Nothing says Valentine’s Day like a rich and decadent chocolate dessert, so we took an unofficial office poll to round up our all-time favorite chocolate recipes. Here are our top three (in no particular order). Enjoy!
1. Grand Marnier Truffles
Serves: Makes 24 (1-inch round) truffles
- 1 pound semisweet chocolate
- ¾ cup (6 ounces) heavy cream
- ¼cup (2 ounces) light corn syrup
- Zest of 2 oranges
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼cup (2 ounces) Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
- ½ teaspoon pure orange oil
- 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
To prepare ganache, place semisweet chocolate in a large heatproof mixing bowl. Set aside. Combine heavy cream, corn syrup, and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Immediately pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer over chocolate. Stir chocolate mixture with a silicone spatula until thoroughly combined and shiny. Stir in butter, Grand Marnier, and orange oil. Pour mixture into a shallow baking dish or a small rimmed baking sheet and chill overnight.
Use a melon ball scoop warmed briefly in hot water to scoop balls of ganache. Take care to thoroughly wipe off all excess water from the scoop to avoid adding water to the ganache. Quickly roll ganache between your palms to form the truffles into a ball. Place a small amount of melted bittersweet chocolate in the center of your palm and roll truffle to coat. Roll the coated truffle onto a parchment-lined sheet tray. Once the chocolate sets, coat the truffles a second time. Repeat process with remaining truffles.
These rich bites get a double dose of chocolate from semisweet and bittersweet varieties. Make the ganache for the centers of the truffles the day before to allow the mixture to chill and set properly. Finished truffles can be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for 1 to 2 days.
Tested and perfected in the Sur la Table kitchen
2. Duo-Tone Chocolate Pots de Crème
Milk Chocolate is often overlooked in the quest for the newest and darkest offerings, but it’s still a favorite—with kids and adults alike. Its presence is a surprise in this recipe, as the luscious milk chocolate custard is hidden under a thin layer of warm chocolate ganache. So although the spoon dips into a dark surface, it comes out with a lighter custard full of the malty, caramel-like qualities of milk chocolate. The interplay of cool, milky sweetness against warm, dark richness is sublime.
Serves: Makes 6 servings
- 7 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 large egg
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1¼ cups heavy whipping cream
- 1¼ cups whole milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1½ ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (up to 64 percent cacao)
- 5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Softly Whipped Cream and milk or dark chocolate curls for serving
Preheat the oven to 325°F and position an oven rack in the center.
Make the custard: Place the chopped chocolate in the medium bowl. Combine the egg and egg yolks in the small bowl. Heat the cream, milk, and sugar in the medium saucepan over medium heat until just before the mixture boils. Immediately pour it over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 1 minute, then whisk gently but thoroughly to completely blend the mixture. Add the whole egg and yolks, whisking to incorporate thoroughly.
Strain and bake the custard: Pour the custard through the strainer into the pitcher. Place the custard cups in the large roasting pan, making sure they don’t touch, and divide the warm custard among them. Pull out the oven rack and place the pan on the rack; then remove one of the cups, pour enough hot tap water (not boiling) into that area to come halfway up the sides of the cups, and replace the cup. Cut a piece of foil large enough to fit just inside the edges of the pan, then lay the foil across the top of the cups, making sure it doesn’t touch the custard. You may need to smooth and flatten the foil on the counter if any wrinkles touch the custard. Gently push the rack back into the oven, shut the oven door, and bake the custards for 50 to 60 minutes, just until the edges of the custards are set—there should still be a dime-size liquid area in the very center of the custard (test by gently tapping the side of the pan).
Remove the foil and then the pan from the oven, being careful not to tilt the pan and splash water on top of the custards. Set the pan on a heatproof surface. Use the tongs (or your hand protected by a kitchen towel) to immediately remove the cups from the water bath and place them on a rack to cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Add the ganache layer: Place the chopped semisweet chocolate in the cleaned small bowl. Heat the cream in the small saucepan over medium heat just until it begins to simmer (do not allow the cream to boil and evaporate). Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for 1 minute, then gently stir with the spatula until thoroughly blended and smooth. Spoon a tablespoon of ganache onto the surface of each custard, then gently swirl each cup until the dark chocolate completely covers the custard. (If the ganache seems too thick to spread easily, heat another tablespoon of cream and add it to the mixture).
Serve the custards immediately, while the ganache is still warm, or refrigerate up to 1 hour. As the ganache chills, it begins to harden and pull away from the sides of the cup, losing its silken texture and exposing the custard beneath, thereby spoiling the surprise. Serve each with a spoonful of whipped cream, topped with a scattering of chocolate curls if you like.
by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing
3. Bittersweet Chocolate Souffles with Vanilla Custard Sauce
This is the ultimate dessert soufflé. It delivers dark chocolate in an elegant party dress, and is also the only soufflé that can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and held in the refrigerator before baking. Since the sauce can be made in advance as well, the combination is perfect for entertaining.
Serves: Makes 8 servings
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (up to 70 percent cacao), finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon (½ ounce) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon (½ ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (4 ounces) whole milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder dissolved in ½ teaspoon water
- Pinch of salt
- 3 large eggs, separated, plus
- 1 additional egg white
- ¼ cup (1¾ ounces) granulated sugar
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Vanilla custard sauce or caramel sauce, dark chocolate sauce, or softly whipped cream for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375°F and position an oven rack in the bottom third. Generously butter the soufflé dishes (including the rims), dust them with sugar, and tap out the excess.
Melt the chocolate: Pour 2 inches of water in the bottom of the double boiler and bring to a rolling boil. Off the heat, place the chocolate in the top of the double boiler. Turn the heat off and set the chocolate over the steaming water. Stir occasionally with the spatula until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Leave over the warm water until needed. Alternately, melt the chocolate in the microwave and set aside.
Make the béchamel: Melt the butter in the small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, add the flour, and whisk well to remove any lumps. Return to the heat and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk slowly, whisking constantly to remove any lumps. Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened to the consistency of thin pudding. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Whisk in the espresso powder and pinch of salt. With a clean spatula, scrape the melted chocolate into the large bowl. Add the béchamel sauce and whisk to blend. Whisk in the egg yolks. Cover and keep warm while you whip the egg whites.
Whip the egg whites: In the very clean bowl of the stand mixer, whip the 4 egg whites on medium speed until they form soft peaks. With the mixer running, rain in the granulated sugar and beat until firm peaks form. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl. With a spatula, gently stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate béchamel sauce to lighten the mixture. Fold in the remaining whites just until there are no more streaks of whites.
Fill the dishes and bake: Transfer the soufflé batter to the pastry bag. Pipe the batter into each soufflé dish, filling it to ¼ inch below the rim. Transfer the dishes to the baking sheet. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes (higher percentage chocolates will bake more quickly), until the soufflés are set and firm to the touch in the center. Serve immediately, dusted with confectioners’ sugar and accompanied by individual pitchers of custard sauce.
For an over-the-top dessert, break open the tops of the soufflés and, instead of the custard sauce, pour in caramel sauce and chocolate sauce, then top with generous spoonfuls of whipped cream. Pass additional sauce and cream around the table. Ooh-la-la!
by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing, The Art & Soul of Baking