Everything you want to know about chocolate
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 (some on our staff even claim it has aphrodisiac effects).
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 have 26 chocolate-heavy recipes to show your special someone how much you care about them.
Cakes and Pies
There's nothing quite like a layer cake to celebrate a special occasion, and this towering devil's food cake is an impressive pick for a Valentine's Day dessert. 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, 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.
This elegant dessert is deceptively easy to make—French meringue is simpler than other varieties and bakes right on top of the layers of chocolate cake. Once the cakes and meringues are baked, all you have to do is assemble them with whipped cream and a fruity raspberry sauce.
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 added 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 adds a pleasant earthiness.
If layer cakes seem a bit too involved for a weeknight meal, this rich chocolate sheet cake is just the ticket (and you'll still have plenty of leftovers). Slathered with hot fudge and topped with crunchy pecans, it gets added complexity and notes of toffee from the addition of some malted milk powder.
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—and extremely delicious—because we make it with marshmallow crème.
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 dark 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 fudgy.
Making a baked cheesecake is an exercise in patience—not only does it need about an hour in the oven, but it takes a good eight hours to set. No-bake cheesecakes take less time and are just as delicious, if a little denser. This simple chocolate cheesecake features a chocolate cookie crust and a filling of cream cheese, sour cream, and bittersweet chocolate.
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 makes for a dessert that feels at once over-the-top and refined.
Baked in a cast iron skillet, this rich, moist chocolate cake is the ultimate quick dessert. It doesn't require any whipping, creaming, or beating, and the batter comes together in the very skillet you'll bake the cake in. Finished with a generous layer of milk chocolate frosting, it doesn't get much more delicious—or simple—than this.
This ice cream is chocolaty 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 in the base. This ice cream might be a little more bitter than you'd expect, but hey—sometimes love is, too.
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.
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.
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.
We don't like to brag, but our resident pastry wizard created a true culinary masterpiece with these vegan chocolate chip cookies. Dry malt extract and nutmeg create some of the toasty, nutty flavors that traditional butter cookies develop as they brown. Fresh out of the oven, these cookies are crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle. They're vegan, but none of your dairy-eating friends will know—or care.
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 dark 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.
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.
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 keep for a month in the fridge, so you can keep eating them long after Valentine's Day has passed.
Sometimes, size really does matter. To make this enormous, impressive, and utterly delicious skillet cookie, we bake classic chocolate chip cookie dough into a cast iron pan. A lower proportion of white sugar than our regular chocolate chip cookie gives this skillet rendition some extra chewiness, while a few teaspoons of malted milk powder take an already-fantastic dessert to the next level.
Few desserts say Valentine's Day like chocolate truffles. To make them, we start with a ganache—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. However you choose to finish these treats, consider making an extra batch. They go fast.
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.
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 ahead of time.
Mousse may be the fancier dessert, but I'll 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.
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.
If there's anything more romantic (and delicious) than cozying up with your significant other to sip hot chocolate and watch a movie, we haven't discovered it yet. Instead of buying the cheap stuff at the supermarket, we make a big batch of homemade hot chocolate mix to get us into Valentine's Day and through the rest of winter. The mixture of toasted sugar, white chocolate, Dutch cocoa, and malted milk powder is at once simple, rich, and sophisticated.
These brownies are fudgy, deeply flavorful, just sweet enough, and feature a crinkly, paper-thin crust. We call on dark chocolate, high-fat Dutch cocoa powder, brown butter, and instant espresso powder to give them tons of warm, nutty flavor. They're the perfect gooey end to a romantic dinner, and you can easily make and store them the night before, so you don't have to spend any extra time in the kitchen on Valentine's Day.
Planning to spend Valentine's Day on your couch binging romantic comedies alone or with a significant other? We don't judge. But we do think you'll be much happier if you make this crispy chocolate popcorn in advance, and snack as you watch. You probably already have most of the ingredients on hand—butter, sugar, dark chocolate—to turn plain popcorn into a crisp, ridiculously easy candy.
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