By Brack Johnson
Nothing beats the lure of something deep, dark and delicious. It's even better if you use your own hands to make the chocolate goody.
These recipes from recent cookbooks are filled with lots of love.
What to Bake & How to Bake It
For the pastry
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
A pinch of salt
3/4 stick (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) butter, plus extra for greasing
1 cup water
For the chocolate sauce
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 60%-70% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
A pinch of salt
For the filling
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
For the pastry, first sift the flour, sugar and salt together onto a piece of parchment paper.
Put the butter and water in a medium pan. Heat over fairly low heat until the butter has completely melted. Once melted, increase the heat and bring the water to a rolling boil.
With the pan still on the stove, and using the parchment paper like a chute, quickly pour the flour mixture into the pan, then grab a wooden spoon and start mixing vigorously. Turn off the heat.
It will seem weirdly lumpy at first, but keep beating. You need to add the flour soon after the water comes to a boil, to avoid letting too much evaporate.
After a short period of beating, the lumpy batter will transform into a shiny, thick smooth paste that comes away cleanly from the edge of the pan. Stop beating.
Spoon the paste onto a cold plate and spread it out with the wooden spoon. This helps to cool it quickly. When it's barely warm to the touch, move on to the next step.
Beat the eggs together in a measuring cup. Put the paste in a large bowl, then add the egg in small additions, beating until fully incorporated each time. The paste will get stiffer, then looser. You can do this with an electric mixer if you prefer.
Stop adding egg when the mixture is smooth and silky, and falls in a smooth dollop from the spoon when shaken sharply. The paste can be chilled for up to a day at this point.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon 18 heaping teaspoons of pastry onto the sheets, aiming for walnut-sized balls.
If you want to be neat, pipe the pastry onto the sheets using a 1/2-inch tip and a large pastry bag. Smooth any points with a wet finger.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees then turn the oven down to 400 degrees and cook for 20 minutes, or until very crisp and golden brown.
The pastry should hardly give at all when gently squeezed.
It's best to bake in batches, but if you need to, bake 2 sheets at a time. Don't open the oven door to turn the sheets around until the pastry has risen well and is changing color, or they will deflate.
Once cooked, cut each profiterole crosswise, but not all the way through, then bake for 5 minutes more. This lets the steam out from the centers and will help keep the pastry crisper for longer. Remove and let cool.
To make the sauce, chop the chocolate. Bring the cream and milk to a simmer, add the chocolate, vanilla and salt, then remove from the heat and stir until smooth and silky. It can be made ahead and warmed gently when ready to serve.
Profiteroles are best filled shortly before serving, but you can fill 2 hours ahead and store them in the fridge. Put the cream, sugar and vanilla
in a large bowl and whip until thickened, but not stiff. Spoon it generously into the cold profiteroles.
Pour the warm chocolate sauce over them to serve.
Makes 18 profiteroles.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
1-3/4 sticks (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) butter, plus extra for greasing
1 cup skinned hazelnuts
1 packed cup light brown sugar
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
2 tablespoons fresh espresso or 1 tablespoon instant espresso mixed with 2 tablespoons just-boiled water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 eggs, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, for dusting
Generously grease a 9-inch round springform pan with butter, then line the base with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put the nuts in a food processor with 1 tablespoon of the sugar, then process until finely ground. If using almond meal, skip this step and add the sugar later on.
Break the chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl and add the butter, coffee and vanilla. Melt together gently, either set over a pan of barely simmering water, or in the microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside.
Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add the rest of the sugar, then whisk for 5 minutes with an electric mixer until thick, mousse-like and doubled in volume.
Pour the melted chocolate around the edge of the bowl. (This prevents it from knocking too much air out of the foam.) Using a large metal spoon, fold the chocolate in. It might take longer than you expect to get the batter to an almost even brown, and before little ribbons of chocolate stop appearing.
Sprinkle the ground nuts and salt into the bowl, then fold them in until evenly blended. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Preserving the air is the name of the game.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 35 minutes, or until the cake has risen and is set on top, with a just-perceptible wobble underneath the papery crust when you jiggle the pan. Put the pan on a cooling rack as it cools. The torte will sink and crack a little, which is fine.
If serving the cake cold, it's easy to transfer it to a plate; just unclip the sides of the pan and use an icing spatula to loosen the cake and its lining paper away from the base. To serve warm, leave it in the pan, as the cake is quite delicate.
Put the cocoa in a fine-mesh sieve and give the cake a good dusting. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream and some berries if you like.
The cake can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in a cool place. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
Makes 12 servings.
Sally's Baking Addiction
Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes & Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix
Pretzel Peanut Butter Cups
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
20 ounces coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate, such as Baker's brand
1 teaspoon shortening
Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
Using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the peanut butter and butter together in a medium bowl on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and confectioners' sugar. Beat until combined and smooth. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Melt the chocolate and shortening together in a medium microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments until melted, stirring well after each increment. Allow the chocolate to settle evenly inside; bang the muffin pan against the counter a few times.
Spoon 2 heaping teaspoons of the peanut butter mixture on top of the chocolate. Bang the pan on the counter or spread with a knife.
If you want a traditional-looking peanut butter cup, in which the peanut butter layer isn't exposed on the sides, don't allow the peanut butter to reach the edges of the cup.
Spoon the remaining chocolate evenly on top of the peanut butter. Once again, bang the pan on the counter until the tops are smooth.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Cups stay fresh stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Makes 12 cups.
White Chocolate Swirl Bark
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, such as Baker's brand
10 ounces white baking chocolate
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate separately in two microwave-safe bowls or glass measuring cups in 20-second increments until melted, stirring well after each increment. (White chocolate will seize quicker than semi-sweet chocolate, so be sure to watch it very carefully.)
Pour the semi-sweet chocolate into an even layer on top of the prepared cookie sheet. Top with the white chocolate. Gently swirl with a sharp knife or toothpick.
Top with dried cranberries and pistachios.
Chill until set, about 10 minutes. Break into pieces.
Keep the bark in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 7 days.
100 Dough-licious Recipes
Carol Beckerman and Dawn Otwell
Drizzled With Caramel and Dark Chocolate
For the doughnuts
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/3 cup whole milk
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
For the glaze
2-1/2 tablespoons whole milk
3 tablespoons salted butter
1-1/2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
For the decoration
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the brown sugar, white sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the egg a little at a time, and continue whisking until incorporated. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk until well mixed. The mixture will be quite sticky. Cover and refrigerate for 2-24 hours.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a 3/8-inch thickness. Using a 1-1/2-inch doughnut cutter, cut out 18 doughnuts, rerolling the dough as necessary.
Heat the oil in a heavy, large pan to 360 degrees. Fry the doughnuts in batches for just over 1 minute on each side, remove and drain on paper towels. Cool on a wire rack.
Make the glaze. In a small pan, warm the milk and butter. In a separate pan over medium heat, cook the sugar for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it becomes caramel. Add milk mixture and stir over a gentle heat until caramel has dissolved.
Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is the perfect consistency for dipping. Keep over low heat and stir occasionally to keep it runny.
In a large skillet, toast the flaked coconut over medium heat until mostly light golden brown.
Dip the top of each doughnut in the glaze, set on the wire rack, and sprinkle with the coconut flakes. Using a disposable pastry bag or a plastic bag with the corner cut off, drizzle the melted chocolate back and forth over the doughnuts to decorate. Serve immediately.
For the doughnuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup whole milk
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
For the decoration and dipping sauce
Powdered sugar for dusting
2 cups milk chocolate chips (optional)
Heat the oil in a heavy, large pan to 360 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, ricotta, mascarpone and milk. Set the pan over low heat and whisk continually. The dough will be wet and will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. This takes around 4 minutes.
With a tablespoon, scoop spoonfuls of the warm dough and drop a few at a time in the hot oil. Fry until golden brown (3 minutes) and then flip to cook 2-1/2 minutes on the other side.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain and cool slightly. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Make a dipping sauce, if desired. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 30-second intervals until half of the chips are melted. Remove from microwave and stir. Place in a bowl and serve with the warm zeppole.
Confections & Baked Treats From the Acclaimed ChocolatierFritz Knipschildt with Mary Goodbody
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
European-Style Hot Chocolate
8 cups whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups sweetened whipped cream, for garnish, optional
10 to 12 standard-size marshmallows, for garnish, optional
In a large saucepan, bring the milk, cream and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. When the mixture boils, immediately remove from the heat.
Add the chocolate to the hot milk mixture, whisking until the chocolate melts and the hot chocolate is smooth. Whisk in the vanilla.
Pour the hot chocolate into mugs and garnish with dollops of whipped cream or marshmallows, if using. Serve immediately.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
2 ounces (1/4 cup) European-Style
Hot Chocolate (recipe above), chilled
2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream
2 ounces vodka
4 to 5 ice cubes
Pour the chilled hot chocolate, Baileys and vodka into a cocktail shaker. Add the ice and shake vigorously.
Pour the iced martini through a strainer into a martini glass and serve.
Makes 1 serving.