Chocolate dessert that makes you go wow
September 28, 2018 10:14 AM   Subscribe

When we have a lot of guests for a fancy meal, we have two different showstopper chocolate desserts as our go-to's - a chocolate mousse pie, a flourless chocolate torte, and a Concorde. I'd love to add another to our repertoire.

We're good cooks but not chefs. We don't generally have the time for anything that takes more than a day to make, or requires lots of painstaking effort (we have about a 30% success rate with macarons, if that's any indication). Nothing with hazelnuts or cream cheese, please, but otherwise send me your recipes!
posted by Mchelly to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
The Dessert Bible has a super good recipe for a fallen chocolate cake (aka lava cake) that is pretty easy but super good. They're each in little ramekins, which means you might need a lot of ramekins, and ideally you'd bake it right before serving it (though you can prepare them all ahead of time, and they cook for less than 15 minutes, so this isn't too onerous) but they are extremely delicious and look real fancy with powdered sugar sprinkled over them. (tip: for best cosmetic results, flour the ramekins with cocoa powder instead of flour; the recipe allows either)
posted by aubilenon at 10:23 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

This recipe was apparently printed in the Washington Post in 2007 or so. It's the best chocolate cookie recipe I've ever tasted. It's the only cookie which, when someone brought them into work, elicited a moan of pleasure from one of my co-workers. It's that good. Use the highest quality chocolate.


Makes 6 dozen cookies

These cookies are pure, rich chocolate, with a hint of coffee. Just for fun, place a nonpareil in the center while the cookies are still warm from the oven. Adapted from "The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion" (Countryman Press, 2004).

1 2/3 cups (10 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 2/3 cups (10 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Nonpareils (optional)

In a small saucepan over low heat, add the bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate, and heat, stirring frequently, until nearly melted. Remove from heat and keep stirring until fully melted and smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping the bowl down as needed. Add the vanilla extract, espresso powder and the melted chocolate, mixing until evenly incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until the dough is firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 2 baking sheets with nonstick spray oil or line with parchment paper.

Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9 minutes, or until they appear set. Remove from the oven and place a nonpareil, if desired, in the center of each cookie. Let rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container for 3 days at room temperature. Also may be frozen.
posted by blob at 10:23 AM on September 28, 2018 [13 favorites]

Yeah, chocolate lava cakes are pretty easy to do and are always popular. Plus you can do them ahead and warm them back up just prior to serving.

You could make little chocolate cups by dipping small balloons in chocolate as demonstrated here, and then fill them with a mousse or ice cream or something.

I was intrigued by the showstopper on Great British Bake-Off a couple of weeks ago where they had to put a dessert inside a chocolate sphere, which you would then melt with a warm sauce to reveal the thing inside. Of course, the ones they did were fairly elaborate (*loved* Kim-Joy's little toffee turtles), but the business of making a chocolate sphere did not seem to be terribly complicated ( a couple of people used the aforementioned balloon method actually), and the inside dessert would not have to be as over-the-top to be impressive.
posted by briank at 10:39 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's a total cheat, but King Arthur Flour sells a Chocolate Indulgence Cake Mix that is so good, I buy a box for the pantry pretty much every time I order from them. It is beloved and much requested from our pot-luck circle.
posted by librarianamy at 11:01 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

These pots de crème are rich and delicious.
posted by ftm at 11:01 AM on September 28, 2018

Best answer: Dark chocolate sorbet, from David Lebovitz, adapted by Smitten Kitchen who says: “This is not a sorbet for chocolate moderates. It’s for people who like chocolate to be all they can taste when they bite into something.”
posted by kittydelsol at 11:01 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Profiteroles. Surprisingly easy, even for a man of such rude culinary talents as myself.
posted by pipeski at 11:03 AM on September 28, 2018

This Dark Chocolate Irish Potato Cake. It's unbelievable. You do have to make three different things (all are super easy) : a dark fudge ganache (the outer "icing"), a Bailey's and coffee whipped cream (the inner "icing"), and the cake itself. This cake is killer, and looks gorgeous on a pedestal plate. I make it every St. Patrick's Day because Irish, and a few other times during the year. The ganache is amazing on anything, cream, pound cake, etc.
posted by the webmistress at 11:13 AM on September 28, 2018

This chocolate pavlova is fudgy and chewy and indulgent, and pretty dead simple. I'd never made a pavlova before in my life, and it came out perfectly the first time.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:13 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

The black pearl layer cake is fairly straightforward in preparation and impressive (and delicious) when served.
posted by Lexica at 11:16 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

I nth the pots de creme that ftm posted, because you can make them ahead of time. A pinch of espresso makes them special, as does non- or half-sweetened, freshly whipped real cream.
posted by Dashy at 11:25 AM on September 28, 2018

honestly no fancy overdone chocolate dessert has ever been as satisfying to me personally as a big monstrous slab of classic devil's food cake. i like it with a sour cream frosting that's somewhere between milk and dark chocolates, 2 fat layers instead of 3 slim, with frosting generous but not obnoxious.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:02 PM on September 28, 2018

I have no recipes because my standard is already a flourless chocolate cake (this one with ganache, to be exact), but have you had it with mascarpone whipped cream?? Because that elevates it to previously unreachable levels.

1 cup heavy cream
4oz mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
posted by lydhre at 12:11 PM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Another vote for the pots de creme. There are myriad other recipes for pots de creme, as well, if you want to play around.

A general overall tip, too - I started using dark cocoa powder when I bake instead of regular cocoa powder; it's a deeper chocolate flavor. I also mix in some black cocoa powder to really up the ante (black cocoa powder shouldn't replace the cocoa powder in a recipe 100%; I usually add a couple tablespoons to the cup before I measure out the rest of the cocoa powder, then fill it the rest of the way up with dark cocoa powder).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:37 PM on September 28, 2018

Icebox cake is the easiest thing in the world, but making the chocolate wafer cookies yourself brings it into "wow" land. I like the Smitten Kitchen recipe here.
posted by arcticwoman at 1:00 PM on September 28, 2018

Try our family favorite, Chocolate Angelfood Cake.
posted by Rash at 2:09 PM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

It may not be fancy enough, but this chocolate cake is hard to beat:

2 cups sugar
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups cake flour (or for a denser, moister cake I prefer, use regular flour, taking out 2 tablespoons per cup)
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water

Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans. Cream sugar and butter; gradually add eggs. Mix the flour and cocoa together and alternate adding flour/cocoa and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour/cocoa. Add salt and vanilla. Heat a little more than 1 cup of water to boiling and use a liquid measuring cup to measure out 1 cup. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water and add to other ingredients. Pour into pans and bake at 350 F for 25-35 minutes. (I usually find it's done or close to it at 25 minutes.)

This is the cake my mom made for birthdays, except she used shortening and cake flour and I've found I like it better made with butter and regular flour. I don't have an icing recommendation because my kids won't let me experiment enough to find a really good one. They want me to keep using the same okay one which I'm sure I could improve on.
posted by Redstart at 2:25 PM on September 28, 2018

Best answer: This Chocolate Ganache Tart with Cherry Vodka Sauce is my tried and true go-to. It's super easy to make, and unbelievably decadent (serve in tiiiiiny slices).

Over the years, I've modified the recipe a bit (a bit of espresso/coffee in the ganache, tweaks to the crust), but it's absolutely divine straight from the recipe.
posted by tillei at 8:07 PM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Whatever you decide to do, serve with fresh strawberries on the side. Chocolate and strawberries combine so deliciously well, IMHO.
Years ago, Vogue magazine ran a piece about how whiskey, single malt to be exact, paired beautifully with chocolate.
posted by Neekee at 8:09 AM on September 30, 2018

Response by poster: Wow - so many great options. Probably should mark them all as best answer. But I made the chocolate sorbet the last time we entertained and I'm still thinking about it. So so good, and not at all difficult to make. Looking forward to trying more of these recipes as well...!
posted by Mchelly at 7:17 AM on January 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

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