One cannot have enough recipes using chocolate, at least I can’t. I know you are out there, too! So, as promised last week, below are more recipes from “Everything Chocolate: A Decadent Collection of Morning Pastries, Nostalgic Sweets, and Showstopping Desserts,” by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen (2020 America’s Test Kitchen, $35). Now, you can surely get your chocolate fix, and prepare for your valentine.
There are hundreds of quotes about chocolate. The history and facts about the treat are interesting, too. For a complete timeline of facts about chocolate, visit https://bit.ly/383qqc1.
This quote by author Michael Pollan from his book, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” has always stood out in my mind. He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.”
Herman A. Berliner, who wrote the foreword to the book “Chocolate: Food of the Gods,” wrote: “Chocolate knows no boundaries; speaks all languages; comes in all sizes; is woven through many cultures and disciplines. ... It impacts mood, health, and economics, and it is a part of our lives from early childhood through the elderly years.”
Mariska Hargitay, one of my favorite actresses, and of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” fame (Olivia Benson), is quoted in a book I keep on my desk, “Eat the Year: 366 Fun and Fabulous Food Holidays to Celebrate Every Day,” as saying, “Chocolate is the first luxury. It has so many things wrapped up in it: deliciousness in the moment, childhood memories, and that grin-inducing feeling of getting a reward for being good.”
Did you know?
— 98 percent percent of all cocoa is cultivated by just 15 countries.
— 90 percent of the world’s cacao is grown on small family-run farms, no larger than 12 acres.
— It takes almost a full year for a cocoa tree to produce enough pods to make 10 standard-sized Hershey bars.
— Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows cacao beans to produce chocolate.
— 1906: Milton Hershey’s birthplace (Derry Church, Pa.) was renamed Hershey.
— During World War II, M&Ms were exclusively sold to the military. The candies allowed the soldiers to enjoy chocolate without it melting in tropical climates.
— The most expensive chocolate in the world is the “Madeleine” at $2,600 per pound. It was created by Fritz Knipschildt, a chocolatier in Connecticut.
— Research shows the smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which trigger relaxation.
And now, on to the recipes.
For the recipe for chocolate-peanut butter crème brulee, visit https://bit.ly/38aa819.
The headnote says, “Why This Recipe Works: Wine or beer and chocolate pairings have become as popular as cheese pairings, and stout, in particular, tastes great with chocolate — it has notes of chocolate itself, after all. We wanted to take the chocolate off the plate and the beer out of the flight glass and bring the two together in a fine-crumbed, moist, rich chocolate cake enhanced by the slightly bitter, malty, roasted flavors of stout. A Bundt cake seemed like the right choice as it could also be an attractive vehicle for displaying a chocolate-stout glaze, which we knew would boost the flavor of the cake itself. We used both bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder, dissolving them in boiling stout to bloom their flavor. Brown sugar and sour cream both provided moisture and the latter contributed a subtle tang that enlivened the other flavors. Coating the Bundt pan with a paste made from cocoa and melted butter ensured a clean release from the pan’s ridges. We cut some of the heavy cream from the glaze with beer to give our cake a substantial glossy coating with a real hit of stout. We prefer natural cocoa here; Dutch-processed cocoa will result in a compromised rise. When measuring the beer, do not include the foam.”
For the cake, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir 1 tablespoon cocoa and melted butter into a paste in small bowl. Using pastry brush, thoroughly coat interior of 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with paste.
Microwave stout, chocolate, and remaining 3/4 cup cocoa in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 3 minutes. Let chocolate mixture cool for 5 minutes, then whisk in sour cream and vanilla.
Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together in second bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat remaining 12 tablespoons butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with chocolate mixture in 2 additions, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Give batter final stir by hand.
Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet, remove pan, and let cool completely, about 3 hours.
For the glaze, microwave chocolate, cream, and stout in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 3 minutes; let cool for 30 minutes. Drizzle glaze over cake and let set for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serves 12.
The headnote says, “Why This Recipe Works: Chocolate truffles are candy at its most decadent, perfect for a small bite of something sweet after a meal. But making this chocolatier’s specialty is often laborious and messy; we wanted an easier, faster stairway to truffle heaven. To make our truffle base — the ganache — we turned to the microwave. Melting the chocolate and cream in the microwave was foolproof and took only a minute. Adding a pinch of salt to the mix amplified the bittersweet chocolate’s complex flavors. Careful mixing was essential: The ideal utensil is a rubber spatula as it doesn’t incorporate a lot of air the way a whisk does. Some recipes call for cooling the ganache for up to 4 hours before shaping it, but we found that just 45 minutes in the refrigerator was enough time. After portioning out the mixture, another short chill of just 30 minutes was all the ganache needed before being rolled into balls and dusted with cocoa. Wear latex gloves when forming the truffles to keep your hands clean.”
Sift cocoa and sugar through fine-mesh strainer into pie plate. Microwave chocolate, cream, and salt in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally with rubber spatula, until melted and smooth, 2-4 minutes. Stir chocolate mixture until fully combined; transfer to 8 inch square baking dish and refrigerate until set, about 45 minutes.
Using heaping teaspoon measure, scoop chocolate mixture into 24 portions, transfer to large plate, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Roll each truffle between your hands to form uniform balls (balls needn’t be perfect).
Transfer truffles to cocoa mixture and roll to evenly coat. Lightly shake truffles in your hand over pie plate to remove excess coating and transfer to platter. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. (Coated truffles can be refrigerated along with excess cocoa mixture in airtight container for up to 1 week. Shake truffles in your hand to remove excess coating and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.) Makes 24 truffles.
Chocolate-Almond Truffles: Substitute 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and chopped fine, for cocoa mixture coating. Add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract to chocolate mixture before microwaving.
Chocolate-Cinnamon Truffles: Sift 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon with cocoa powder and sugar for coating. Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper to chocolate mixture before microwaving.
Chocolate-Ginger Truffles: Add 2 teaspoons ground ginger to chocolate mixture before microwaving.
Chocolate-Lemon Truffles: Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest to chocolate mixture before microwaving.
The headnote says, “Why This Recipe Works: Incredibly rich and impossibly smooth, flourless chocolate cake is elegant, refined, and universally beloved. But recipes for this intense, deeply chocolate dessert typically require complicated techniques. Our take on this indulgent cake minimizes fuss without sacrificing flavor or texture. We began by gently melting bittersweet chocolate and butter in the microwave before incorporating the remaining ingredients. In the absence of flour, we called on eggs for structure, cornstarch for body, and water for a moist, smooth texture. Vanilla and espresso powder underscored the chocolate flavor and deepened its impact. Ensuring a crack-free surface was as easy as straining and resting the batter before tapping out bubbles that rose to the surface. Baking the cake in a low oven produced a perfectly smooth top. This cake needs to chill for at least 6 hours, so we recommend making it the day before serving. An accurate oven thermometer is essential here. To slice the cake, dip a sharp knife in very hot water and wipe dry before each cut.”
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Microwave chocolate and butter in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 4 minutes. Let chocolate mixture cool for 5 minutes.
Whisk eggs, sugar, water, cornstarch, vanilla, espresso powder, and salt in large bowl until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Whisk in chocolate mixture until smooth and slightly thickened, about 45 seconds. Strain batter through fine-mesh strainer into prepared pan, pressing against strainer with rubber spatula or back of ladle to help batter pass through. Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles; let sit on counter for 10 minutes to allow air bubbles to rise to top. Use tines of fork to gently pop any air bubbles that have risen to surface. Bake until edges are set and center jiggles slightly when cake is shaken gently, 45-50 minutes.
Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes; run thin knife around edge of pan to loosen cake. Let cake cool on rack until barely warm, about 30 minutes. Cover cake tightly with plastic wrap, poke small hole in top, and refrigerate until cold and firmly set, at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. Remove sides of pan and slide thin metal spatula between cake bottom and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto platter. Let cake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Serves 10 to 12.
Dueling Piano Show & Dinner, Feb. 21, doors open at 7 p.m., 4-course prix fixe dinner, Guilford Mooring, 505 Whitfield St., Guilford, $60 plus tax and gratuity. Reservations: 203-458-2921. Menu: https://bit.ly/388ayVP.
Consiglio’s Mystery Dinner Theatre: “Harts a Flutter” Feb. 21, 7 p.m. Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489, $65 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on throughout the evening during a 3-course meal. Cast mingles table to table, dropping clues for a mystery only you can solve. A family reunion goes terribly wrong. Dress in your finest red attire to compete for top prize! Menu at https://bit.ly/2Ge9QKj.
Wild game beer dinner, Feb. 27, 7 p.m., The Hops Co., 77 Sodom Lane, Derby, $80; $70 for mug club members. Each course paired with a Two Roads beer. Menu and tickets at https://bit.ly/39dT7TR.