Working Chocolate: The Perfect Chocolate For Any Situation

February 21, 2012

By Veera Hiranandani

It’s 3pm. I’ve been staring at the computer screen for ten minutes not reading a word. I need something. After a late lunch, I’m not that hungry and I only drink coffee in the morning. I already know the answer. What I need is chocolate and luckily I have options. There’s a vending machine down the hall, but better yet a colleague of mine is kind enough to keep a bowl (that she constantly refills) of M&Ms outside her office. I trudge over, grab a handful, and put one of the shiny little gems in my mouth. A fantastic quick fix, I think, as the relief spreads over my tongue. M&Ms are the ideal chocolate for work-simple, neat, portable.

Flash back (or forward) to a luxurious Sunday morning. The New York Times is spread out on the table. My husband and I sip coffee and pass each other sections of the paper in blissful silence. We don’t have any plans for the day-a small miracle. So what do small miracles require on lazy Sunday mornings? Certainly not M&Ms. Their buttoned-up personality wouldn’t feel right. No, what this kind of morning needs is a chocolate croissant. It fits into the breakfast category, so I don’t have to feel too guilty. The salty, sweet layers of flaky pastry and warm chocolate filling take time, take focus, take napkins.

But you wouldn’t want chocolate croissants at a formal dinner or a hot summer picnic. As a child I always went to my parents’ friends farm for their annual July 4th picnic. They had the most incredible spread, along with swimming, soccer playing, and fireworks. People brought all sorts of lovely desserts, but for the kids just before the fireworks were about to start, an enormous cooler was brought out from the kitchen brimming with chocolate Fudgesicles. I hope everyone experiences at least once in their lives eating a Fudgesicle in shorts and a bathing suit while the balmy night sky lights up with fireworks.

As you might be able to tell right about now, I’ve given this a lot of thought, but then again any chocolate lover probably has. These things are important. Here are more perfect chocolate matches:

For a wedding–chocolate covered-strawberries are a must.

A long train trip–nothing beats a Hershey Bar with almonds. It’s usually a little too much to eat all at once (thought I’ve done it) and it keeps well.

Best gift chocolate (this can apply to Valentine’s Day)–the most expensive and inventive chocolate candies I’ve ever had come from La Maison Du Chocolat in Manhattan. Godiva works too. Russell Stover is unforgivable. German chocolates will make you my friend for life.

The brunch chocolate desert–a flourless chocolate cake (see recipe below) with fresh whipped cream.

The best fine restaurant chocolate–what could be more classic than a melt in your mouth chocolate mousse?

Rainy day chocolate–Giradelli’s hot chocolate made with milk and a dash of cinnamon.

The best junk food chocolate–a frozen Devil Dog.

Favorite chocolate cookie–it doesn’t get much better than Girl Scouts Thin Mints. I buy boxes when I have the chance and store in the freezer.

For the purist–Giradelli’s dark baking chocolate. No need to wait for baking to eat.

Child’s birthday–super moist chocolate cupcakes (the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook has a recipe that surpasses even Duncan Hines) with chocolate frosting and colored sprinkles.

In a lunch bag–brownies or chocolate chip cookies.

After school–a big glass of chocolate milk.

The best healthy chocolate–Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie frozen yogurt.

And finally what you’ve all been waiting for, the most romantic chocolate-(this follows the doctrine of less is more). Share a pint of Haagan Daaz Chocolate-Chocolate Chip ice cream in bed with your partner. I promise it will be a night you’ll never forget.

Flourless Chocolate Brunch Cake
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling )

1. Preheat oven to 375*F (175*C). Butter an 8-inch round baking pan and line bottom with a round of wax paper; butter paper.

2. Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well.

3. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.

4. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

5. Top cake with whipped cream or powdered sugar, if desired.

Veera Hiranandani is a children’s book editor, freelance writer, and chocolate lover living in New York City with her husband, dog, and cat. Unfortunately her dog and cat are not allowed to eat chocolate.

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