After sampling a couple of savory chocolate hors d'oeuvres, treat guests to a scrumptious chocolate orange cake.
No wine and chocolate tasting is complete without a salty sweet combination, so fill bowls with chocolate-almond saltine toffee. Supplement these homemade dishes with store bought chocolate truffles.
For the super scrumptious recipes,
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, chopped
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
Large chocolate shards or curls (from 1- to 2-inch-thick 8-ounce piece bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
Additional toasted husked hazelnuts
Candied orange peel strips
- For cake: preheat oven to 325°F. Line 13x9x1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper; butter parchment.
- Combine first 4 ingredients in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water; stir until chocolate and butter melt. Remove bowl from over water; stir in salt (mixture will be grainy).
- Beat eggs and 2 tablespoons sugar in another medium bowl until pale, about 6 minutes; fold into chocolate mixture.
- Fold in flour, then hazelnuts. Spread batter evenly on baking sheet.
- Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 13 minutes (cake will be thin). Transfer pan to rack. Cool cake completely.
- For filling: combine chocolates in medium metal bowl. Bring 1 cup cream to simmer in small saucepan; pour cream over chocolates and let stand 1 minute. Stir until melted and smooth. Chill mixture until firm, about 2 hours.
- Place bowl with chilled chocolate mixture over saucepan of barely simmering water until mixture is partially melted (do not stir), about 5 minutes.
- Remove bowl from over water; add butter to bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until filling is thick and glossy, about 3 minutes.
- Using clean dry beaters, beat 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream in another medium bowl until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into filling.
- Cover 14x5-inch cardboard rectangle with foil.
- Invert cake onto work surface; remove parchment. Cut cake lengthwise in half.
- Place 1 cake half on foil-covered cardboard. Spread 1/2 cup chocolate filling over. Top with second cake half. Spoon remaining filling into pastry bag fitted with large plain round tip. Pipe filling atop cake in side-by-side lengthwise rows, then smooth top. Chill until filling is firm, about 1 hour.
- For glaze: bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in small saucepan. Remove from heat.
- Add chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add butter; stir until melted. Let stand until barely lukewarm but still pourable, about 20 minutes.
- Place cardboard base with cake on rack set over rimmed baking sheet. Spoon glaze over top of cake, allowing glaze to run down sides. Using offset spatula, smooth glaze over sides. Mound chocolate shards or curls over top and sides of cake. Garnish with hazelnuts and candied orange peel. Refrigerate until glaze is set, at least 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.)
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds (6 ounces)
Approximately 60 saltine crackers (not low-sodium)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 sticks (3/4 pound) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350°, spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for about 6 minutes, until golden.
- Line a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat or lightly buttered parchment paper. Arrange the saltine crackers on the baking sheet in a single layer, patching any holes with cracker bits; slight gaps are okay.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and corn syrup and cook over low heat until the sugar is melted. Brush the side of the pan with a moistened pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals. Cook the syrup over moderate heat without stirring until it starts to brown around the edge, about 5 minutes.
- Insert a candy thermometer into the syrup and simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon, until honey-colored caramel forms and the temperature reaches 300°, about 6 minutes longer.
- Slowly and carefully pour the caramel over the crackers, being sure to cover most of them evenly. Using an offset spatula, spread the caramel to cover any gaps. Let cool for 3 minutes, then sprinkle the chopped chocolate evenly on top.
- Let stand until the chocolate is melted, about 3 minutes, then spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee.
- Spread the almonds evenly over the chocolate. Freeze the toffee until set, about 15 minutes.
- Invert the toffee onto a work surface and peel off the mat or paper. Invert again, break into large shards and serve.
Makes 2 1/2 pounds.
Make ahead: the chocolate-almond saltine toffee can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.