Anzac Cookies? Love them! Millionaire’s Shortbread? Grew up eating them. But what happens when you mash the two together? Utterly wonderful, joyous things, that’s what. When making the caramel, ignore your phone for a minute; Instagram® can wait, the caramel needs your total and undivided attention. Anzac cookies, if you haven’t come across them, are Antipodean favourites originally made to raise money to support the war effort in the First World War.
Don’t be intimidated by the fancy name—chocolate ganache is just a mixture of chocolate and cream. A good chocolate ganache recipe is incredibly versatile. It can be infused with herbs and spices to create vibrant and flavorful fillings for truffles, or even melted into milk to make a rich cup of cocoa. When liquid, ganache can be used to glaze a cake; when set, it can be whipped and used to fill or even frost cakes.
Florentines are pretty little lacy cookies, studded with sliced almonds and dipped in chocolate. These were in my childhood cookbook and I could not make enough of them. They are so simple to make and yet so elegant. Give these to close friends and loved ones.
For a cake that boasted deep chocolate flavor and color, we used a combination of Dutch-processed cocoa and melted bittersweet chocolate; the cocoa offered pure, assertive chocolate flavor while the chocolate contributed complexity as well as fat and sugar. Neutral-tasting oil allowed the chocolate flavor to shine. To minimize cleanup, we mixed the wet and dry ingredients directly into the saucepan where we’d melted the chocolate with cocoa and milk. A milk chocolate ganache contrasted nicely with the deeper flavor of the cake. To make the ganache thick, rich, and creamy, we added plenty of softened butter to the warm chocolate-cream mixture, refrigerated the frosting to cool it quickly so that it would spread nicely, and gave it a quick whisk to smooth it out and lighten its texture.
There’s nothing quite like a fresh, ripe fig. This recipe uses my favorite fruit, simply dipped in melted chocolate (dark or milk—equally good, the choice is yours) and dusted with crushed pistachios and rose petals. The end result is as gorgeous as it is tasty. These figs are lovely paired with wine and cheese or served on their own when you feel like indulging.
Hazelnuts from Piedmont are truly something special with their fine flavor and extremely crisp texture. Although they're beloved in many dishes, the flavor combination of hazelnuts and chocolate, called gianduia, is a Piedmontese favorite. Sometimes gianduia refers to a fudge-like confection that’s sold in bar form, sometimes to a spread (think: Nutella), and sometimes to the popular gelato flavor. But it’s also a favorite in cakes, and just about any cake from the region that features chocolate and hazelnuts might be called torta gianduia—some are dressed-up and multilayered, while others are low, lush, and glazed. We love the classic rustic version with a crackly, crisp top and a moist, dense interior that’s something like a nutty flourless chocolate cake. The taste and texture are dependent on a delicate balance of whipped eggs (for structure and lift), butter, sugar, bittersweet chocolate, and ground hazelnuts. The quantity of nuts was of particular import. We started with 6 ounces of chocolate and 1 cup of nuts, but found the chocolate overpowered the more delicate hazelnut flavor and the texture was actually too moist and fudgy. One and a third cups of nuts was better, but we still felt the cake could be lighter; we found that replacing a small amount of the nuts with regular flour—2 tablespoons—provided a rich, melt-in-the-mouth cake that wasn’t overly weighty. All this super-rich cake needed to finish was a dusting of powdered sugar for rustic charm. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Recipe by Maria Speck | Introduction by Food52's Kristen Miglore
Cupboard staples, flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt and milk combine over heat into a luscious chocolate pudding.
My father, Ivor, is from a small town in the center of South Africa and, although his family’s background is English and Eastern European, he was raised with strong Dutch influences. One Dutch passion he passed down to me is his love of black licorice, specifically the salty, chewy sort—not the soft, sweet kind. Whenever we visited family in South Africa, my dad would bring home bags of what we knew as dubbel zout (double salt)—coins of salted black licorice about the size of a quarter. I devoured them every chance I got, relishing the savory, saline exterior before it gave way to the barely sweet, chewy center. Dad’s other sweet vice, which I also inherited, is chocolate. Not white. Not milk. Simply pure and dark. So, it was in honor of him, and our shared love of these two confections, that I concocted this deep, dark chocolaty cake, which gets a touch of sophisticated salt flavor, plus notes of molasses and anise, from what might seem to be an unlikely partner: black licorice. Paired together, the two confections make for a brilliant duo that is both delicious and not-too-sweet.