I don't usually put a lot of time into dessert, but Valentine's Day is an exception—the holiday just isn't complete without something sweet. And when it comes to Valentine's desserts, nothing beats chocolate. There's no better time to make the chocolate desserts you've been dreaming about all year, but have avoided for one reason or another. From meringue cake with raspberry sauce to the most intense dark chocolate ice cream and the ultimate chocolate chip cookies, we've got 19 chocolate-heavy recipes to show your special someone how much you care about them.
Cakes and Pies
Devil's Food Cake
There isn't anything quite like a layer cake to celebrate an occasion, and there's nothing like a towering devil's food cake to pull out all the stops for a Valentine's Day dessert. And the best part is that this cake is a cinch to make: You don't even need a stand mixer for the cake itself. All you need is one bowl and some good chocolate and Dutch-process cocoa powder. If you want to really double up on the chocolate, you can frost the cake with chocolate Swiss buttercream, but you could also opt for contrasting layers of cake and tangy cream cheese buttercream. Either way, it's a showstopper of a dessert.
Chocolate Meringue Cake With Whipped Cream and Raspberries
This elegant dessert is deceptively easy to make—French meringue is simpler than other varieties and bakes right on top of the chocolate cakes. Once the cakes and meringues are baked, all you have to do is assemble them with whipped cream and a fruity raspberry sauce.
Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake
A vibrantly pink cherry whipped cream makes this layer cake perfect for Valentine's Day. The whipped cream is flavored with powdered freeze-dried cherries, which have the benefit of acting as a stabilizer. As for the cake itself, you can flavor it with either natural or Dutch process cocoa—the former will emphasize the dessert's fruitiness, while the latter has a pleasant earthiness.
Texas Sheet Cake
Our version of this classic dessert stays pretty traditional—we make the batter for the thin buttermilk cake with a melted butter/boiling water combination and top the cake with chocolate icing and toasted pecans. This might seem a little oversized for date night, but nothing says "I love you" like a week's worth of dessert.
One-Bowl Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
Just because your valentine has dietary restrictions doesn't mean you can't make them an indulgent dessert. This gluten- and dairy-free cake gets a light crumb from a mixture of white rice flour and potato starch and a rich chocolate flavor from cocoa powder and brewed coffee. The coconut buttercream is ultra-easy because we make it with marshmallow crème.
Flourless Chocolate-Chestnut Torte
A little more complex than your average chocolate cake, this flourless torte gets a deep, earthy flavor from chestnut purée and a shot of bourbon. There's chopped bittersweet chocolate, too, but we don't use too much because we don't want to overpower the mild chestnuts. You have two options for serving the torte: at room temperature it is almost as soft as a mousse, and when it's chilled it turns dense and fudgey.
No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake
Making a baked cheesecakes is an exercise in patience—not only do they need about an hour in the oven, but they take a good eight hours to set. No-bake cheesecakes take less time and are just as delicious, if a little denser. This simple cheesecake uses a filling made with cream cheese, sour cream, and bittersweet chocolate and a crust made with chocolate cookie wafers.
Double-Chocolate Cream Pie
Whipped cream has become something of a default topping for chocolate cream pie, but we don't think it's the best choice. Our chocolate cream—made with Dutch process cocoa powder, chopped dark chocolate, and espresso powder—is seriously rich, so we prefer to top it with a light, mellow Swiss meringue for contrast. Combined with a flaky homemade crust, it all makes for a dessert that feels both over-the-top and refined.
The Darkest Dark Chocolate Ice Cream
This ice cream is chocolatey to the extreme—it hits the rich, comforting notes you might associate with chocolate while also playing up its bittersweet, fruity side. The secret is steeping tart, roasty cocoa nibs into the base. This ice cream might be a little more bitter than you'd expect, but hey—sometimes love is, too.
Oreo Ice Cream
For something a little more approachable, Oreo ice cream is the way to go. The ice cream has a double-dose of cookies-and-cream flavor because we make the base with Oreo wafers and mix in crumbled cookies at the end of the churn. You might expect it to just taste like chocolate, but the wafers give the ice cream a toasty, distinctly Oreo-like flavor.
Soft and Rich Chocolate Frozen Custard
Creamier than gelato and denser than ice cream, frozen custard is my personal choice for the ultimate frozen treat. Frozen custard is typically made with a professional machine called a continuous freezer, but at home you can get a similar texture by adding a little corn syrup to the cream- and egg-rich base. Frozen custard loses its unique texture within a couple hours, giving you and your valentine an excuse to eat the whole pint.
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
You might not think cookies are fancy enough for Valentine's Day dessert, but that's only because you don't know how incredibly delicious these cookies are. It took 100 tests for us to develop the perfect chocolate chip cookie, which uses chopped chocolate, browned butter, and an overnight rest. Can't start dessert a day ahead of time? Our quick and easy chocolate chip cookies skip the resting step but are still sure to please.
Homemade Oreo Cookies
We're big Oreo fans here at Serious Eats, so this recipe is a sure way to our hearts. A dusting of Dutch process cocoa gives the wafers their signature inky color and, for reasons we can't quite explain, 1/4 teaspoon of coconut extract make them taste more authentic. If you're not sold on Oreos being Valentine's-appropriate, make them into heart shapes to seal the deal.
Dark Chocolate Easter Cookies
We first made these cookies to use up leftover Easter candy, but you can also make them by raiding a box of Valentine's Day chocolates. We use an extra dark, bitter dough to balance out the sweet chocolates—Cacao Barry Extra Brute is one of our favorites. We like to mix most of the candy into the dough, but then top each cookie with a piece or two before baking.
No-Bake Cookies With Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Chewy Oats
You don't even need to turn on the oven for this quick dessert—all you have to do is whip up a simple fudge on the stove, stir in rolled oats, spoon it all onto a pan, and let it chill. These will stay good for a month in the fridge, so you can make a batch in the next week or two and not have to worry about forgetting to prepare dessert come Valentine's Day.
Chocolate Ganache Truffles
Few desserts say Valentine's Day like chocolate truffles. Making them starts with a ganache, or melted chocolate and cream mixed into an emulsion. Once the ganache is set all you have to do is scoop it into balls and coat them—rolling in cocoa powder works, but you could also use nuts or even melted tempered chocolate.
Marbled Ganache for Easy Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Making truffles isn't the only thing you can do with a ganache—an equally romantic option is to dip strawberries into it. This impressive marbled ganache is made by swirling dark and white chocolate ganaches together. The basic technique is the same for both, but the ratios are different—go with 2:3 chocolate:cream for dark chocolate and a 3:2 for white.
Eggless Chocolate Mousse
We didn't set out to make an eggless chocolate mousse, but when a condensed milk experiment went awry we were pleasantly surprised by the results—without the eggs the bold flavor of dark chocolate can really shine. The recipe has two components—a chocolate base and whipped cream to fold in—and the base can be made a week ahead of time.
Homemade Jell-O Style Chocolate Pudding
Mousse is a more cliché fancy dessert, but I will always have a special place in my heart for Jell-O pudding. Unlike the original our pudding is made with gelatin—despite the name, Jell-O actually gets its texture from chemical thickeners. Hershey's chocolate will give your pudding the most traditional flavor, but I like the depth that comes from high-end cocoa powder.
No-Bake Chocolate-Nutella "Cheesecake" Verrines
These verrines (essentially individually portioned cheesecakes) use chocolate three ways—we start with an Oreo crust and layer on both chocolate and Nutella fillings. The verrines are at their best after sitting in the fridge for a day or two, so plan accordingly.