Brownieina jar

All Chocolate All the Time

Nothing is more synonymous with Easter than chocolate! From simple eggs and bunnies to sophisticated desserts like tarts, cakes, and cheesecakes, chocolate is the preferred way to finish a festive meal. Luckily, these recipes work well beyond the holiday, so file them away to enjoy whenever that chocolate moment arrives. 

CHOCOLATE-IRISH CREAM

CHEESECAKE WITH WALNUT CRUST 

                        SERVES 14 TO 16

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                                    Try this yummy Irish cream-laced chocolate cheesecake for a delicious Easter dessert. 

                        For the crust

                        1 1/2 cups digestive biscuit crumbs, such as McVitie’s brand  

                        1/2 cup toasted walnuts, ground (see Note)

                        3 tablespoons sugar

            3 ounces unsalted butter, melted

            For the filling

            8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped

            3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

            1 cup sugar

            1 teaspoon vanilla extract

            3 large eggs

            1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur

            2 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

            2 tablespoons cocoa powder

            Coffee beans, for garnish (optional)

            1. Make crust. Preheat oven to 325°F. In a small bowl, combine crumbs, walnuts, sugar, and melted butter. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; let cool on a wire rack. Maintain oven temperature.

            2. Make filling. Microwave chocolate in a glass bowl on HIGH for 1 minute; stir once. Return to microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring in-between, until chocolate is completely melted; cool for about 5 minutes. 

            3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth; add melted chocolate. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; stir in Irish cream. Pour mixture over crust.

            4. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until nearly set. Remove from oven; let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Run a knife around side of pan; remove rim. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.

            5. To serve, combine confectioners’ sugar and cocoa; dust over top of cake. Decorate with coffee beans, if desired. Cut cake into slices.

            Note: To toast walnuts, preheat oven to 375° F. Put walnuts on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven;  let cool.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE

            SERVES 8 TO 10

Flourless, “fallen,” or chocolate mousse cake is a year-round favorite. Serve with fresh berries, ice cream or whipped cream.

            9 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, roughly chopped

            5 ounces butter

            2/3 cup sugar

            1/4 cup ground almonds

            5 large eggs, separated

            Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

            Fresh berries, ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour.

            2. In a large glass bowl, microwave chocolate and butter on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir once; return to microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring in-between, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in the sugar. Remove from the heat, add the almonds, and then stir in the egg yolks, one at a time.

            3. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Spoon one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten, and then gently fold in the remaining whites. 

            4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is firm. (Cake will rise, form a crust, the fall again.) Cool completely, and then run a knife around the inside of the pan and remove the sides.

            5. To serve, dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar and serve with fresh berries. 

        TOFFEE BROWNIES IN A JAR

        MAKES 12

                  Make this dessert in 4-ounce jars for a lovely effect. You can prepare your favorite brownie recipe or use a package mix (I used Betty Crocker Supreme Triple Chunk mix that contains both chocolate chunks and chocolate chips). You will only need about half of the brownies to make 12 mini desserts.

        1 package brownie mix

        1 pint heavy (whipping) cream

        For the caramel sauce

        2 ounces butter

        1 cup (packed) light brown sugar

        1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

        1/4 teaspoon sea salt

        English toffee baking bits, such as Heath Bits O’ Brittle 

        Shaved dark chocolate, for garnish

        1. Make brownies. Prepare brownies according to package directions for an 8-x 8-inch baking pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

        2. In a medium bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form; refrigerate until ready to assembly.

        3. Make caramel sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar until smooth. Slowly stir in cream and salt; cook, without stirring, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until sauce is thick and smooth. (Store reserved sauce in a jar; cover and refrigerate).

        4. To assemble, cut half brownies into 1/2-inch cubes. Place 2 to 3 cubes in bottom of each jar. Spoon about 1 tablespoon caramel sauce on top of brownies; spoon about 1 tablespoon whipped cream on top of caramel sauce; sprinkle with toffee bits. Repeat layering, ending with toffee bits. Garnish with shaved chocolate. Refrigerate until serving time.

            CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE

            SERVES 12 TO 16

                        This cake, which is perfect for a large gathering, is enriched with cream cheese, making it both rich and moist.

            4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

            1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature

            1 1/4 cups Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted

            1/2 cup boiling water

            1 tablespoon vanilla extract

            12 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

            3 cups sugar

            6 large eggs, at room temperature

            3 cups flour, sifted

            2 teaspoons salt

            2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

            1/2 teaspoon baking powder

            Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

            Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

            Fresh berries, for serving (optional)

            1. Preheat oven to 325°F. 

            2. In the top of a double boiler, place chopped chocolate and cream cheese. Cook, without stirring, over simmering water until chocolate is almost melted; stir to combine. Remove from heat. Add cocoa and 1⁄2 cup boiling water, whisking until combined; whisk in vanilla. 

            3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or until light and fluffy (scrape down sides of bowl once or twice). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, espresso powder and baking powder. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in three additions, alternating with chocolate mixture. Beat just until combined (scrape down sides of bowl once or twice) 

            5. Coat a large tube pan with baking spray with flour. Transfer batter to prepared pan; tap pan a few times to release any air bubbles; smooth top. 

            6. Bake for 80 to 90 minutes, or until a skewer inserted near center comes out clean (cover loosely with foil during last 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning).

            7. Remove cake from oven. Invert cake onto a wire rack; return to upright. Let cake cool completely. 

            8. To serve, dust top of cake with confectioner’s sugar. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream and berries, if desired.