Easter is the largest candy holiday in the United States. A large percentage of this candy is chocolate. Chocolate is also an excellent ingredient in many desserts.

Chocolate has been around since the beginning of time. In Mexico, it was often used to make beverages. Columbus brought cacao beans back to Spain after his fourth voyage to the new world where it continued to be used as a beverage. In 1847, Englishman Joseph Fry discovered that adding cocoa powder and sugar to melted cocoa butter allowed him to mold chocolate. Thus the chocolate bar was born. It wasn’t until 1893 that Milton Hershey purchased chocolate processing equipment and began the career of Hershey’s chocolate that we all know and love today.

White chocolate, which is a favorite of mine, is actually not chocolate at all. Since it contains no cocoa solids at all, many countries do not consider it chocolate at all. Since there is no cocoa solids, white chocolate does not contain theobromine or caffeine, which makes it safe for animals. But lets talk about regular chocolate with the following recipes.

Here is a fancy twist on a chocolate dessert. Many people think that a Creme Bruleé is hard to make. This easy to make dessert looks like you spent hours creating it.. Finishing the dessert allows me to use one of my favorite kitchen tools, my small torch. Of course if you don’t have one, you can always caramelize the sugar under a broiler.

Chocolate Creme Bruleé

6 Egg Yolks
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1 quart Heavy Cream
6 ounces Chocolate, finely and evenly chopped
1 Vanilla Bean, seeds scraped

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl. Bring cream to a simmer with vanilla bean. Remove bean and add chocolate. Let rest in order for the chocolate to melt. Add cooled cream mixture to sugar and yolk mixture and blend. Place in ramekins, in a water bath, and cook for approximately 20 minutes, until set. Remove and chill. Before serving, sprinkle sugar on top and torch or broil to caramelize the sugar.

Here is a great recipe for the spring and summer months. This easily made dessert makes a great ending to any meal. That is, if you can wait till the end of the meal to eat it. It also makes for a wonderful afternoon snack.

Whipped Chocolate Cheesecake Parfait

1 cup cold Heavy Whipping Cream
8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
2 tablespoons Milk
Grated Dark Chocolate for garnish

Using a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside. Mix cream cheese, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and milk together until fully combined. Reserve enough whipped cream for topping. Add the remaining whipped cream to cream cheese mixture and slowly mix until combined. Spoon whipped chocolate cheesecake into shallow stemmed glasses. Top with whipped cream and grated dark chocolate. If you wish, fresh strawberries or raspberries make a great topping also.

This next recipe is a chocoholic’s delight. This flourless cake is enough to satisfy all of your chocolate cravings. This recipe is from the greatest chef I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, Warren Leruth. I don’t think there will ever be a chef as talented as he was.

Pave au Chocolate

1 8-inch Cake pan, lined with waxed paper
12 Eggs, separate yolks from whites
12 ounces Butter, melted
12 ounces Dark Chocolate
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract

In a double boiler, melt chocolate and remove from heat. Beat egg yolks and fold them into the melted chocolate. Next, fold in the melted butter. Whip egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into pan and chill overnight. Slice and serve with whipped cream.

I hope that these recipes satisfy your sweet tooth. Until next time, keep on cooking!