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5 quick-fix ways to indulge your sweet tooth

  • Rich Chocolate Fondue. Deb Lindsey / For the Washington Post

  • 7-Minute Vegan Chocolate Sauce. Deb Lindsey / For the Washington Post

  • Molten Peanut Butter Chocolate Cakes. Goran Kosanovic / For the Washington Post

  • Chocolate Poundcake. Deb Lindsey / For the Washington Post

  • Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie Tarts. Goran Kosanovic / For the Washington Post



Washington Post
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

When given the choice between a box of chocolates, however beautifully rendered, and a warm and shiny batch of chocolate that’s baked or swirled on the stove top, I’ll go with the latter every time. The recipes gathered here for your enjoyment won’t take much time or effort to put together, and offer options for everyone – as long as they like chocolate.

And for those of you who don’t, these just might change your mind.

The Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie Tarts, with the juicy fruit tucked in, represent an easy upgrade to fabulous. Instead of standard squares, they’re baked in individual tart pans or small pie pans, although muffin-top pans can work in a pinch.

In the Seven-Minute Vegan Chocolate Sauce, you will create the perfect consistency for dipping and spreading. Its flavor is intense and hardly sweet. Just as glossy and a bit more pourable is the Rich Chocolate Fondue. You, your sweetheart, pals or family can bring this classic back to #trending status – it’s that good, and simple. There will be no leftovers.

Chocolate Poundcake is quick to assemble, and you can chalk up the time it takes to bake as beneficial aromatherapy. It tastes just as great at room temperature as it does straight from the freezer. And last but certainly not least, we ask you to refrain from eye-rolling at the suggestion of yet another molten chocolate iteration. This time around, what oozes forth is warm, creamy peanut butter, blending with a moist chocolate crumb in such a way as to make you close your eyes and just say “yum.”

Rich Chocolate Fondue

A sweet fondue isn’t retro; it’s classic. This straight-up version is particularly glossy, and clings well.

In testing, we found that the consistency suffered a bit when reheated, even with some liquids added. It won’t be a hardship to make this disappear at one sitting.

If you don’t have a fondue pot, serve the chocolate fondue in the same pan you cooked it in, or transfer it to a small slow cooker set on LOW.

For the fondue

10 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate (preferably not chips), chopped

⅓ cup regular or low-fat milk, or more as needed

⅓ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ to ½ cup good-quality, chopped white chocolate (may substitute Ghirardelli white chocolate chips; optional)

For dipping (choose your favorites)

Hulled strawberries

Raspberries

Sliced bananas

Angel food cake, cut or torn into chunks

Plain cake doughnuts, cut into chunks

Toaster waffles, toasted and cut into bite-size pieces

Marshmallows

Dried apricots

Flaky or coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

For the fondue: Combine the chocolate, milk and cream in a medium saucepan over low heat; cook, stirring often, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.

Stir in the vanilla extract; if the mixture seems too thick, add more milk a tablespoon at a time. If desired, add the white chocolate (to taste) and stir just long enough to create melty swirls.

Pour the mixture into a fondue pot set over low heat or a gel-fuel flame.

For dipping: When ready to serve, set out some or all the components next to the fondue, with individual plates.

7-Minute Vegan Chocolate Sauce

This is easy to make and chocolaty-rich.

Serve over ice cream or cake, or swirl into a blended non-dairy milkshake.

Make ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 2 weeks. It will thicken when chilled; stir in 1 to 3 tablespoons water or non-dairy milk to loosen the consistency.

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon water

3 tablespoons maple syrup, or more as needed

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder, such as Hershey’s Special Dark, or more as needed

2 tablespoons finely chopped vegan bittersweet or dark chocolate (may substitute cocoa butter)

Pinch sea salt, or more as needed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the water, maple syrup, cocoa powder, vegan chocolate and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, whisking to incorporate.

Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 5 minutes until thickened, whisking often. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Taste and adjust the flavor as needed, adding more maple syrup for sweetness or consistency; more salt for flavor balance; or more cocoa powder (the latter, by the teaspoon) for more intense chocolate flavor.

Use right away as a hot chocolate sauce, or cool and transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate, for up to 2 weeks.

Molten Peanut Butter Chocolate Cakes

These have a twist: Their warm, oozing centers are store-bought peanut butter instead of chocolate. And because we ran the nutritional analysis, we recommend splitting each portion with someone you like.

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into several pieces

2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks

½ cup sugar

¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon flour, sifted or whisked

8 tablespoons creamy (smooth) peanut butter, preferably Skippy or Jif brand

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease four 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins with cooking oil spray.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth and well incorporated. Remove from the heat.

Whisk together the eggs and egg yolks and the sugar in a mixing bowl, until well incorporated.

Whisk a little of the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture (to temper the eggs so they don’t scramble), and then whisk the tempered mixture and flour into the remaining chocolate mixture, to form a smooth batter.

Use two-thirds of the batter to fill the four cups or ramekins, then spoon 2 tablespoons of the peanut butter into the center of each one. Top with the remaining batter, making sure to cover the peanut butter completely. Bake (middle rack) for 16 to 18 minutes, until the cake looks just set but jiggles a bit at the center.

Gently invert each cup or ramekin on individual plates. Serve right away.

Chocolate Poundcake

(makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf)

This beats many chocolate poundcake recipes we’ve tried, as it has a soft, dense crumb and lots of chocolate flavor.

Serve it plain, or slice it thin and make tea sandwiches spread with cinnamon cream cheese, jam or a chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Make ahead: The cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, or wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 year.

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processed, such as Hershey’s)

2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

5 large eggs, at room temperature

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 325 degrees. Use baker’s spray to grease/flour a loaf pan, or line the pan with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Combine the cocoa powder and chocolate in a separate medium bowl. Pour in the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Combine the butter, granulated and brown sugars, the vanilla extract and the cooled cocoa mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld mixer; beat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each until thoroughly incorporated before adding the next. Reduce the speed to low; add the flour mixture in three additions, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Give the batter a final stir by hand; it might look slightly curdled, which is okay.

Pour into the pan, giving it one or two raps on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake (lower rack) for 1 hour and 10 to 1 hour and 20 minutes (longer time for the smaller-size loaf pan), until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If you see any bubbles forming on the surface in the still-unset batter, simply use a toothpick or cake tester to pop them.

Cool (in the pan) on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then dislodge and place the cake directly on the rack to cool for an hour or two before serving or storing.

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie Tarts

This is an easy upgrade to fabulous: brownies with juicy raspberries tucked in, and baked in 4½-inch round tart pans. In a pinch, you could use a muffin-top pan; the total yield may be greater and the baking time may be shorter.

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (64 to 72 percent)

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

½ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup heavy cream

3 large eggs

¼ cup flour

8 ounces fresh raspberries, rinsed and gently patted dry

Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Arrange four 4½-inch tart pans on a rimmed baking sheet, greasing each one with cooking oil spray.

Combine the chocolate, butter, brown sugar and heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat.

Whisk together the eggs and flour in a mixing bowl, then add a third of the chocolate mixture, stirring to incorporate. Stir in the remaining chocolate mixture to create a uniform chocolate batter. Divide evenly among the tart pans, then gently push the raspberries in each portion of batter.

Bake (middle rack) for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on how fudgy you like your brownies. (Press gently with a finger; they should feel soft but set.) For cakier brownies, a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Remove from the tart pans; serve warm, with whipped cream for passing at the table.