Who can resist chocolate?
Alice Medrich, founder of the Cocolat bakeries in California, makes it difficult for those who try with her new cookbook, "Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts" (Warner Books, $35, hard-cover).Medrich's selection of recipes includes Chocolate Valentine Marquise, a buttery mousse; American Chocolate Truffles; and Diabolo, a deep chocolate torte finished with whipped cream and chocolate ruffles.
"Cocolat" includes tips on working with chocolate, a guide to different types of chocolate, and finishing techniques. The cookbook is illustrated with photographs by Patricia Brabrant.
"The Pillsbury Chocolate Lover's Cookbook" (Doubleday, $15.95) is a new collection of chocolate recipes from the food editors at Pillsbury. Included are recipes for brownies and bars; cookies; cakes, tortes and frostings; pies, tarts and meringues; frozen and refrigerated desserts; fudges and candies; breads, sweet rolls and coffee cakes; beverages and sauces.
Look for Chocolate Valentine Cookies, Chocolate Cream Puff Hearts and Chocolate Heart dessert. Also included: Chocolate Silk Pecan Pie, Pat-in-Pan Chocolate Fudge and White Chocolate Lace Basket.
The cookbook explains the difference between unsweetened and sweetened chocolate, explains why white chocolate is not chocolate, and provides chocolate substitutions.
Sharon Moore's "Brownies" (Fireside, $7.95) features 75 recipes including Basic Brownies, Church Supper Brownies, Healthy Heart Brownies and Blondies. Moore's frostings and toppings include chocolate ganache topping, peppermint frosting and maple glaze.
The following recipes for Walnut Squares and Classic Chocolate Truffles are from Medrich's "Cocolat" cookbook. The recipes for Fruit-filled Chocolate Meringues and Chocolate Waffles with Strawberries are from "The Pillsbury Chocolate Lover's Cookbook."
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces
6 ounces sweet butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons dark rum or rum flavoring
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup (3 ounces) ground walnuts
1/4 cup (1 ounce) sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
Confectioners' sugar and-or unsweetened cocoa powder, to dust the top
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square cake pan with a square of parchment or waxed paper.
Melt chocolate and butter in a small bowl placed in a barely simmering water bath, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Or cook in a microwave oven on medium (50 percent power) for about 2 minutes. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Stir in rum and set aside.
Beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until pale and thick. Stir in warm chocolate mixture, nuts and flour. Set aside.
In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat on high until stiff but not dry. Fold one-fourth of the whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it. Fold in remaining whites.
Turn batter into prepared pan. Bake in a 375-degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick or wooden skewer plunged into the center of the cake shows moist crumbs. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan on a rack.
When cool, cake will settle in the center, leaving a higher rim around edges. Press edges gently with your fingers to flatten and level cake. Run a small knife around the edge of pan to release cake. Unmold it upside down onto a cutting board. Cake may be prepared to this point, wrapped well, and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Cut cake into 2-inch squares. Use a fine strainer to dust with confectioners' sugar or cocoa. Stencil a simple pattern on each square, if desired. Serve at room temperature. Makes 16 squares.
Classic Chocolate Truffles
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into bits
3 ounces sweet butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup water
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Melt chocolate with butter and 1/4 cup water in a bowl set in a barely simmering water bath. Stir occasionally until mixture is melted and smooth. Or cook in a microwave oven on medium (50 percent power), stirring once or twice, for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in egg yolk just until incorporated. Do not mix or beat more than necessary. Strain truffle mixture into a 5- by 9-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper, waxed paper or foil. Chill, without stirring, until firm, about 1 hour.
Remove pan from refrigerator. Unmold and cut into 3/4-inch squares. If chocolate is too firm to cut without breaking, wait 15 to 20 minutes to soften slightly.
Put 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa in a shallow dish. Roll truffle squares in cocoa, rounding them between the palms of your hands. Dust your hands with cocoa as necessary to keep truffles from sticking. If the truffles are too hard to shape, wait until they soften slightly. If they are too soft, refrigerate until firmer. Truffles will look more authentic if slightly irregular, so don't try for perfectly smooth round balls. Shake truffles gently in a dry strainer, if necessary, to remove excess cocoa. Serve heaped in a candy dish, or place each truffle in an individual fluted paper candy cup. Makes about 30 bite-size truffles.
Note: Truffles may be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 10 days, or frozen for 3 months. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to soften slightly.
Chocolate Waffles with Strawberries
1 cup buttermilk pancake mix
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil
One 10-ounce package frozen strawberries with syrup, thawed
Heat waffle iron. In medium bowl, combine pancake mix and cocoa; blend well. Add milk, oil and egg. Stir until all dry particles are moistened. Bake in a hot waffle iron until steaming stops. Top each waffle with whipped cream. Spoon strawberries over whipped cream. Makes 6 servings.
Note: To make a syrup, thawed strawberries can be pureed in a blender or food processor.
Nutrition information per serving: 310 cal., 15 g fat, 80 mg chol., 400 mg sodium, 200 mg potassium.
Fruit-Filled Chocolate Meringues
For the meringues:
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
For the filling:
1 to 11/2 cups assorted fresh fruits
Fudge sauce (optional)
Heat oven to 275 degrees F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or brown paper.
In a small bowl, combine egg whites, salt and vinegar; beat until foamy. Gradually add sugar and vanilla, beating until stiff peaks form. Sift cocoa over beaten egg whites; fold into mixture.
Using a heaping tablespoonful of egg white mixture, drop six individual mounds of mixture onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Make a deep well in the center of each, spreading egg white mixture to a 3-inch circle. Bake in a 275-degree F oven for 45 minutes or until crisp. Turn oven off; leave meringues in closed oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven. Cool completely. Remove from parchment paper. Just before serving fill meringues with fresh fruit. Serve with fudge sauce, if desired. Makes 6 servings.
Note: Suggestions for fresh fruit include sliced peaches, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, kiwi fruit, raspberries, nectarines and oranges.
Nutrition information per serving: 150 cal., 0 g fat, 0 mg chol., 135 mg sodium, 130 mg potassium.