Blogger and Cookbook Author, Sarah Kieffer shared some of her favorite chocolatey dessert recipes that are perfect for any special occasion, not just on Valentine’s Day!
Brownie Cheesecake Trifle
One 9×13 pan of brownies (your favorite will work!)
16 ounces (452g) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
20 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos)
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the cheesecake filling
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream on low speed for 30-45 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and continue beating, about 30-45 more seconds. Increase speed to high and continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly double in volume, another 30 seconds to a minute. Remove the whipped cream from the bowl and place in another bowl. Change to a paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and beat again until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed, 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla, salt, and heavy cream, and mix on low until combined.
For the cookie crumbs
In a food processor, process the cookies into small crumbs and pieces.
For the whipped cream
At least ten minutes before whipping the cream, place the bowl and whisk attachment you will be using in the freezer, and let chill. Add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla to the chilled mixer bowl, then place on the stand mixer and fit the mixer with the chilled whisk attachment.
Beat the cream on low speed for 30-45 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and continue beating, about 30-45 more seconds. Increase speed to high and continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly double in volume, another 30 seconds to a minute. The whipped cream can be made two hours ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
When the brownies have cooled, remove the brownies from the pan and cut into small pieces (you might not use all the brownie pieces). Fit one layer of brownies pieces snugly in the bottom of a 4-quart trifle dish or other glass bowl, trimming if necessary to fit. Gently spread the top of the layer with 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture, 1/2 of the cookie crumbs, and then 1/3 of whipped cream. Repeat to once more; finishing with whipped cream and any remaining cookie crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 24 hours.
Chocolate Mint Bars
Adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/8 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup canola oil
¾ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon mint extract (more to taste)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
4 ounces (113g) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 cup heavy cream
For the brownies
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease an 8 by 8-inch baking pan and line a parchment sling (a 9 by 9-inch pan will work, too).
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and the bittersweet chocolate until both are melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and add the cocoa powder, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla. Add the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 22 to 27 minutes, until the sides of the brownies have set, the top is beginning to crackle and look glossy, and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with crumbs. The batter on the skewer should not be wet, but should have a good amount of crumbs clinging to it. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Place in the refrigerator and chill for an hour.
For the filling
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium until creamy. Scrape down the sides and add the vanilla, mint, and salt. Mix on low until combined and then beat on medium for 1 minute. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time, mixing until combined, and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 6-8 minutes until light and fluffy.
For the ganache
Place the chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it is simmering and just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the plastic and whisk until completely smooth. Let cool to room temperature before using.
To assemble the bars
Spread the mint filling evenly across the chilled brownies. Return the pan back to the fridge and chill for 1 hour.
When the filling has chilled, pour the cooled ganache over the top, and using an offset spatula, spread the ganache in an even layer. Put the pan back in the fridge for 1 hour. Remove the pan from the fridge, and wait 10 minutes before cutting, to allow the glaze to soften slightly. Cut the squares and serve.