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Future Choc: Three Indulgent Desserts

For passionate chocolate lovers, chocolate is more than dessert. It’s the ultimate treat. But even ordinary people find that the holidays are the perfect time for indulging in a deep dark chocolate dessert.

Often it’s best to allow some space between dinner and a really rich dessert. Then make the portions small and present seconds to those who want them. Following dessert, offer a steaming cup of coffee or espresso with deep, full flavor. That’s what a good chocolate dessert deserves.

These dessert recipes have more in common than their chocolate; they can all be made ahead of time, which eases the pressures of holiday entertaining. The chocolate chip brownie torte gets better if allowed to stand several days in the refrigerator before serving (but glaze it the day it’s served). The same can be said for the Mocha Velvet Tart; it just seems to get smoother in texture. The chocolate-glazed marble angel cake also can be made ahead (and frozen); it’s no-cholesterol, an unusual characteristic for a chocolate-flavored dessert.

Many chocolate desserts are served with sauces that are rich, adding more fat to the equation. Here’s a recipe for a Maple Custard Sauce that’s moderate in terms of its fat content yet tastes like the real thing. It’s especially delicious with angel cake. If you prefer, substitute vanilla, Cognac or framboise for the maple flavoring. Pass the sauce separately or swirl it on individual dessert plates.

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MAPLE CUSTARD SAUCE

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted margarine

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons 1% milk

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2 large eggs, separated

Dash salt

6 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract

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1 1/2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt

Melt margarine in 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, whisk in flour and cook 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Place egg yolks in small dish and froth with fork. Stir in little of hot mixture. Whisk egg mixture slowly into saucepan. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Beat egg whites with salt until frothy. Slowly add sugar, beating until whites just hold shape. Do not overbeat.

Whisk egg whites into mixture in saucepan. Return to stove over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture feels very hot to touch but just short of boiling (it will puff instead of boil), about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately transfer sauce from pan to mixing bowl. Whisk vigorously until uniformly smooth. Add maple extract. Refrigerate until chilled. Stir yogurt in small dish until smooth. Add to custard, stirring well to combine. (Can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated, covered airtight.) Stir well before serving. Makes 2 cups, 10 servings.

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Each serving contains about:

79 calories; 54 mg sodium; 49 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0 grams fiber; 36% calories from fat.

Other than tasting absolutely wonderful, this torte slices really thin, serving a multitude.

GLAZED CHOCOLATE CHIP BROWNIE TORTE

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1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup sugar

7 large eggs, separated

1 tablespoon baking powder

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6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

2 cups walnuts, finely chopped

5 tablespoons fine, soft bread crumbs

1 cup semisweet chocolate mini-chips

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1 tablespoon vanilla

Dash salt

Chocolate Glaze

Butter 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

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Cream butter with 1/2 cup sugar until light. Add egg yolks and baking powder. Mix until smooth and flowing. Using wooden spoon, stir in melted chocolate, walnuts, bread crumbs, mini chips and vanilla.

Beat egg whites and salt until softly whipped. With mixer running, add remaining sugar by tablespoon. Beat until egg whites hold shape but are still soft. Add 1/4 egg whites to chocolate mixture. Whisk until combined. Fold in remaining egg whites. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Spread evenly. Place pan on baking sheet and place in center rack of oven. Bake at 350 degrees until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Place on rack and cool completely in pan. To remove from pan, carefully run sharp knife around sides to separate torte. Remove from pan. (Can be made and refrigerated as long as 5 days or frozen up to 3 months, wrapped airtight.) Spread with Chocolate Glaze before serving. Makes 10 servings.

Chocolate Glaze

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2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted

2 tablespoons water

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

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2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine butter, water, melted chocolate, powdered sugar and vanilla in small bowl. Stir until smooth. Refrigerate just until it begins to thicken, then spread on sides and top of torte.

Each serving contains about:

606 calories; 221 mg sodium; 180 mg cholesterol; 44 grams fat; 50 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams protein; 1.4 grams fiber; 65% calories from fat.

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This tart is crustless so it’s incredibly easy to make. Blanketed with whipped cream rosettes and decorated with candied violets, it makes a great presentation. Vanilla can be substituted for the whiskey.

MOCHA VELVET TART

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

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4 large eggs

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

1/2 cup hot or cold strong coffee

Dash salt

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1 tablespoon whiskey

1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Candied violets

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Line 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom with foil (best done by inverting pan, shaping foil, then placing foil in pan and gently pressing it in place). Lightly butter foil. Set aside.

Use mixer to cream 3/4 cup sugar and butter. Add eggs. Mix until fluffy. Add chocolate, coffee, salt and whiskey. Mix until smooth. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Spread evenly. Place pan on baking sheet.

Place pan in center of oven and bake at 350 degrees until surface puffs up at random, about 40 minutes. Cool on rack. Surface will fall back as it cools. If tart is uneven, gently press in shape with fingers while still warm. When completely cool, wrap airtight in foil and refrigerate overnight or as long as 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.

To serve, peel off foil and place on serving plate. Trim any uneven edges, if necessary. Whip cream, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and vanilla until thick. Spoon whipped cream into pastry bag fitted with medium star tube. Decorate tart with rosettes, starting from outside edge. Decorate with candied violets. (Can be refrigerated for several hours.) Serve chilled. Makes 10 servings.

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Each serving contains about:

456 calories; 61 mg sodium; 167 mg cholesterol; 37 grams fat; 30 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.2 grams fiber; 74% calories from fat.

It took a Midwest cookbook from the early 20th Century , which I discovered in the Johnson & Wales Culinary Archives , to give me the idea for a marble angel cake. But why not? If low fat isn’t your diet objective, serve the cake with rich vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce--it’s the best. Otherwise, this cake is the perfect low - fat answer paired with nonfat frozen chocolate yogurt.

CHOCOLATE-GLAZED MARBLE ANGEL CAKE

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1 1/2 cups superfine sugar

3/4 cup cake flour

2 cups egg whites (about 16 large)

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

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1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon cocoa, preferably Dutch process

Chocolate Yogurt Glaze

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Sift 3/4 cup superfine sugar 3 times. Sift remaining 3/4 cup sugar with cake flour 3 times.

Place egg whites in 4-quart grease-free mixer bowl. Beat on low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and salt. Increase speed to medium and beat egg whites until thick and hold shape but are still soft and moist, about 3 minutes. Add half of sifted sugar, 1 tablespoon at time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to high. Stop beating when whites are voluminous, hold shape, are very thick, shiny and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes more.

Transfer half of whites to mixing bowl. Gently but thoroughly fold 1/2 flour-sugar mixture into whites in 1 bowl, in 2 batches.

Sift 1/4 cup cocoa with remaining flour mixture, then fold into other whites, in 2 batches. Spoon batter, alternating white and cocoa, into ungreased 10-inch tube pan.

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Smooth with rubber spatula. Cut through batter in 10 equal places to break any large air bubbles and to marbleize batter.

Place pan in center rack of oven. Bake at 375 degrees until surface is brown and wood pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Invert center tube on wine bottle to cool cake completely.

Using flexible knife, loosen from sides and center tube, and then bottom of pan. Invert onto platter. (Cake can be stored at room temperature as long as 2 days or frozen up to 3 months, wrapped airtight.) Thinly spread top and sides with Chocolate Yogurt Glaze just few hours before serving. Sift remaining 1/2 teaspoon cocoa over top as garnish. Makes 12 servings.

Chocolate Yogurt Glaze

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1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup cocoa, preferably Dutch process

3 to 4 tablespoons nonfat yogurt

Dash salt

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1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift powdered sugar and cocoa into mixing bowl. Combine with 3 tablespoons yogurt, salt and vanilla until smooth. Add remaining yogurt if needed for spreading consistency.

Each serving contains about:

161 calories; 171 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1 grams fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 0.2 grams fiber; 7% calories from fat.

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