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Chocolate fans, this is for you! Here are seven great chocolate desserts to bake and share with your nearest and dearest this holiday season.
There’s a range of flavors, from gooey brownies baked on a shortbread crust to a marble chocolate orange olive oil cake big enough to serve a crowd.
7 Chocolate Desserts to Share
These crisp chocolate sandwich cookies benefit from a good Dutched cocoa powder, such as Valrhona or Droste--it really makes a difference. The white chocolate filling is flavored with essential oils--in this case clove, orange, and lime--which makes for a spicy tropical flavor combination that works beautifully. If you don't want to invest in three oils, feel free to choose one of these or any flavor you like, but only use an oil-based flavoring as anything water or alcohol-based will make the chocolate seize into a grainy mess. The tops of the cookies get cut out after the cookies are baked. You'll need a mini cookie cutter that's 1-inch or smaller, or you can improvise with a bottle cap (or skip the cutting-out altogether). You can use any white chocolate baking bar you like (I usually use Ghirardelli) but look for something that has cocoa butter in the ingredients and avoid white chocolate chips, which have additives that prevent them from melting smoothly.
These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are chewy, oaty, and so packed with chocolate the dough barely holds it together. I like to use dark brown sugar in these for its deeper flavor, but light brown sugar will absolutely work as well. You can either chop a chocolate bar or use chocolate chips for these, but whatever you do use a chocolate you like to eat on its own. It's worth splurging on the better grocery store chocolate chips like Ghirardelli or Guittard or chopping some Trader Joe's Pound Plus. I like to sprinkle the tops with a flaky sea salt like Maldon. If you don't want to buy that, you can skip it or sprinkle the tops very judiciously with kosher salt. You can scoop the dough ahead of time and freeze it if you want to bake them later.
This chocolate peanut butter tart is like a giant peanut butter cup with a crisp chocolate shortbread crust, a light peanut butter mousse filling with whipped cream and crème fraîche (that I could eat with a spoon on it's own). I like to use Skippy (or a similar style) creamy peanut butter rather than an all natural peanut butter because I find it blends better. I recommend using a high quality cocoa powder in the crust like Valrhona or Droste rather than the really cheap stuff (it's a place where splurging a little makes a big difference). I go for a chocolate in the 60-60% cacao range in the ganache, but it will work with any percentage of milk or dark chocolate you like (but I'd avoid chocolate chips which are made with additives that prevent melting smoothly). This tart is rich, so I like to serve it in small slices (10-12 slices per tart) but you do you.
These brownies are one of my favorite easy-to-make desserts. They manage to combine the decadent pleasure of a fudgy brownie with the crisp, buttery, nutty texture of almond shortbread. You can pulse almonds in a food processor to make almond meal if you don’t want to buy it separately. Or you can omit the almond meal completely if you want to avoid nuts. These are quite rich, so cut them small. You can always have a second one.
These skillet cookies are rich with brown sugar, an extra splash of vanilla, and studded with chunks of bittersweet chocolate. You can use chocolate chips or chop your own for little flecks of chocolate spread throughout the dough.
The tops are sprinkled with flaky sea salt before they go into the oven to give them a salty edge to cut through the sweetness.
It's worth noting that there are two common sizes of mini cast iron skillets. These are shown in 5-inch skillets. This makes six skillet cookies of that size.
You can also make them in 3.5-inch cast iron skillets. In that case, divide the dough into 8 portions and proceed as directed.
You can make these all at once if you have enough skillets, but you can also bake one or two of them and portion and freeze the dough to bake later.
To bake from frozen, add an additional 2 minutes to the bake time. (Don't thaw first.)
These cookies have a whole pound of bittersweet chocolate in them. The result is an intensely chocolatey, not-too-sweet cookie with a truffle-like texture. The rye flour here is subtle, but it brings in warm malty notes. Note that while these cookies are wheat free, they are not gluten free (rye contains gluten). Muscovado sugar is a dark unrefined cane sugar with complex molasses notes. It’s available at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods and online. You can substitute dark brown sugar, which is similar, but not as complex. For the sea salt, go for something with big flakes that will be perceptible as little salty nuggets of flavor. My favorite brand is Maldon, but you can use any flaky salt you like. Robertson recommends Valrhona chocolate, I used Guittard, but you can use any bittersweet chocolate you like in the 68-72% range (don’t use chocolate chips, which have coatings that won’t let them melt properly here). This dough is quite sticky–your life will be easier if you use a disher/cookie scoop and parchment paper.
This marbled chocolate orange olive oil Bundt cake has bright citrus flavor from the zest of two oranges.
There's some almond meal for bit of nutty richness, and espresso powder deepens the chocolate flavor. You can use either natural or Dutch process cocoa powder here. It's worth it to splurge on the cocoa powder if you have the budget—it makes a difference.
Use an olive oil that's on the milder side for this.
If you don't have Bundt pan you can bake this in two standard loaf pans.