Sweet on someone? Let them know with salted butter caramel chocolate mousse.

March 5, 2024

Chocolate finds three perfect pairings with these Valentine’s Day-ready desserts. The first is a marriage of chocolate and salted butter caramel, in a luscious Parisian mousse that can be whipped up in minutes. Next is the Italian-inspired torta caprese, a glorious union of chocolate and almonds that requires just six ingredients. Finally, chocolate meets cherry in a cookie recipe with two varieties of chocolate. We also plump the dried cherries in balsamic vinegar for a treat that’s both sweet and sophisticated.

Salted Butter Caramel Chocolate Mousse

Makes 6 servings

With butter-and-cream richness, bittersweet notes from the chocolate and caramel, and sea salt to cut through the sugar, this simple six-ingredient dessert from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz is far greater than the sum of its parts. You can whip the egg whites by hand using a whisk, or use a hand-held or stand mixer. Whatever method, make sure the bowl and whisk are perfectly clean and free of any residual oil, which will prevent the egg whites from achieving maximum loft. (Note that the eggs here are not cooked.)

Fleur de sel is a hand-harvested, somewhat coarse-grained sea salt from France. Just about any variety of finishing sea salt can be substituted, but don’t use very coarse salt (the type meant for grinding). The salt particles in the mousse don’t fully dissolve; the little bursts of salinity are what makes this dessert so unique and delicious.

Take care not to overwhip the egg whites; stop whisking when they hold stiff peaks. Overbeaten egg whites appear dry and won’t incorporate well with other ingredients.

104 grams (1/2 cup) white sugar

3 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3/4 cup heavy cream

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

4 large eggs, separated

Generous 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (see headnote)

Spread the sugar evenly over the bottom of a medium saute pan or a wide, medium-size saucepan, then set the pan over medium heat. As the sugar begins to melt at the edges, use a silicone spatula to push the liquefied sugar toward the center. Continue to cook, stirring gently, until all the sugar melts, then caramelizes to a deep amber color and begins to smoke, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, quickly add the butter, and stir until melted. Gradually whisk in the cream and continue to whisk to dissolve any hardened bits of caramel.

Once the cream mixture is smooth, add the chocolate and stir gently until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the egg yolks.

In another large bowl, whip the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Using a silicone spatula, fold about ‚ of the whites into the chocolate mixture, sprinkling in the fleur de sel. Fold in the remaining whites just until no streaks remain.

Divide the mousse into serving glasses or bowls, or transfer it to a large serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours before serving.

Caprese Chocolate and Almond TorteConnie Miller of CB Creatives

Caprese Chocolate and Almond Torte

Makes 10 servings

This flourless chocolate cake from Capri, Italy — where it is called torta caprese—gets its rich, almost brownie-like texture from ground almonds and a generous amount of egg. Before grinding the nuts, we toast them to intensify their flavor and accentuate the deep, roasted notes of the chocolate.

Be sure to reduce the oven to 300 degrees after toasting the almonds. Also, take care to not overbake the cake or its texture will be dry and tough. Whereas most cakes are done when a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, a toothpick inserted into this one should come out with sticky, fudgy crumbs, similar to brownies.

We prefer the cake made with bittersweet chocolate containing 70 percent to 80 percent cocoa solids. You can, of course, use a lighter, sweeter bittersweet chocolate, but the cake will have less chocolate intensity.

Serve slices warm or at room temperature dolloped with unsweetened whipped cream.

217 grams (2⅓ cups) sliced almonds

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (see headnote), roughly chopped

199 grams (1 cup) packed dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon table salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Spread the almonds in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. Cool to room temperature.

While the almonds cool, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Mist the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray, line the bottom with a round of kitchen parchment, and then mist the parchment. Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and add the vanilla; set aside.

In a food processor, process 186 grams (2 cups) of the almonds until finely ground, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the chocolate and pulse until finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Add the sugar and salt, then process until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed. With the machine running, gradually pour in the egg mixture. Continue processing until the batter is smooth and homogeneous, about another 15 to 20 seconds. Remove the blade and scrape the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle evenly with the remaining 31 grams (⅓ cup) of almonds. Bake until the center feels firm when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with moist, fudgy crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cake, then invert onto a rack. Peel off the parchment and reinvert the cake onto a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chunk CookiesConnie Miller of CB Creatives

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

Bourke Street Bakery began in Sydney and now has multiple locations in New York City. The bakery’s dark chocolate sour cherry cookies, one of its most popular creations, were the inspiration for these fudgy treats.

Dried cherries hydrated in balsamic vinegar punctuate the cookies with bites of tangy, fruity flavor that offsets the richness of the butter, sugar, and dark chocolate. If you like, you can substitute dried cranberries for the dried cherries. Either Dutch-processed or natural cocoa powder works, though we think natural cocoa gives the cookies a slightly more intense chocolate flavor.

Wait to add the melted butter-chocolate mixture to the beaten eggs until the mixture has cooled so it’s barely warm to the touch, or it will overheat the eggs.

150 grams (1 cup) dried cherries, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

113 grams (8 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 8 pieces

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided

21 grams (1/4 cup) cocoa powder

130 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1 large egg

100 grams (1/2 cup) packed dark brown sugar

54 grams (1/4 cup) white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

57 grams (1/2 cup) pecans, chopped

Heat the oven to 325 degrees with the racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 baking sheets with kitchen parchment.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, stir together the cherries and vinegar. Microwave uncovered on high until the cherries are warm and absorb the vinegar, about 1 minute; set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add 1 ounce (¼ cup) of the chopped chocolate and the cocoa, then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool until barely warm to the touch. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the egg and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. With the mixer running on low, add the vanilla, then slowly pour in the chocolate-butter mixture. Beat on medium speed until homogeneous, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. With the mixer running on low, add the dry ingredients, then mix just until combined, about 30 seconds. Using a silicone spatula, stir in the remaining chopped chocolate, the pecans, and the cherries, along with any remaining liquid, until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Form the dough into 24 balls (about 2 tablespoons each), rolling each portion between the palms of your hands. Place 12 balls on each prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Bake until the cookies are slightly cracked on top and the edges feel firm, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the baking sheets and switching their positions about halfway through.

Cool on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies directly to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to .

Your custom text © Copyright 2024. All rights reserved.