…As if anyone needs an excuse to enjoy this universally-loved sweet.
by Addie Ladner
A dive down our archives revealed that both our writers and our local chefs and bartenders love chocolate. In honor of the somewhat-commercialized-but-nonetheless-fun excuse to celebrate romance that is Valentine’s Day, we’ve rounded up a handful of must-try chocolate recipes.
More than just a list of cookies and cakes, we’ve got recipes for mole, spiked hot cocoa, an elevated s’more, and more. Use these 8 chocolate recipes from Raleigh foodies to make February a sweet one, literally.
Yellow Dog’s Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
This perfectly crispy and chewy peppermint chocolate cookie is perfect this time of year paired with a warm glass of milk (or coffee). “If you want to add a little crunch, roll your cookie balls in coarse crystal sugar. If you’re looking for some shine, sprinkle crystal sugar on them as soon as they come out of the oven. The residual heat melts the sugar just enough so it sticks to the surface. That will keep the sugar shiny and pretty without being overly melted,” says Tanya Andrews, owner of Yellow Dog Bakery. She shared this and other cookie recipes with us last December. This recipe makes a big batch of them, perfect to freeze and pull out when you have a sweet craving.
How to Make Yellow Dog’s Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Makes six dozen
- 3 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups cocoa powder
- 1 ¾ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ⅞ cups unsalted butter, softened
- 3 ⅛ cups sugar
- 3 whole large eggs
- 1 tablespoon peppermint extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until well incorporated. In a small bowl, add peppermint extract and eggs, one at a time, mixing until well incorporated. Combine your dry ingredients in a small bowl, then in three parts, add to butter mixture scraping the bowl between additions. Once mixed, portion and roll into 1-inch balls. (At this point, you can freeze the dough: freeze the balls on a sheet pan, and once they’re frozen, throw them into a freezer bag until you’re ready to bake.) Bake on a parchment-lined sheet pan for 16 to 17 minutes. Cookies should be dry in appearance on top and have a slight firmness at the edge.
Escape Chocolate Moose
“For my mousse, I chose Videri’s classic dark bar, because I wanted an intensely rich depth to my dessert,” wrote Kaitlyn Goalen from in a story titled Romance of Chocolate in 2015. We imagine using Raleigh’s own Videri chocolate would make a moose for the books with just enough rich, nutty, creamy and a tad bitter. Pair this one with chocolate beverage recipe next.
How to Make Escape Chocolate Moose by Kaitlyn Goalen
Serves 8 to 10
- 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 14 ounces Videri dark chocolate (or another high quality dark or bittersweet chocolate), chopped
- 6 large eggs, separated, plus 3 egg whites
- 6 teaspoons superfine sugar
- Freshly whipped cream, for serving
In a bowl set over a small pot of simmering water, add the butter and the chocolate and stir until melted and combined. Transfer to a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with a pinch of salt until they turn a pale yellow color. In a second large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form. Whisk a few tablespoons of the warm chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper it, then add the egg yolk mixture to the chocolate mixture in small additions, whisking each time to thoroughly incorporate before adding more. **Carefully fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.** Transfer the mousse to a large ceramic serving vessel, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Serve by scooping out helpings of the mousse into ramekins and topping each with a dollop of fresh cream. Or, if you’re eating with your loved one, eat the mousse directly from the dish with spoons like it’s a pint of ice cream. *Note: If your mixture breaks — that is, if the fat from the chocolate separates and the whole thing looks like an oily mess — quickly heat about 1 cup of skim or lowfat milk in a microwave until warm. Then, with an electric mixer running, add the milk in a slow drizzle to the chocolate-egg yolk mixture until it re-emulsifies and becomes smooth again (you may not need to use the whole cup). Then proceed with adding your egg whites.
Kids don’t have to be the only ones who get to enjoy hot chocolate. Thanks to Geoffrey Cunningham, who used to work at Green Light, WALTER readers can enjoy an elevated grownup version of the classic childlike winter beverage for children. He says it’s a warm drink that makes an excellent nightcap, combining rum, cream, and hot cocoa. “Amaretto-soaked marshmallows covered in almonds and caramelized (with said blowtorch, or over the stove, or with a garden-variety butane candlelighter) top it off. It’s delicious, whimsical, and a little bit unusual – Cunningham’s sweet spot,” wrote Mimi Montgomery in 2017 in Turn on the Light, where we first ran this recipe.
How to Make Green Light Room Inspired Trinidad Cocoa
- Footed 8 ounce glass (or any glass that can hold a hot drink)
- 1 1/2 ounces Zaya Gran Reserva rum
- 4 1/2 ounces hot chocolate*
- ½ ounce amaretto
- 2 large marshmallows
- Slivered almonds
Add rum to glass, then fill with hot chocolate until almost full. Add amaretto on top as a floater. Soak two marshmallows in amaretto, caramelize them (either with a blowtorch or over the stove), roll them in almonds, then use as cocktail garnish. Serve.
*How to make Hot Chocolate
- 10 heaping teaspoons 100 percent unsweetened cocoa powder
- 16 ounces heavy cream
- 14 ounces water
Mix 1 ounce water with cocoa powder in medium saucepan to create a paste. Add heavy cream to paste mixture and stir, making sure all cocoa is thoroughly mixed. Add remaining water and place on stove to warm to desired heat. Do not boil or overheat mixture.
“This dish represents the complexity of Mexican cuisine in the many ingredients it possesses, but also shows the culture’s humility, as it can be eaten with simple rice and tortillas,” said Angela Salamanca in the 2016 piece Dia de las Delicadezas . This would be a great unconventional chocolate-themed recipe to make for Valentine’s Day or another special occasion.
How to Make Mole Poblano
- 8 mulato chiles
- 3 ancho chiles
- 3 pasillas chiles
- 1 dry chipotle pepper
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- ½ ripe plantain, fried in oil
- ½ cup yellow onion, diced
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 dried clove bud
- ½ round tablet of Abuelita chocolate
- 5 black peppercorns
- 1 whole aniseed
- 1 stick Mexican cinnamon
- 1 small baguette
- 1 corn tortilla
- ½ cup lard
- 3 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 cups chile pepper water (see recipe)
- 1 gallon chicken stock
Devein peppers and remove seeds. In a flat pan, heat up the lard and toast the peppers; be careful not to burn them. Once all peppers are toasted, submerge in water for 30 minutes. Reserve the water for later. In the same lard (add more if needed), toast the almonds, raisins, bread, tortilla, onion, and garlic, one by one. In a separate pan with no lard, toast the sesame seeds and the spices.Blend all toasted and cooked ingredients well. Add chocolate and tortilla and continue to blend. Add the water from the peppers, then add the salt, then add the sugar. In a deep pan mix the chicken stock and the blended mixture, and slow-cook for three hours. Once you get the right consistency, it should be thick enough to coat a spoon. Add salt and sugar to taste.
Fanny Slater’s Date & Nutella S’mores
Wow, what an intriguing twist on a campfire favorite: in 2017, Fanny Slater wrote Raise the Bar , which suggests swapping marshmallows for… cheese. Slater writes, “for dessert, replace traditional marshmallows in-between Nutella-slathered graham crackers for an oozy soft cheese like brie. Add sweet dates for a meaty chew, and wash it all down with a robust, toffee-scented barley wine.”
How to Make Fanny Slater’s Date & Nutella S’mores
- 24 graham cracker squares
- 1 cup hazelnut spread
- 12 thin slices of brie cheese
- ½ cup pitted medjool dates, sliced thinly long-way
- 1 cup orange marmalade
Preheat a grill to medium heat (or your oven to 350 degrees). Lay out half of the graham cracker squares. Top each one with a smear of hazelnut spread, a slice of brie, and a few date slices. Spread the other graham cracker with orange marmalade and then place it jam-side down on the s’more. Wrap each s’more individually in a foil package and then place them on the grill (or in the oven). Cook until the brie is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm.
German Chocolate Pie
“Pecans have become a form of sweet-tooth truce. The nuts are iconic in both pies and cakes, starring front and center in a way that walnuts rarely do. They’re also widely grown nearby, and, in the wake of California’s drought, have become a more sustainable choice than almonds. What’s more, they’re best in the early winter, right after they fall from their trees and are harvested. This is a recipe that everyone can get behind, with a crispy, flaky crust and a center that’s both fudgy and textured,” wrote Kaitlyn Goalen in November of 2015 for A Sweet Toothed Truce.
How to Make German Chocolate Pie
Make 1 9-inch pie
- 1 ¼ cups pecan halves
- 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
- One 9-inch pie shell, homemade or store-bought
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 ounce good-quality semi-sweet chocolate
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the broiler. Place the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 3 to 4 minutes (watch carefully as broiler strength varies from oven to oven). Let the pecans cool, then slice lengthwise into slivers. Place the coconut flakes on the same rimmed baking sheet and toast until just turning brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the flakes to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.Turn the oven temperature down to 350°. Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (or dried beans). Par-bake the shell for 20 minutes. While the shell is baking, melt the butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When both are completely melted, pour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir to combine, then mix in the eggs. Stir the pecan slivers and coconut into the chocolate mixture until just combined. Pour the mixture into the par-baked pie shell and transfer to the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the center is set. Let cool slightly, then serve.
Another one by Kaitlyn Goalen from October 2015 offers an untraditional use of turkey. Goalen wrote, “once you bypass the zillion Norman Rockwell-worthy turkey recipes in the world, you get to turkey mole, a rich Oaxacan dish that is arguably the second most iconic way to cook these plump birds. The sauce is notorious for representing one of the few savory uses of chocolate. Along with a laundry list of spices and chiles, it’s thickened with nuts or seeds and used as a braising liquid for whatever protein is on hand: Historically, that was wild turkey.” While similar to the other mole recipe, this one’s a more involved recipe — luckily it freezes nicely (no surprise, since Goalen and wife Ashley Christensen have a new book coming out called It’s Always Freezer Season).
How to Make Turkey Mole
- 1 acorn squash’
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Canola oil
- 10 dried ancho chiles
- 10 dried guajillo chiles
- 10 dried chiles de árbol
- 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon aniseed
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorn
- 1 teaspoon cacao nibs
- ½ teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick, crushed with the flat side of a knife
- 3 cups boiling water
- ½ cup raisins
- 2 cups cubed stale bread or cornbread
- 4 to 5 cups chicken or turkey broth
- 1 onion, diced
- Cloves from 1 head garlic, minced
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 turkey breast halves
- Rice for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°. Halve the acorn squash lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and rinse under cold water, removing any fibers. Dry on paper towels and reserve. Rub the insides of the squash halves with 1 tablespoon of the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place cut-side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Flip the squash and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Leave the oven on. Remove the stems from the chiles. Scrape out the seeds, and reserve. Tear the flesh of the chiles into pieces and set aside. In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast the chile seeds and the sesame seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder. To the skillet, add the aniseed, black peppercorn, cacao nibs, and cloves and toast until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to the spice grinder, along with the thyme, oregano, bay, and cinnamon. Grind the spices to a powder, and set aside. (Alternatively, you could grind the spices with a mortar and pestle.) Add 2 cups oil to the skillet and heat until it reaches 300° on a thermometer. Add the chile pieces to the oil in batches, frying for about 20 seconds per side. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chiles to a heatproof bowl. When you’ve fried all the chiles, add the boiling water to the bowl and weigh down the chiles with a heavy pan to keep them submerged. Soak for 15 minutes. Return the oil to 300°. Add the reserved squash seeds and raisins and fry for 90 seconds. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Add the cubed bread to the oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the raisins and squash. Drain the chiles, reserving 1 cup of the liquid. In a high-powered blender, add the chiles, squash seeds, raisins, bread, ½ cup of the chile liquid, and 2 cups broth. Carefully puree into a thick sauce, adding more of the remaining ½ cup chile liquid if needed. Set aside.Peel the roasted squash flesh from its skin and place in a bowl. Add 1 cup of broth and 1 teaspoon salt, and whisk together to combine into a smooth puree. Set aside.Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven. Season the turkey breasts generously with salt and pepper. When the oil shimmers, add the turkey, skin side down, and sear until golden, 7 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer the breasts to a cutting board. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the reserved spice mixture and 1 teaspoon salt and stir until well coated, about 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chile sauce and the squash puree and whisk well to combine. If the sauce is very thick, add 1 to 2 cups broth. Return the turkey breasts to the Dutch oven and submerge them in the sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the center of each turkey breast reaches 150°.Remove from the oven, remove the lid, and let rest for 20 minutes. Transfer the turkey breasts to a cutting board and thinly slice (or pull, if you prefer) the meat. Return to the pot with the sauce and stir to distribute. Serve over rice.
From Sweetly Southern in July of 2016, Christin Kubasko shared this “treasured family recipe.” This recipe looked too easy to not share and who doesn’t love a chewy bar made of peanut butter, Rice Krispies and chocolate? “My Aunt Molly makes these for family gatherings,” she says, “and since we all live in different parts of the country, the desserts we enjoy are a tradition, and we can’t go without them.”
How to Make Aunt Molly’s Scotcheroo Bars
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
- 6 ounces milk chocolate chips
- 6 ounces butterscotch chips
Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat, and add the peanut butter and the rice cereal and mix until combined. Press the cereal mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan or onto a jelly roll pan (depending on desired thickness). Melt together the chocolate and butterscotch chips, and pour over the cereal mixture. Spread until the mixture is evenly distributed over the bars. Let set until firm; then cut into squares and enjoy!