<strong>1.</strong> Our Best Chocolate Recipe Ever
How would we surface the best recipes published in our first quarter-century? Taste them all, obviously! But that meant hundreds of dishes. Using our own ratings and those of Web users, we narrowed the list to a Sweet 16: cake against cupcake, pudding against mousse, pastry against candy. Tastings followed, and much passionate argument.
The winning recipe: Classic Fudge-Walnut Brownies
The most recent recipe in the competition (originally from the September 2011 issue), it won unanimously because of the intense richness from cocoa, melted chocolate, and chocolate chunks.
<strong>2.</strong> Texas Sheet Cake
With a presence as large as its namesake state, this humble, easy-to-prepare cake made it all the way to the finals. Since it first appeared in the magazine 12 years ago, it’s been a staff and reader favorite.
<strong>3.</strong> Chocolate-Frangelico Fondue
This is pure chocolate indulgence, with a whiff of hazelnut. Certain judges began to swoon watching the drizzle of melty chocolate make its way over the landscape of berries, coating them with its luscious warmth. Keep in mind that fondue is more versatile than you may think—it’s a warm sauce to drizzle over cake, ice cream, or yogurt. Be sure to start with a high-quality chocolate for the best flavor and texture.
<strong>4.</strong> Double Chocolate Ice Cream
A combo of cocoa powder and melted chocolate makes for a rich, ultra-chocolaty dessert. We updated the recipe to use heavy cream in place of the half-and-half in the original. Note: If you’re using a 1 1/2-quart tabletop ice-cream maker, it’ll be pretty full.
(Note: The following slides featuring the 12 other finalists are in no particular order.)
Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie
We’ve done 30-plus choco-pies in the last 15 years alone, but this silky and creamy pie trotted out a spicy note. ¡Arriba!
Baklava is a classic Mediterranean dessert that traditionally features layered phyllo dough, nuts, and syrup or honey. In this version, creamy chocolate-hazelnut spread adds rich, decadent flavor to this nutty, crowd-pleasing pastry.
Custard-style puddings, like this one, often call for egg yolks because they possess thickening qualities and add rich flavor to the final dish. We also use corn starch in combination with the eggs because it adds a pleasing silky sheen in addition to thickening the mixture.
Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread
Melted chocolate chips add an elegant (and tasty) swirl to this gorgeous bread, making it a perfect candidate for gifts and guests.
Truffles typically have the added richness of cream and butter. These ingredients help stabilize chocolate, which tends to scorch, separate, or become grainy if not heated carefully. We add corn syrup and evaporated milk for smooth, creamy confections.
Chocolate Chunk Bread Puddings
Try not to chop the chocolate too finely so you'll have good-sized chunks to bite into. This pudding uses Hawaiian bread, which is a soft, sweet bread found in the bakery section of most grocery stores.
A mighty fine cookie. Bittersweet edge, nice and rich. It's also easy to prepare and keeps for several days in an airtight container.
Double Chocolate Soufflés with Warm Fudge Sauce
These chocolate soufflés are an uber-decadent dessert and the perfect finishing touch to dinner parties or a quiet romantic dinner. You can even prepare the ingredients ahead, spoon the batter into soufflé dishes, cover, and freeze until you're ready to cook them. They can go straight from the freezer to the oven. Make the sauce ahead, too, and simply warm it before serving.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Instant coffee intensifies the chocolate richness of these cupcakes. For thicker frosting, cover and chill for 10 minutes before spreading on the cupcakes.
Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse
The custard base will be thick, but whipped topping is folded in to give it the classic airy texture of a mousse. Because this dessert needs time to chill, it is a terrific make-ahead option.
A little rum added to the melted chocolate puts this creamy, chocolaty cheesecake over the edge.
Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet
The deep chocolate flavor and rich consistency belie this dessert's low-fat status. Freeze the sorbet up to two days in advance; let stand at room temperature 15 minutes to soften a bit before scooping.