Sixteen recipes battled head-to-head in a bake-off to find our most intense chocolaty treat of the past 25 years.
November 16, 2011
1 of 16Photo: Francesco Tonelli
1. 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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.