Makes 2 (8-in.) layer cakes.

This dense, dark cake, filled with rich, sweet frosting, is a show-stopper. Buttermilk in the batter and sour cream in the frosting give a nice, edgy tang to both. (Lacking time, pick one up at Lucia's Bakery.) From Lucia Watson of Lucia's in Uptown.

The cake:

• 1/3 c. sifted unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1 c. boiling water

• 21/4 c. unbleached flour

• 1/2 tsp. baking soda

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter

• 11/2 c. light brown sugar

• 3 eggs

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• 1/2 c. buttermilk

Milk Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting:

• 6 oz. milk chocolate, cut into pieces

• 1/2 stick (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter

• 1 tbsp. light brown sugar

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1/2 c. sour cream


To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the cocoa powder and water and set aside to cool. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating until smooth. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the cocoa mixture and buttermilk, and beat until smooth.

Pour the batter into two 8-inch greased and floured pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the cakes spring back when gently touched with a finger. Take the cakes from the oven and cool on a wire rack about 10 minutes before removing the pan.

To make the icing: Melt the chocolate on the stove or in the microwave (following instructions given in the accompanying story). Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, beat the chocolate with the 1/2 stick butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and sour cream until fluffy. Spread some of the icing over one layer for a filling. Place the other layer over the filling and spread the rest of the icing over the top of the cake and sides.

White & Dark Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4 to 8.

This super-rich duo is wonderful with light, crisp champagne. Swirl the white and dark chocolate together in a big glass bowl or individual goblets and garnish with shaved dark chocolate. It may be made a day or two ahead.

• 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

• 1 c. white chocolate chips

• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 4 eggs, separated

• 2 tbsp. sugar, divided

• 1 c. heavy cream

• 1 tsp. vanilla

Chocolate shavings or raspberries, for garnish


In separate bowls or saucepans, melt the light and dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon butter each (following the instructions in the accompanying article). Allow to cool to the touch, then beat 2 egg yolks into each separate bowl until smooth. Set both bowls aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with 1 tablespoon sugar until stiff peaks form. In a separate medium bowl, beat the cream with the vanilla and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Fold half of the egg whites and half of the cream alternately into each of the bowls, so that both the chocolate and the white chocolate have equal amounts of egg white and cream folded into them.

To prepare for serving, spoon half the chocolate into a large bowl or individual goblets and spoon the white chocolate on top. Draw a knife through the mousse to create swirls. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until the mousse has set. Serve garnished with chocolate shavings or raspberries.

Triple Chocolate Strawberries

12 to 14 strawberries.

These pretty confections are so simple to make they hardly need a recipe. They may be dipped a day ahead and held in the refrigerator. After that, though, juices from the berries begin to release and they become gooey. Best to make and eat them as soon as you can.

• 12 to 14 fat, stem-on strawberries

• 8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

• 8 oz. milk chocolate chips

• 8 oz. white chocolate chips


Rinse and thoroughly dry the berries and set out on paper towels. Spread wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Using 3 bowls or saucepans, melt the three different chocolates (following the instructions in the accompanying article).

Holding each berry by the stem, dip it into one of the chocolates and set on the wax or parchment-covered cookie sheet. Allow the chocolate to set (this will take about 20 minutes at room temperature, or put in the refrigerator to speed the process).

Repeat this with the second chocolate layer and allow it to cool, then the final chocolate layer. Be careful to cover less of the berry with each dip so that the different layers are apparent.

When the berries have been dipped for the third time, arrange on a plate or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Chocolate-Espresso Frango

Serves 6 to 8.

Espresso Cream:

• 1/4 c. very strong espresso, cooled

• 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• 1 c. mascarpone

• 1/3 c. sugar

• 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

• 1/2 c. heavy cream, whipped

Espresso Chocolate Sauce:

• 1/4 c. very strong espresso

• 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate

• 1/3 c. sugar

• 1/4 c. heavy cream, or more as needed

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• Pinch salt


In a medium bowl, beat together the espresso, cinnamon, vanilla, mascarpone and sugar. Turn into a bowl and gently fold in the chocolate and whipped cream. Turn into a serving dish or tiny cups (espresso cups) and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

In a small saucepan set over low heat, stir together the espresso and cocoa powder. Stir in the chocolate and sugar and stir until the chocolate melts. Stir in the cream and the vanilla, adding more cream if it is too thick. Add a pinch of salt. Serve warm, drizzled over the espresso cream.

Ginger Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 2 dozen.

Here it is: the richest, most heavenly combination on Earth - spicy ginger and smooth silky chocolate in one big bite.

• 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

• 2 tbsp. water

• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 3/4 c. heavy cream

•1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1 c. crystallized ginger, cut into 1/2-in. pieces


In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the water, stirring occasionally, until smooth, then add the butter a bit at a time, stirring to blend after each addition. Gradually add the cream, stirring after each addition until the mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until cool and stiff, about an hour.

Sift some cocoa powder on to a plate. Line another plate with waxed paper. Use two spoons or your hand to make small balls out of the chocolate mixture, and roll them in the powder. Place a piece of ginger into each truffle. Place on the waxed paper and serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to a day or two.


Makes about 8 dozen.

These pretty buttery hearts melt in your mouth. They're great with the chocolate mousse or just by themselves with a cup of hot chocolate.

• 11/4 c. unsalted butter, softened

• 1 1/2c. sifted powdered sugar

• 1 egg

• 3 c. flour

• 1/2 c. cocoa

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 4 oz. semisweet, bittersweet chocolate or white chocolate


Cream the butter and sugar. Blend in egg. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt and add to butter mixture; blend well. Chill dough 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough about 1/4-to 1/8-inch thick, cut with heart-shaped cutters and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake about 8 to 10 minutes. (These burn easily, so pay attention.) Cool. Melt the chocolate (following the instructions in the accompanying article) and either frost the cookies entirely or drizzle chocolate over them.