Admittedly, there are people who don't care for chocolate--there are also people who don't like diamonds or Rolls-Royces--but by and large the population adores it, and a certain percentage finds it positively divine.
Fortunately, because the sweetness of chocolate is so concentrated, often a small bite is enough to satisfy our sweet tooth. One slim slice of pistachio-studded terrine or a tiny scoop of sorbet (both of which store well in the freezer), a miniature chocolate cup piped with creamy mousse, a thin wedge of gateau that's enhanced by two fruit sauces, or a single ganache-covered petit four.
On second thought, one of each.
CHOCOLATE-ORANGE SORBET MAKES 2 CUPS 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder 2 cups water 1/4 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 teaspoon orange extract Orange zest
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. Set aside.
Combine sugar and cocoa in saucepan. Stir in water. Bring mixture to boil, stirring frequently.
Stir in reserved chocolate until well blended. Add vanilla and orange extract. Cool.
Pour mixture into container of ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
Spread mixture in thin layer on jellyroll pan. Freeze until slushy, then stir every 30 minutes until frozen to give consistency of coarse, churn-frozen ice.
Note: Mixture may also be poured into loaf pan and frozen overnight. Allow to soften just enough to be scooped before serving.
CHOCOLATE-PISTACHIO TERRINE MAKES 24 SERVINGS 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped 1 cup unsalted butter 9 egg yolks, at room temperature 3 tablespoons unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder 3/4 cup sugar 2 1/2 cups whipping cream 1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios 1 tablespoon brandy or Pistasha liqueur Finely chopped, shelled unsalted pistachios
Line sides and bottom (not ends) of 12x4-inch metal loaf pan with piece of 12-inch-wide foil long enough to overhang sides 2 to 3 inches.
Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. Stir occasionally until smooth.
Remove from heat and whisk in egg yolks, one at a time. Return to heat and cook until mixture thickens slightly.
Remove chocolate mixture from heat and sift in cocoa, whisking until smooth. Whisk in sugar. Cool.
Beat 1 1/2 cups whipping cream until stiff. Fold into chocolate mixture. Stir in pistachios.
Transfer mixture to prepared pan, smoothing top. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freezer at least 4 hours or until firm.
Beat remaining 1 cup whipping cream with brandy until stiff. Run thin spatula between terrine and ends of pan. Use foil to lift terrine from pan. Remove foil.
Slice terrine with warm, thin, sharp knife. Top each slice with dollop of whipped cream and sprinkling of chopped pistachios.
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE IN CHOCOLATE CUPS MAKES 12 SERVINGS 4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped 1 egg yolk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 cup whipping cream 1 (2 3/8-ounce) box chocolate cups 12 chocolate-covered coffee beans, optional
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. Remove from heat and whisk in egg yolk. Return to heat and cook, stirring, until mixture begins to thicken slightly.
Remove mixture from heat and stir in vanilla. Place pan in bowl of ice water and cool, stirring frequently. Chill.
Beat whipping cream until stiff. Fold into chilled chocolate mixture until well blended. Chill again until mixture firms.
Place mousse mixture in pastry bag with decorative tip. Pipe into chocolate cups. Garnish with chocolate-covered coffee beans.
CHOCOLATE GATEAU MAKES 7-INCH CAKE 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped 2 tablespoons milk 3 eggs, separated 1/2 cup butter 1/4 cup cake flour 1/4 cup sugar Powdered cocoa
Melt chocolate and milk in top of double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. When smooth, remove from heat and stir in egg yolks one at time. Return to heat to cook egg yolks slightly, stirring constantly.
Remove pan from heat and stir in butter, small pieces at a time, until all is melted. Stir in flour.
Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Add sugar slowly while continuing to beat until stiff. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture.
Pour batter into 7-inch springform pan that has been buttered, dusted with powdered cocoa and lined with parchment. Bake at 375 degrees 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake 20 minutes more.
Allow cake to cool 30 minutes before unmolding. Cut into wedges and serve with raspberry, apricot or other fruit sauces, if desired.
PETITS FOURS MAKES 64 PETIT FOURS Melted butter 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate 4 eggs, separated 1 cup unsalted butter 2 cups sugar 2 cups flour Dash salt Ganache Melted milk or white chocolate
Line 9-inch square baking pan with foil. Lightly brush bottom and sides of pan with melted butter. Set aside.
Place chocolate in top of double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Cool slightly.
Beat egg yolk in small bowl until pale-lemon colored. Set aside.