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Celebrating the Love of Chocolate

Celebrating the Love of Chocolate

It’s time again for our annual Chocolate Edition! Thanks to the fun of Valentine’s Day, the Test Kitchen at has converted into a veritable bakery, wholly devoted to all things cocoa. We’ve been drizzling and glazing and downright dunking as we prepare our Valentine treats. The Kitchen is full of doilies and colorful cellophane as we prep for school bake sales and pretty pink goody bags. Lucky for us, we never seem to be without tiny helping hands, eager for a taste of batter or a lick of the spoon. Sweetness abounds.

Jumping taste-buds first into this year’s list of chocolate indulgences, we find the simply marvelous Triple Chocolate Cake from Alabama’s Cynthia Martinez. I’ve had the pleasure of preparing and tasting a lot of chocolate cake in my day, but Cynthia’s recipe is a real stand-out... and it all began with a little online inspiration.

“I got this [idea] from a Pinterest board. Theirs just didn’t sound right, so I tweaked it and made it my own,” laughs Cynthia. “This is a very intense, thick chocolate cake.”

That delicious intensity comes from ample cocoa and rich chocolate chip mix-ins. Much of the cake’s wonderful texture, however, is owed to the smart addition of plain yogurt in the batter. Don’t worry, you won’t taste it a bit once it’s baked; It simply creates an out-of-this-world, almost velvety consistency. This recipe is guaranteed to cure your chocolate cravings. Rich and super satisfying, I’m going to come clean....I could eat the butternut-infused icing by the spoonful!

On the wonderfully wacky side of our chocolate exploration are Wendy Rusch’s Raspberry Red Velvet Lager Cupcakes! While simply chocolate cake at their core, these darlings are SO much more than typical. Wendy has earned numerous Just A Pinch Blue Ribbons for her recipes through the years, and never seems to tire of both inventing and refining creative dishes.

“While working at a Sweets & Eats shop I noticed we had a raspberry beer as I was about to make some red velvet cupcakes... Well, the two things just sorta combined automatically in my mind,” explains Wendy. “To those that know me, I know what you’re thinking: Oh, surprise!!!”

It’s that good-natured sense of humor that comes through in Wendy’s cupcake recipe. The effervescence of the beer leaves the cake light and springy, while the rich flavors of chocolate and raspberry permeate every brilliant red crumb. They are a true bright spot on any dessert table!

And for those even less traditional in their desire for chocolate indulgence, let’s toast to Lori Mead and her favorite drink recipe, the Mounds Martini.

“My husband and I love this recipe,” says Lori. “I discovered this [idea] when I was reading a book and the characters were sipping on [them]. Hope you enjoy!”

After some tweaking of a few base recipes she found online, we think Lori has perfected this luscious libation. Mounds candy bars and I have had a long, affectionate relationship, but they may have to take a back seat to this yummy drink! A brilliantly simple blending of coconut rum and chocolate liqueur, it truly is the perfect dessert drink to sip after preparing a Blue Ribbon meal.

Without a doubt, chocolate is one of our favorite foods. The rich, almost mysterious, flavors of the cocoa bean lend themselves so well to dishes of all types. And the appeal of a homemade chocolate dessert seems positively ageless, never growing tiresome or stale - much like love itself.

2011 Just A Pinch Recipe Club. Used by Permission.

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