photos by Jennifer Johnson
This year we’re opting to celebrate this lovely holiday with our close friends, eating and enjoying everything chocolate. Our recipes put this favorite sweet treat center stage, with truffles, double chocolately cookies, and a decadent tart that’s sure to leave you swooning. A sweet cocktail and some good bubbly are the finishing touches for an easy, make-ahead gathering to share with friends.
We’re a bit obsessed with Five Farms Irish Cream and love it in this simple cocktail to start our party. To make: rub the rim of a shot glass with a bit of vodka, then dip in gold sprinkles. To shot glass, add a layer of chocolate syrup, swirling slightly up sides of glass. In a cocktail shaker, add ice. Add 1-2 ounces Five Farms Irish Cream and 1-2 ounces vodka. Cover and shake. Strain into shot glass and serve. Repeat as many times as you need.
double chocolate chunk cookies
Thick, chewy chocolatey cookies, need we say more? Be sure to dust the tops with sea salt for the perfect hint of salty and sweet in every bite.
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet (or dark) chocolate chunks
Fleur de sea, for garnish
Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugars and mix until well blended. Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Scrap down sides of bowl as needed to incorporate all of mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add to mixer until just combined, do not overmix. Stir in chocolate chips. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop out cookies using about a 2-inch ice cream scoop and place on prepared baking sheet. Press down to flatten slightly (these cookies don’t spread much as they bake). Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden brown on bottom on edges (they will look undercooked in middle though). Remove cookies and flatten slightly again. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Cover in an airtight jar for up to 2 days, however these are best enjoyed just after baking.
Makes approximately 1 dozen (depending on size).
cook’s note: The cooking time will vary depending the size of your cookies. For smaller cookies, start checking after 7-8 minutes.
dark + stormy truffles
We’ve taken one of our favorite coastal cocktails and turned it into a bite-sized treat. We prefer these truffles made with equals parts bittersweet and semisweet chocolate for the best balance.
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, divided
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Chop bittersweet and 4 ounces semisweet chocolate as fine as you can with a sharp knife. Place chocolate in a heat-proof mixing bowl and set aside.
Heat cream in a small saucepan until it just boils (small bubbles form on outside of pan). Add butter and cook until it melts. Pour over chocolate and using a heat-proof spatula, slowly stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in rum until incorporated. Refrigerate mixture for at least 2 hours.
In a small bowl, combine sugar and ginger and set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, form chocolate into truffles. Roll quickly with hands until truffles are smooth. Place truffles on prepared baking sheet and transfer to freezer for about 1 hour (to keep them for longer, cover them well with plastic wrap and when frozen, transfer to a zip-lock bag).
Fill a saucepan with a little bit of water. Place a glass bowl on top, making sure water in pan doesn’t touch bottom of bowl. Add remaining 8 ounces semisweet chocolate to bowl and simmer over low heat until chocolate is completely melted.
Remove truffles from freezer (see cook’s note). Place a toothpick into bottom of one truffle, having another toothpick ready to help release it. Working quickly, dip truffle in chocolate turning it to completely cover it in chocolate (using a teaspoon here helps cover it as well). Use other toothpick to help release it from its bottom, taking care to keep top of truffle smooth. Place truffle back on parchment and dust a little bit of sugar/ginger mixture on top. Continue with remaining truffles. Chill until ready to serve, at least 1 hour.
Makes approximately 12 truffles.
cook’s note: It can be easier to do the dipping of the truffles into the melting chocolate in two batches, so that you can better control the temperature of both the melted chocolate and the cold truffles.
chocolate tart with salty pretzel crust
Be sure to use thin pretzels for the best texture ratio on the crust. You can also make it with same amount of chocolate wafer cookies or even ginger snaps, if you prefer. Regardless, this is a rich and decadent dessert, perfect for a big group to enjoy together.
Salty pretzel crust
Cooking spray, for greasing
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups finely ground pretzel crumbs
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Pinch kosher salt
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Fleur de sel, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat either a 9-inch or a 14x4.5x1-inch fluted tart pan well with cooking spray and set aside.
Make crust. In a small saucepan, melt butter. In a medium bowl, combine pretzel crumbs, sugar, and salt. Add melted butter and mix until well combined. Press pretzel crumb mixture evenly over bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Bake until just lightly golden brown around edges of pan, 10-13 minutes. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.
Make ganache filling: Place chocolate in a heat-proof mixing bowl and set aside. Heat cream in a small saucepan until it just boils (small bubbles form on outside of pan). Pour over chocolate and using a heat-proof spatula, slowly stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add vanilla and stir again to combine.
Pour chocolate mixture into cooled tart shell and smooth top out until even. If any air bubbles are visible, pop them with tip of a sharp knife. Smooth top out again and allow to set at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Once set, you can transfer tart to refrigerator, uncovered, until ready to use. Remove tart about 20 minutes before serving to allow it to cut easily. Top with fleur de sel just before serving. Tart is best enjoyed within 1-2 days.
cook’s note: If you use the rectangular pan for the recipe, you may have a bit of leftover filling. If so, simply put it in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it. You can scoop and roll it into individual truffles to enjoy later.