Top Five O...M...G... part 2

Photo courtesy of Picture-Perfect Meals
This next one may be an obvious choice to you.  It is one of my deep food love affairs, though.  It makes me pause to reflect and savor when I put it on my tongue, not really wanting to bite into it just yet.  The Top Five Desert Island Foods continues with one of my very favorites.

This luscious, brain stimulating, sense over-riding bit of loveliness is the stuff food porn dreams are made of. It can be boldly bright and acidic, sensually dark and smoky, seductively mellow and rich, subtly flavored with fruits, coffee, tea leaves, liqueurs, salt and spices.  It can be a cake, sauce, candy, tart, torte, cookie, drink, pie...the possibilities are endless.  I line up for it no matter what is being done to it. It is my go to for desserts (in my book it doesn't count as dessert unless there is chocolate in it).  It is one of the most sensual foods that I know with a long history of reported aphrodisiac qualities.  Although the scientists all dismiss that, I will gladly volunteer to be wooed with chocolate.

All of the recipes I have listed call for a small amount of coffee.  I have found that there is no better flavor developer in chocolate than coffee.  Liqueurs are all OK and appropriate for many recipes, but nothing beats the intense depth of flavor that coffee brings to chocolate recipes.  It allows many layers of flavor to appear in a dish that otherwise might tend to be one dimensional.  

The first recipe is my absolute very favorite chocolate dessert ANYWHERE.  It is what you really want a dessert to be when you are craving chocolate.  This custard is smooth and intense and creamy at the same time.  Do not fear the custard, friends.  A warm water bath for baking should not send you running for the hills.  You will obsess the first two or three times you make a custard.  After you figure out you are, in fact, not going to scramble the eggs, you start to relax and notice the subtle stages of "tightening up" that custard does.  The caramelized sugar top on this brûlée is this crazy good texture difference that is a party in your mouth and makes the kitchen torch worth it's cost the first time you use it.  Yep.  It's that good.  If you do not own a kitchen torch, feel free to use your acetylene torch (seriously.  Be sure to just use the hottest part of the flame only), do a Chocolate Ganache top to it or eat it naked.  It won't matter.

Chocolate Creme Brûlée

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules (I recommend Starbucks Via) *
8 ounces imported dark chocolate (at least 65%), chopped
3 large egg yolks, beaten
1 large egg, beaten

About 1/3 cup sugar for caramelizing before serving

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Place six 1/2 cup ramekins in baking pan.

In a heavy medium saucepan, bring cream, milk, sugar and coffee to a boil, whisking until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat.  Add chocolate and whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.  Whisk in yolks and egg.

Divide custard evenly among ramekins.  Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake until custards are set around the edges and centers jiggle slightly when shaken, about 45 minutes.

Remove custards from water and cool completely.  Refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.  Before serving, sprinkle the top of each Brûlée evenly with 2 Tbs of sugar each and heat with a kitchen torch until sugar has turned a dark amber and caramelized.

* I should mention that any instant coffee will work, but Starbucks Via is some fabulous intense instant coffee.  I am not generally a big fan of theirs, but this instant powder has a permanent place in my pantry.  If you decide to use it in other recipes, cut the recommended amount in half and add from there.  It overpowers quickly.

The next bit of Chocolate love is the very best hot fudge sauce that you have ever eaten.  Period.  Spoon it on ice cream, brownies, cookies, or... just spoon it in your mouth.  The texture is silky and smooth and it keeps it's great texture even when it puddles in the bowl and becomes cold from the ice cream.

Hot Fudge Sauce
adapted from Gourmet Magazine, February 2004

2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup Dutch Process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-8 ounces imported bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs brewed coffee (or liqueur of choice)

In a heavy saucepan, bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt, and 2 ounces chocolate to a boil over moderate heat.  Reduce heat and cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla, coffee, and remaining chocolate and stir until smooth.  If you have your sassy pants on, feel free to finish the dish with sea salt.  Serve with ice cream...or just a spoon...or pour it into your mouth.  Whatever.

The last recipe is one of my Christmas Cookie standards.  The cookies are the perfect balance between a slightly crunchy edge and this decadent, rich, chewy center.  The Mocha Cream Filling is over the top.  The coffee in it will amp you up while giving you that chocolate fix.  The chocolate cookies are perfect alone also if you prefer them naked.  

    Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mocha Cream Filling
adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2002


1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules (I prefer Starbucks Via)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules (I prefer Starbucks Via)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (about 12 ounces)

For filling:
Stir chocolate chips, cream, and coffee granules in heavy saucepan over medium heat until chocolate melts and coffee dissolves. Cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and vanilla in bowl until blended. Beat in chocolate mixture. Refrigerate until beginning to firm, about 8 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated. To use, let stand at room temperature until just soft enough to spread, about 2 hours.)

For cookies:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in bowl until well blended. Add egg, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and instant coffee; blend well. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until tops are just firm to touch and no longer shiny, about 13 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool.

For Assembly:
Place half of cookies, flat side up, on work surface. Spread each with 1 tablespoon filling, leaving 1/4-inch border. Top each with second cookie, pressing to adhere. Arrange on platter; cover and chill at least 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.) Serve cookies cold.

This series has been a ton of fun to think about.  Stay tuned for the next installment!! 

Til then, I will be perusing cookbooks for multiple birthday dinners of some my very favorite people in the world.  Each event is shaping up nicely and I am trying to craft the menus with their very favorite things fitting together into multiple course celebration love.  I promise I am photographing them.  Oy.    

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  1. And Port! We must not forget the Port! Made a pint of chocolate sauce to top off mt butter pecan ice cream ...... Nothing so soul soothing :)