This is a real old-fashioned American chocolate layer cake. It’s very moist, very chocolatey, a snap to make and best baked the day before serving. Marcia Kiesel acquired the recipe from her friend Joyce Cole, who got it from her mother.
This light, silky panna cotta tastes a lot like hot cocoa in custard form. The brittle is easy to make; heat sugar and water on the stove, swirl in butter and spiced pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), then let cool.
This dreamy, creamy dessert started as a simple chocolate pudding made with workaday cocoa. Melissa Rubel Jacobson turned it into a homey, silky pie by adding a quick chocolate crust and vanilla-flavored whipped cream. “But you could still serve just the filling as a pudding,” she says.
Mexican chocolate, which is flavored with ingredients like cinnamon, almonds and vanilla, lends a distinct flavor to Stephanie Prida’s rich custard. Look for it at Mexican markets and specialty-food stores.
Caroline Yeh sells extraordinary candies from small European and American producers. She’s also an excellent home cook and baker with a passion for chocolate. Fragrant with cinnamon, clove, cardamom and ginger, her fondue holds up remarkably well at room temperature, which makes it good for parties—especially when it’s served with gingerbread, apples or shortbread for dunking.
White Chocolate Cake with Orange Marmalade Filling
The filling for this cake calls for orange marmalade, but you can also use seedless raspberry or apricot jam. These would work well with the candied orange peel garnish. Edible flowers would also make a lovely decoration.
By swirling chunks of white, milk and bittersweet chocolate into a batter made with unsweetened chocolate, then melting and drizzling more all over the top, Michael Recchiuti says this sweet has “all the chocolates I like in one brownie.”
The Help’s ending hinges on a secret involving Minny’s famous chocolate pie. Newspaper columnist Lee Ann Flemming, one of the best bakers in Greenwood, made 53 chocolate pies during filming, including 12 vegan and gluten-free versions she prepared in just one day for actress Bryce Dallas Howard. Her fudgy version here is neither vegan nor gluten-free: It’s as classic as it gets. You can make your own crust, but Flemming uses packaged.
The genius of this layer cake is its extraordinarily crunchy filling, made with almonds, salted peanuts, creamy peanut butter, chocolate and Rice Krispies. The silky milk-chocolate ganache frosting almost pushes the recipe over the top.
Dark-Chocolate Bark with Walnuts and Dried Cherries
Not only is dark chocolate full of antioxidants, it is mood enhancing in its own right. This recipe gets an extra boost from walnuts (an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids) and dried cherries (high in fiber and minerals).
In his riff on Black Forest cake, a favorite dessert of his father’s, Hosea Rosenberg tops individual cakes with mascarpone cream instead of whipped cream and luscious brandied cherries instead of jarred.
As if the chocolate-hazelnut spread gianduja isn’t delicious enough straight off the spoon, Grace Parisi has folded in whipped cream and crème fraîche to create a truly decadent (and ridiculously easy) mousse. For a supereasy ice cream sandwich, spoon the mousse between chocolate wafers and freeze overnight.
Although Miamians are assumed to be too bathingsuit conscious to indulge in dessert, this decadent milk chocolate cremoso (a silky pudding-like dish) drizzled with olive oil is a best-seller. “Some people are like, ‘Whoa—olive oil and chocolate?’” says Michael Schwartz. “But the olive oil reinforces the richness of the cremoso. As if you need any more richness.”
This dessert from pastry chef Colleen Grapes, a tribute to the chocolate-covered pretzel, hits just the right salty-sweet note. Grapes mixes crushed pretzels with flour, butter, sugar and egg to make a crunchy crust, pours in a luxurious milk-chocolate filling, then sprinkles on more crushed pretzels as a garnish.
Dark chocolate with a high cacao content is lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants than milk chocolate. For this ingenious snack, Grace Parisi coats wafer—thin crispbreads in dark chocolate so that they seem like candy bars studded with flaky Maldon sea salt, chewy crystallized ginger and candied fennel seeds.
This outrageous chocolate cake was born from a lucky mistake. Pastry chef Kimberly Sklar was baking a crème fraîche-spiked chocolate cake and, by accident, took the pan out of the oven early. Discovering that the cake was superfudgy, she layered it with dark chocolate and white chocolate ganache, then covered it in dark chocolate frosting.
Yigit Pura became intrigued with the idea of coupes—the ice cream-based desserts usually served in a glass of the same name—about five years ago. “They’re so simple and you can layer them with almost anything to create different flavors, textures and even temperatures,” he says. His ultra-chocolaty version combines cocoa nib mousse with chocolate cream and chocolate wafer cookies. The salty hazelnut crumble topping is versatile—Pura recommends using it to replace streusel in just about any dessert.
San Francisco chef Matthew Accarrino of SPQR is a firm believer in making desserts healthy. So instead of loading his custard with cream, he uses just a bit, along with low-fat chocolate milk and silken tofu, for texture. He also opts to include roasted peanuts, which add terrific flavor and a little crunch.