Thursday, December 3

Chocolate-Coverd Cravings

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You know that visiting family and friends will hunger for lots of different foods, but one thing almost everyone can agree on is chocolate. Children like milk chocolate, and more sophisticated palettes often prefer more complicated and unusual flavor combinations. Here’s what you need — including a handy substitution list — to fill everybody’s stockings.

Crustless Chocolate Pie

Yield: 8 servings
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Melt butter in medium-sized saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and slowly add cocoa, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, flour and pecans, mixing well after each addition. Pour filling into prepared pie pan. Bake 24–25 minutes. When the pie is done, a tester should have just a smidge of chocolate on its tip. You don’t want to overcook this pie. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

Cardamom Spiked Chocolate Fondue

Yield: 4–6 servings
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken
  • 2 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
  • 2 whole cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the cream, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep for 20 minutes. Strain the cream and return to the saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl until the cream simmers. Remove cream from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Allow to sit for 3 minutes to melt the chocolate, then whisk until smooth. Transfer to a fondue pot if desired or serve immediately.

Chocolate Cranberry Scones

Yield: 8 scones
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar plus
  • 3 tablespoons, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut in chunks
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries (or cherries)
  • ½ cup miniature milk chocolate chips
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, ¼ cup of sugar, baking powder, zest, baking soda and salt. With a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like cornmeal. Add the cranberries and chocolate chips and toss to coat. Make a well in the center and stir in the buttermilk. The dough will be sticky.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, with your hands, pat it out into a 1-inch-thick circle. Cut into 8 wedges and place an equal distance apart on the prepared baking sheet. Evenly press the remaining sugar on the tops. Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Toasted Pecan Brownies

Yield: 12 to 16 brownies
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan and set aside. In a large heavy saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs and extract, mixing well. Add the flour and pecans, mixing thoroughly. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. Cool the brownies on a wire rack.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cream and semisweet chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until spreadable. Make sure the brownies have cooled completely and spread the mixture on the brownies before slicing and serving.

Easy as Pie Chocolate Tart

Yield: 8 servings
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 prebaked 10-inch pie shell
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the cream over medium-low heat until it begins to bubble around the sides. Turn off the heat and stir in the chocolate. Continue stirring until melted and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the eggs, one at a time, into the chocolate mixture, making sure the mixture is smooth before adding another egg. Place the pie shell on a baking sheet and add the chocolate mixture. Bake 20 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

Chocolate Souffles

Yield: 6 servings
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • ⅓ cup miniature milk chocolate chips
  1. With cooking spray, grease six 4-ounce ramekins or 6-ounce custard cups. Place on a baking sheet and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the bittersweet chocolate and milk in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in half the sugar, extract and egg yolks. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites at medium-high speed of an electric mixer until the whites begin to hold their shape. Gradually add the remaining sugar a tablespoon at a time, whipping until soft peaks form.
  4. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and spoon batter into each ramekin or custard cup, filling halfway. Sprinkle with the milk chocolate chips and fill the dishes to the top. Bake for 14 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Mississippi Mud Cake

Yield: 15 servings
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup plus
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 (10.5-ounce) bag miniature marshmallows
  • 1 (16-ounce) package confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 1-by-10-inch jellyroll pan and set aside.
  2. Melt 8 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the granulated sugar, cocoa, salt, eggs and extract. Stir in the flour and pecans.
  3. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk, the remaining butter and cocoa at low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth. Set aside.
  5. When the cake tester comes out clean, immediately top the cake with the marshmallows. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Drizzle the chocolate frosting over the warm cake and cool completely on a wire rack.

Ask Chef Tammy

Robbie Matthis would like to know how to make chocolate curls. “I have tried multiple times and end up with ugly pieces.”

Robbie, use a vegetable peeler with a long, narrow blade. If you warm the blade slightly, the chocolate will curl easier. Draw the blade along the narrow side for small curls and along the wide surface for long curls.

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Email your cooking questions to Tammy Algood:

Tammy Algood develops recipes for The Tennessee Magazine that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce.

Tips and trivia

Storage: Chocolate should be stored tightly wrapped in a cool, dry place. It likes temperatures between 60 degrees and 70 degrees. If the storage temperature gets too warm, the chocolate will develop a pale gray “bloom” over the surface. These streaks and blotches are caused when the cocoa butter rises to the surface. It can still be used, but is best to use in a baked product.

Equivalents: One square of baking chocolate is equal to 1 ounce. Any sweet chocolate pieces can be substituted for semisweet chocolate. For best results, use the type of chocolate called for in the recipe since each has its own special properties. One cup of melted chocolate is equal to 12 ounces or 2 cups of morsels or chips.

Cocoa: Natural cocoa is unsweetened. Instant cocoa is a combination of cocoa, sugar, starches and dry milk. Three tablespoons of cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening equals one square or 1 ounce of baking chocolate.

Trivia: What makes some chocolate gourmet? It’s the amount of cocoa butter used, which provides the quality known as fluidity.


About Author

Tammy Algood

Tammy Algood develops for The Tennessee Magazine recipes that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce. For more information about our recipes, contact Algood at

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