Chocolate’s history dates back to three thousand years. Chocolates were prepared from Theobroma cacao tree’s bitter seeds (found in Mexico and North America) which were turned into delicious chocolates using complex processes. This was centuries before chocolate was consumed, traded, and used as currency.
The Spanish after conquering Central America introduced chocolate to Europe, where it first became the stimulating drink of kings and aristocrats and then was democratised in coffee houses. Industrialisation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries made chocolate a food for the masses--until its revival in our own time as a luxury item. With lovers declaring it the most erotic and tempting gift to express their love.
Chocolate, for lovers, signifies all things sweet, warm and mushy about love. Experts also suggest that dark chocolate is a good aphrodisiac. So, this Valentine’s, don’t just make love…but make some chocolate too.
Chocolate Espresso Torte
This extremely deep, rich, and dark cake tastes great with whipped cream.
5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 lb (8 Tbs) unsalted butter, cut into pieces plus more for the pan
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brewed espresso or double-
strength coffee, cooled to room temperature
1 Tbs sifted, finely ground espresso beans (from about 1 heaping Tbs whole beans)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour plus more for the pan
Heat the oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with Pan Liners (parchment). Butter the parchment and lightly flour the pan, shaking out the excess.
In a small, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolates and butter, stirring frequently. Set aside.
Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the eggs, sugar, brewed espresso, ground espresso beans, and salt on medium-high speed until thick and voluminous, at least 8 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and mix in the butter-chocolate mixture. Turn off the mixer. Sift the flour over the batter and fold until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Set a plate over the torte and carefully invert the torte onto the plate; peel off the parchment. Flip the torte back onto the rack to cool completely before slicing.
1 1/2 cups Chocolate Pudding
2 8-inch yellow layer cakes
1 jar (16-ounce) chocolate frosting
1/2 cup raspberries
2 tablespoons chocolate shavings
1 cup whipped cream
Using a serrated knife cut each of the 2 layer cakes in half cross-wise, creating 4 thin, 8-inch layers.
Place one layer of cake on a plate and top with 1/2 cup of the pudding. Spread the pudding evenly, leaving 1/4 inch at the edge of the cake. Repeat this process for the next two layers and top with the final layer of cake.
Spread a thin layer of frosting over the cake, placing the icing on top of the cake and working it down the sides with your knife. This is the crumb coat; it will seal in the crumbs and prepare the cake for a smooth outer layer of frosting.
Place the cake in the refrigerator for a minimum of 15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
Apply the remainder of the frosting, spreading evenly with your knife to achieve a smooth outer layer. Garnish the cake with raspberries, chocolate shavings and whipped cream.
Tip: When layering the cake, put the flattest side of the cake layer facing upwards to ensure a well-shaped cake.
Chocolate Dessert Lasagna
1 (8-ounce) package no-boil lasagna noodles
2 pounds ricotta cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
1 orange, zested
1/2 cup roasted pistachios
4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the noodles for 1 minute. Drain them and put them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and lay on paper towels to dry.
Whisk together the ricotta, sugar, cocoa powder, and eggs on medium speed with a hand or stand mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until it is well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and orange zest. Spread 1/4 of the cheese mixture into the bottom of an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle some of the pistachios over the top and press on a layer of noodles. Repeat, ending with the ricotta mixture and pistachios. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the lasagna has risen. Remove the pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle the white chocolate over it. Let cool, cut, and serve.
Chocolate Griddle Cakes with Chocolate Sauce
We recommend serving these griddle cakes with orange slices on the side.
Makes 4 dessert or brunch servings.
1 cup heavy cream
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
For griddle cakes
1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 whole large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Unsalted butter for greasing griddle
Bring cream to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan, then pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, gently whisking until smooth. Keep warm or at room temperature.
Make griddle cakes:
Sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl, then whisk in eggs, yolk, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla until combined well.
Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet over moderately low heat and lightly coat with butter.
Working in batches of 2 or 3, pour 1/4 cup batter per cake onto hot griddle and cook until bubbles appear on surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip cakes with a large spatula and cook until tops spring back when pressed gently, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm. Add 1/2 teaspoon butter to griddle between batches.
Serve cakes in stacks, topped with chocolate sauce.
Eggless Chocolate Sponge Cake
1/2 can (400 grams for full can) condensed milk
125 grams (4 1/2 oz.) self-raising flour
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp chocolate powder
1/2 tsp soda bi-carb
1 level tsp baking powder
60 ml. melted butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla essence
Sieve the flour, cocoa, chocolate powder, baking powder and soda bi-carb together.
Mix the condensed milk, flour mixture, 75 ml. (2 1/2 fl. oz.) water, the vanilla essence and melted butter thoroughly.
Pour the cake mixture into a greased and dusted 150 mm. or 175 mm. (6" or 7") diameter tin.
Bake in a hot oven at 200 degree C (400 degree F) for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 180 degree C (350 degree F) and bake for a further 10 minutes.
The cake is ready when it leaves the sides of the tin and is springy to touch. When ready, take out from the oven and leave for 1 minute. Invert the tin over a rack and tap sharply to remove. Cool the cake
Preparation time: 30 minutes.