Chocolate Loaf with Chocolate Port Wine Glaze

From Rare Birds and Twizzles

Makes 1 Loaf, about 12-14 slices

For the cake

  • 3 ounces chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 2/3 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup + 2 TBSPP brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pureed cooked beets (I used 1 can of sliced beets, drained)
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the Glaze

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ TBSP butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ tsp salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
  • ½ tsp instant espresso powder
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup Ruby Port (you could substitute a fruity red wine if you have no port)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

Melt the chopped chocolate and 2 TBSP of the softened butter in the microwave, (30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds) until melted. Stir until smooth. Add the pureed beets and vanilla to the chocolate, and stir until well combined. Set aside. Beat the rest of the softened butter with the brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the chocolate mixture to the sugar, butter and eggs (don’t worry if it looks curdled.)

Whisk together the dry ingredients, and add a little at a time to the wet until thoroughly combined. Pour into loaf pan and smooth tip. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a tester in center comes out clean and the edges start to pull away from sides of pan. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on rack.

To make the glaze:

Melt the chocolate, butter, salt and espresso powder together over a double boiler until smooth. Once melted, add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. While the chocolate is melting, bring the wine up to a boil in a small saucepan. When the chocolate mixture is smooth, remove from the heat, add in the port and stir until fully incorporated. Let the glaze cool until slightly thickened (about 10+ minutes) and a rubber spatula leaves a trail when stirring.

When the loaf is cool and the glaze is ready, invert onto a plate so that the bottom is now the top. Drizzle the glaze over the loaf, heavily in the middle first, then along the edges so that it drizzles over the sides, covering the edges almost completely.  Let sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours (if you can keep your hands off it) until the glaze is set.

photoPut on something fabulous, pour something sparkly, and twizzle to your heart’s content!  Calories: approximately 300/slice (14 slices), 340/slice (12 slices).


Gianduia Torte (Bon Appétit, December 1997)

From Move over, Donald…

  • 7 oz. (1 ½ cups) hazelnuts, toasted, husked, plus a few extra whole or half nuts for decorating
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 oz. (10 TBSP) salted butter
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 9.5 oz. (3/4 cup) sugar

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

  • ½ cup cream
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8-inch-diameter spring form pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Butter parchment. Wrap outside of pan with foil. Finely grind hazelnuts in processor. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool chocolate mixture to room temperature.

Using electric mixer, beat yolks and sugar in large bowl until thick and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Fold in cooled chocolate mixture, then 2014-01-26 14.09.39hazelnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Smooth top.

Bake until cake is set and appears dry but tester comes out with very moist crumbs attached, about 35-45 minutes. Transfer to rack. Lightly press down any raised edges of cake. Cool completely. Run small knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto platter. Remove pan bottom. Peel off parchment. Slide waxed paper strips under cake to protect platter.

To make the ganache glaze:  Heat the cream until just before boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour onto the cooled torte, and spread out to overflow the sides. Smooth top and sides. Decorate the top of the torte with whole or half toasted hazelnuts. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.)

2014-01-26 16.08.56To serve: Slice in thin wedges, and serve at room temperature. This is a very rich cake, so an 8-inch torte will serve 12.

Variations: This cake can be made into individual small cakes in a muffin tin. Butter paper muffin liners, and fill ¾ of the way full with the batter. Bake about 20 minutes, testing for doneness at about 15 minutes. Let cool completely before removing the paper cups. Glaze with chocolate ganache and decorate with whole or half hazelnuts.


Chocolate Truffle Template

Makes a dozen or so Truffles, depending upon how generous you areThe Basics:
  • 6 oz. chocolate – I like a 5oz. bittersweet to 1 oz. milk mix, but you can use all semisweet, bittersweet or milk depending on your preferences. Using a block or bar is better than chips for this.
  • 1/3-cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp butter
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Making the Ganache

Chop the chocolate and melt* either in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between, or over a double boiler.

(*Some truffle recipes call for pouring the hot cream over the chopped chocolate to melt. Since this is a small batch, I find sometimes it doesn’t do the trick and you wind up with pieces of chocolate in the final ganache. It still tastes fine, but defeats the purpose of the smooth, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth character of truffles.)

Add a tiny pinch of salt to the cream and heat until bubbles form around the edges (DON’T BOIL). Add the hot cream, vanilla and butter to the melted chocolate and stir until everything is well mixed. Cool to room temperature, and then cover with cling wrap, pressing the wrap to the surface if the ganache. Place in the fridge until it is firm enough to roll into balls and hold its shape, a few hours,  but overnight is fine too. If you leave overnight, you’ll have to let it sit on the counter to soften up a bit before forming.

2. Forming the Truffles:

The set up:

  • A shallow bowl for the cocoa powder
  • A scooper of some sort (I like to use the smaller end of a melon baller)
  • A mug of hot tap water to dip scooper between truffles
  • A large plate or pan lined with cling wrap or wax paper to put the finished truffles on and store the fridge.

Dip the scoop into the hot water first, then scoop out a ball of ganache. Place the lump of chocolate in your hands (very clean hands) and roll around to a ball. These don’t have to be perfect. After all, truffles are called that because they look like the mushroomy ones.

Drop the formed truffle into the bowl of cocoa. Form another 3 or 4 and drop into cocoa. Carefully shake the bowl back and forth (or you could roll these guys around using a fork or your hands) so each truffle is coated. Place on the pan. Repeat with the remainder of the ganache. Once all your little babies are formed and blanketed in cocoa, cover the pan and place in the fridge to firm up again.

Truffles taste best if they aren’t cold, so let them warm up a little before serving. Calories: basic recipe is approximately 105 calories per truffle if you make a dozen. Calories will vary depending upon yield and variations.

3. The Variations

This is when the imagination can run wild, as long as you keep it subtle. This isn’t a Dagwood sandwich; it’s a tasty one-bite morsel. Too many add-ins or ons and you lose the star of the show, the chocolate.

Here’s some of the things I found make for an interesting bite. I’ve separated them into three categories: Flavoring the cream, flavoring the ganache, and coatings & sprinklings.

Flavoring the cream:

The basic technique is to bring the cream up to heat with something in it that will steep and infuse its flavor. Once the cream is hot, turn off heat, cover and let sit for 15-30 minutes, depending on the strength of flavor you like. Then you strain the infused cream into the melted chocolate and go from there. A few of my favorites are:

  • 1 tsp ground espresso or coffee
  • 1 tsp earl gray tea
  • 2 crushed cinnamon sticks
  • 1 crushed cinnamon stick, two crushed cardamom pods, 2 crushed whole cloves (Chai truffles)
  • Orange peel (making sure it’s just the peel and not the white pith)

Flavoring the ganache:

These you would add into the melted ganache when you add the cream.

  • 2 TBSP Tawny Port and ¼ cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
  • 2 TBSP Cointreau
  • ¼ tsp ground ancho chili pepper (or your favorite chili pepper)

Coatings & Sprinklings:

First you dip in 4 oz. of melted chocolate (semi, bitter or milk), then sprinkle or roll away in:

  • Chopped salted pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts
  • Toasted shredded coconut
  • Chopped candied orange peel
  • Flaky sea salt like Maldon or fleur de sel

I found the best way to dip is to drop the truffle in the melted chocolate, roll around with a fork, then lift out and gently tap the fork on the rim of the bowl so excess chocolate drips off between the tines. Place dipped truffles on a clean wrap covered plate or pan. You can now sprinkle any of the toppings above or others you come up with on the wet chocolate. If you are using the flaky sea salt, a flake or two is all you need.

If you want to roll instead of sprinkle, let the truffles sit for about 5 minutes and then roll in the chopped nuts or coconut. Place truffles back in fridge, covered, until the chocolate has set.

Dark Chocolate Sauce with Port Wine

From The medicinal properties of a hot fudge sundae

Makes about 2 cups

  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped (I use half bittersweet and half semisweet chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup tawny Port * (you could substitute coffee, almond, orange, raspberry or other liqueurs)

Bring whipping cream, whole milk, instant espresso, a pinch of salt and  butter to simmer in small heavy saucepan. Remove pan from heat and add chopped chocolate. Whisk mixture until smooth. Stir in Port or other liqueur. Taste and add a little more wine or liqueur if needed. Cover and chill (sauce can be made 2 days ahead). Warm over medium-low heat when ready to serve.

Woo Cakes

From Dear Mr. Clooney

These are basically a version of whoopee pie (quite appropriate, don’t you think), but instead of a butter cream filling, there’s caramel truffle with a hint of sea salt.  If you wanted, you could make the cake part from scratch with your chocolate cake recipe. Me? I have better things to do if I’m going to be ready for the event, (like getting a mani/pedi, and definitely shopping for the right pair of proposal heels.) So I use my favorite fudgy chocolate cake box mix and save a step. The real star of the show is the caramel truffle ganache filling anyway.

This recipe makes about 12 3” cakes, or more if you want smaller ones. You control the amount of woo you need to seal the deal.

For the cakes:

  • 1 box of your favorite chocolate cake mix ,or your favorite chocolate cake recipe (my devil’s food cupcake recipe from 9 toes over the edge is a good one, and there are dozens of others available on I like to doctor up a box mix a little with the following additions:
    • ¼ tsp cayenne, chipotle or your favorite chili powder
    • ¼ tsp cinnamon
    • ½ vanilla
    • ½ tsp instant espresso powder

For the truffle ganache filling:

  • 1 3.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate
  • 1.25 ounces sugar (approximately half of a 1/3 cup measure)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp flakey sea salt (I prefer fleur du sel or Malden sea salt)
  • 1 TBSP water

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Prepare the cake batter according to the package directions, adding in the chili, cinnamon, espresso powder and vanilla. Drop the batter by 2 TBSP portions (for 3-inch cakes) onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cakes to cooling rack, and cool completely.

Prepare the ganache:

Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler or in the microwave at 30-second intervals until smooth. Set aside while you make the caramel. *

*[A note about making caramel:  A lot of cooks are spooked by the prospect of this, but be brave and patient. And never leave the sugar unattended while you are boiling it. Whenever I’m playing with molten sugar, I keep a small bowl of ice water right next to the stove. That way if some of it does happen to get on me, I can immediately plunge that part into the icy bath. I’ve never had to yet, but it does make me feel better to know it’s there. Also, caramel is, well, caramel colored. Really nice rich amber is what you are going for. Patience and a little courage get you there. And if you let it goes too far? It’s just sugar, so try again. You’ll get the hang of it.]

Combine sugar and 1-tablespoon water in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, occasionally brushing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve and sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan. When the sugar is completely dissolved, increase heat; boil until syrup is deep amber color, brushing down sides and swirling pan occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Stir over very low heat until caramel is smooth. Mix caramel and 1/4-teaspoon fleur de sel into melted chocolate. Chill 10-15 minutes on the counter until the ganache firms up just a bit.

To assemble the woo cakes you need:

  • the cakes
  • truffle ganache
  • some flakey sea salt

Take one of the cooled cakes and put a little more than a teaspoon of the truffle filling on the flat side (you are building a sandwich with the flat sides together). Top with another cake, flat side down and press together so the filling spreads to fill the inside. Place on a tray to set. Repeat with all of the other cakes. Take about ½ tsp of the remaining filling and put a dollop on top of each cake. Carefully sprinkle a few flakes of the sea salt on top.

Chill the finished cakes in the fridge until the ganache has firmed up. Let them sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature before serving. Calories: if they say yes, you’ll work it off later. If not, you don’t really want to know anyway…

Make-ahead chocolate soufflés (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated) Serves 6-8

From Putting your BIG GIRL shoes on

Soufflés scare the hell out of most cooks. We’ve all watched the scene inRoman Holiday when Audrey Hepburn pulls her perfect soufflé out of the oven and watches it sink into a big cheesy turd. These little babies will put that fear to rest. You make them as individual soufflés rather than a big one and bake-off only as many as you need, (and guess who gets to have chocolate soufflé for breakfast the next day…) Plus, they get made ahead and frozen. When you are ready, you just pull them out of the freezer, pop them in the oven, and voila! Accept the applause, you ROCK STAR!

  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter (1 tablespoon softened, remaining butter cut into ¼ -inch chunks)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 TBSP for coating the dishes
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped coarse
  • 1/8 TSP salt
  • ½ TSP vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau work nicely)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 8 large egg whites
  • ¼ TSP cream of tartar
  • 2 TBSP confectioners’ sugar
  • Optional toppings and add-ins: fresh raspberries, Clementine sections, dried apricots or cherries, crushed pretzels, salted peanuts or other salted nuts, crushed candy canes, Reese’s pieces or other small candies, whipped cream or whatever!

Coat eight 1-cup ramekins with 1 tablespoon butter, then coat inside of dish evenly with the 1 TBSP sugar; refrigerate until ready to use.

Melt chocolate and remaining butter in medium bowl set over pan of simmering water. Turn off heat, stir in salt, vanilla, and liqueur; set aside.

Bring the 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 TBSP water to boil in small saucepan, then simmer until sugar dissolves. With mixer running, slowly add this sugar syrup to egg yolks in a thin stream – you don’t want sweet scrambled eggs. Beat until mixture triples in volume, about 3 minutes. Fold into chocolate mixture. Clean beaters.

Beat egg whites until frothy; add cream of tartar and beat to soft peaks; add confectioners’ sugar; continue beating to stiff peaks. Cook’s Illustrateddefines stiff peak stage as when the mixture just holds the weight of a raw egg in the shell when the egg is placed on top. I prefer to scoop out some, and turn the spoon upside-down over the bowl. If it stays in place, it’s ready. (I’ve seen the kitchen trick of turning the full bowl upside-down over your head. A fancy schmancy trick sure to impress spectators, but if it’s not ready you have a hell of a hair conditioning treatment and have ruined a whole bunch of eggs…)

Vigorously stir one-quarter of whipped whites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold remaining whites into mixture until just incorporated. Fill each ramekin almost to rim, wiping excess filling from rim with wet paper towel. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to two days before serving. (NOTE: if you wrap these good in cling wrap and put in a freezer bag, they can keep for even longer than that.)

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 400° F. Bake until fully risen, about 16 to 18 minutes. They are done when fragrant and fully risen. Do keep an eye on them the last 2-3 minutes so they don’t burn – you can practice your ‘basking in the glow of their adoration’ smile while you wait the last few minutes. Serve immediately.

Optional toppings and add ins: When I serve these for a dinner party, I put out a lot of little bowls with some of the optional toppings listed in the ingredients (and I’m certain you can come up with a few of your own). Encourage everyone to stick their spoon in the middle of their soufflé, open it up, and add in what they like. Then sit back, and watch your grown up guests turn into a bunch of happy little kids! Calories per serving (is she SERIOUS?!): approximately 320/8 servings, or 425/6 servings. Go for another walk around the block…they’re worth it!

Fleur de sel brownies Makes 24 brownies, or one BIG one, if you are having that kind of day…

From Dear Dr. Nobel

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3/4  cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Spray foil with cooking spray.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 ½ – 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and nuts, mix well and pour into prepared pan.

BAKE 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool completely. Use foil handles to remove brownies from pan before cutting to serve.

For ganache frosting:

  • 7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (if using bittersweet, add 1 tsp honey)
  • 1/4 cups butter
  • a pinch (about 1/8 tsp) fleur de sel or other flakey sea salt (maldon or gray salt work fine too) plus ½ tsp for sprinkling on top
  • 1 tsp strong coffee or espresso

Melt the chocolate with the butter, coffee, and pinch of salt over double boiler. Stir until completely incorporated and spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle up to a 1/2 tsp fleur de sel or malden salt over ganache (you want just a hint of salt on top.)

Chill thoroughly before cutting. These can be made a day in advance. Store in refrigerator and take out 15-20 minutes before serving. Calories: 260/serving.

Chocolate Cabernet cupcakes Makes 18 full-sized cupcakes

From What you really wish you could say (and probably shouldn’t)

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP salt
  • ½ to 1 TSP cinnamon (depending on how much you like)
  • ½ TSP instant espresso powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup Cabernet Sauvignon (plus a glass for the cook…I mean, the bottle IS open…)
  • ½ cup roughly chopped dried cherries, (I soak these in a ¼ cup of port – feel free if you have it handy and if not, no worries)
  • Chocolate ganache icing (optional, but really, is chocolate EVER just optional?)

Soak the chopped dried cherries in a little port to cover (if using) and set aside. Preheat oven to 350° F and line muffin pans with paper liners (or spray with cooking or baking spray). Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, espresso powder & cocoa powder into a large bowl or he bowl of your electric mixer). Add in the eggs, oil, vanilla and wine.

Beat with at low-speed for 30 seconds. Turn speed up to high and continue beating for 3 minutes, scraping side occasionally. Remove the bowl from mixer, drain the cherries (if soaking) and stir to the batter. Pour batter into prepared muffin pans, filling no more than 2/3 of the way full (avoid the urge to overfill them – they rise up and cupcakes should be flat on top, not domed like a muffin.)

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the center of the cupcake. Remove from pans and cool completely on rack before icing.

Chocolate ganache icing

NOTE: Recipe makes more ganache than you will need for this recipe. Ganache freezes well – I put in a ziploc sealed well to remove as much air as possible, and when I want to use it for another recipe (or to dip strawberries!) just warm gently over a water bath again and stir well.

  • 1/3 cup plus 1 TBSP heavy cream
  • 1/2 TSP instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1/2 TSP of unsalted butter
  • 6 oz (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat all ingredients except the butter together in a double boiler or heat-proof bowl over simmering water until the chocolate is melted. Stir the mixture together until smooth. Add in the butter and stir vigorously until completely incorporated (this will give the ganache a nice shine).

To Assemble: Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into warm ganache and set on a rack to cool and firm up. And if you want to get a little fancy, sprinkle just a few grains of a good sea salt like maldon or fleur de sel on the top of each cupcake. Crazy you say? Well if you do, you won’t be disappointed. (I’ll have more crazy combinations in a later post…)

Chill cupcakes until the ganache has set. You should keep in a cool place or the fridge until about 15-20 minutes before serving. They also freeze well in an airtight container.

Yields/Calories: Makes 18 full-sized cupcakes: 185 calories each plain (yeah, right..) or 290 each with ganache.

NOTE: If you want to make mini cupcakes, the baking time is 9-10 minutes and the calories are about half of the full-sized one…so you can eat two! 🙂

Chocolate pudding (adapted from Real SimpleMakes 8  half-cup servings, or one BIG bowl, when it’s been that kind of day…

From A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants…

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 3 cups whole milk (I’ve used 2% and it works just fine)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 oz. bitter-sweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I like bittersweet, but if that’s too strong a flavor for you, use semi-sweet or a combo of both)
  • 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Add in 1/3 cup of the milk, stirring to form a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk and the egg yolks.

Cook the pudding over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with spatula until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Do not let it boil – if it’s at the stage when a few tiny bubbles are forming, turn off the heat – it’s done.

Add in the chopped chocolate and the vanilla extract and stir until the mixture is smooth. Pour into 8 4-oz. ramekins, custard cups, tea cups, etc.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours. You can make these up to 2 days ahead of serving (yeah, like you could actually keep out of them for that long…) Calories – 275/serving.


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