So, you have no one to give a card to. Or one of you is working. Or trapped on a desert island. Maybe you just hate Valentine’s Day in principle.
None of those are good enough reasons to skip a good, rich dose of chocolate at some point this month.
I reached back into the Loaves & Dishes archives to come up with two favorite uses for this life-giving substance and nothing says you have to be celebrating V-day to make them. On the other hand, if you are observing the feast day of St. Valentine, there’s no better way than to put chocolate on the menu, or, ahem, to make chocolate the entire menu.
Both of these recipes would make for a solid meal, if you ask me. Just heat up a bowl of frozen green beans, eat those, and then head straight to dessert. You don’t have to tell anyone. I certainly won’t.
Chocolate Stout Cake(s)
Makes 1 standard Bundt cake for 16 slices, or 8 mini Bundt cakes, each for splitting between 2 people
2½ ounces (¾ cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed); more for the pan
10 ounces (1¼ cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature; more for the pan
1¼ cups stout, such as Guinness (Don’t include foam when measuring.)
1/3 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
7½ ounces (1 2/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, see note
¾ cup heavy cream
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F. Butter a 10- or 12-cup Bundt pan (or 8 1-cup mini Bundt pans) and then lightly coat with sifted cocoa powder. Tap out any excess cocoa.
In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the stout and molasses to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand while preparing the cake batter.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a stand mixer (using the paddle attachment) or a hand-held mixer, cream the butter in a large bowl on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, stopping to scrape the bowl after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour and stout mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Stop the mixer at least one last time to scrape the bowl and then beat at medium speed until the batter is smooth, about 20 seconds. Stir in the chopped chocolate.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan (or pans), spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Run a knife through the batter to eliminate any air pockets. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 45 to 50 minutes (about 35 minutes for mini cakes). Set the pan on a rack to cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and remove the pan. Let cool until just barely warm. Drizzle with the glaze (if using) and then let cool to room temperature before serving. If you’re making the cake ahead, wrap it while still barely warm without the glaze. If you plan to freeze the cake, don’t glaze it until you’re ready to serve it or give it away.
For the glaze, bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute and then whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes before drizzling over the barely warm cake.
Note: For the semisweet chocolate, I used a 12-ounce bag of Nestle chips, (half in cake and half in glaze) requiring no chopping. Fine Cooking might not approve.
- Adapted from Fine Cooking: Cakes & Cupcakes
Per serving, with glaze: 444 calories, 26 g fat, 2.9 g fiber, 4.6 g protein, 59 g carbohydrate, 191 mg sodium, 89 mg cholesterol
Triple Dark Chocolate Truffle Brownies
Makes 16 brownies
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup and 3 tablespoons (regular) cocoa powder
¼ cup and 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1¼ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 whole package Oreos (30 cookies)
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed, at room temperature
1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, set aside.
Place butter, both cocoa powders and sugar in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 1 minute and 30 seconds, or until butter is melted. Mix everything together until smooth. Stir in eggs and vanilla until combined. Pour in the flour and mix until everything is completely combined. The batter will be very thick and glossy.
Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and smooth it out until level. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out slightly moist with a little bit of batter left on it - the top will not look so “wet” anymore when they are done. This is what makes them fudgy. Let them cool completely in the pan.
While the brownies are cooling, prepare the truffle layer. In a large food processor, add Oreo cookies and pulse into a fine crumb. Dump in cream cheese and pulse until a doughlike consistency forms and you can’t see the cream cheese anymore. It will form a large ball when it’s ready. Once brownies are completely cool, take chunks of the truffle mixture and pack it onto the brownie in an even layer.
In a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips and shortening at 30-second increments in the microwave until completely smooth and pourable. Pour the chocolate on top of the truffle layer and spread it out with a rubber spatula into a smooth and even layer. Place tray back into the refrigerator for 20 minutes to allow the top to set up properly. Take the pan out, allow the brownies to come back to room temperature for at least 10 minutes for smoother cutting lines.
Brownies will stay fresh for up to 5 days stored in an airtight container.
Per brownie: 377 calories, 21 g fat, 2.4 g fiber, 3.3 g protein, 48 g carbohydrate, 181 mg sodium, 50 mg cholesterol
Jennie Geisler can be reached on Twitter:@ETNGeisler.