remain pourable. Stir a few times from the outside into the center before glazing.


  • The glaze can be refrigerated in a tightly closed container for up to five days and frozen for up to one month.
  • The glaze hardens when it is cold and will need to be reheated. To reheat, spoon the glaze into a heatproof bowl that fits over a saucepan of barely simmering water. When about two-thirds of the glaze is melted, stir gently until it is smooth. Adjust the consistency as needed by stirring warm nondairy milk into the glaze a little at a time.

Glazing the Cake

  1. Place the cake on an icing rack set over a parchment-lined baking pan.
  2. Pour slightly less than 1 cup / 240 ml of the Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze into a measuring cup with a spout. Center the cup over the cake and pour the glaze onto center of the cake. Coax the glaze to the edges and down the sides by tilting the baking sheet or using an icing spatula. Use the spatula to spread the glaze onto the sides.
  3. Allow the glaze to set undisturbed for 15 minutes, then refrigerate the cake for 10 minutes.
  4. Refill the measuring cup with another scant cup of the glaze, and add another coating. This time, don’t try to move the glaze around with the spatula after it has been applied. Doing so will mar the finish. But extra glaze drizzled freeform on the cake looks great and hides any problems. Refrigerate to set the glaze. You can also, simply let the glaze thicken and spread it over the top and sides of the cake.


For the neatest slices, cut the cake while it is cold but serve at room temperature.



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