Our best chocolate recipes hardly need an introduction. There’s layer cakes, chocolate cookies, chocolate frostings, mousses and puddings, pies and tarts, and everything in between. But I know you really just want to get to the recipes, so let’s do jus…
Our best chocolate recipes hardly need an introduction. There’s layer cakes, chocolate cookies, chocolate frostings, mousses and puddings, pies and tarts, and everything in between. But I know you really just want to get to the recipes, so let’s do just that.
Before we get into tortes and tarts, sheet cakes and shortbread, we have to start with the most classic chocolate recipes of all time—a soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe calls for 12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate; use a chopped bar or chunks, versus chips, for the most chocolatey flavor of all.
You’re going to love these coconut macaroons. I just know it. These chocolate-dipped macaroons are my favorite holiday cookie, ten years in the running!
Coconut macaroons (two o’s) are often confused with macarons (one o), the colorful and delicate layered French cookies. Both call for egg whites, but that’s about where their similarities end.
These macaroons feature rich coconut flavor and texture with subtle hints of honey (or maple syrup) and cinnamon. While you don’t have to dip them in chocolate, I strongly suggest that you do. They are the perfect little treat—satisfying and sweet, but not cloying.
These coconut beauties have a lot going for them in the preparation department. They look impressive with their high-contrast exteriors, but they’re easy to whip together. You can cram them all on one cookie sheet without consequence. Plus, they don’t require any artistic skills to decorate. Just dunk them in chocolate and be done. Can I get an amen?
These flourless cookies are naturally gluten free. They both freeze well and ship well, if you’re interested in mailing some homemade goodies to your loved ones. You’ll find the full recipe, plus step-by-step photos and a video below.
A freezer can be used to transform the texture and flavor of food.
The wonders of the freezer as a tool for preserving food are obvious, but the freezer can do a lot more than just store food. It can also be used as a cooking instrument. Some of these techniques have been written about on Serious Eats before. There's cryo-shucking clams and other shellfish; cryo-blanching vegetables and herbs like basil; tenderizing octopus; and hardening up squishy pork fat to make slicing easier.
However, there are other possibilities. If you were consult the Chinese home-cooking playbook, you'd find a whole host of techniques that use the freezer to transform the textures of food and enhance flavors in ways that would be difficult to achieve otherwise.
Many of these techniques predate the use of modern freezers. In Northeast China, it was common practice to store fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients outside the home during the winter, exposed to snowy sub-zero temperatures. Some of the ingredients would be kept there throughout the season and then eaten in the warmer months, but others would be cooked and eaten during the cold season. And when those ingredients were brought back indoors and thawed, they'd be markedly different, altered in fundamental ways. To illustrate how the freezing process can change ingredients, and for ideas for how to take advantage of those changes to produce delicious food, let's look at the specific examples below, each of which has an accompanying recipe.
Roasted Frozen Sweet Potatoes
My favorite application of this idea is also one of the simplest. During the winter, in many East Asian cities, including Hong Kong, where I grew up, you’ll find roasted sweet potato vendors parked on street corners. On one end of a small cart is a massive wok filled with pebbles, heated with coal. The vendor continually tosses the pebbles in the wok along with sweet potatoes to produce beautifully caramelized wok-roasted sweet potatoes with bright, fluffy flesh and a thin, papery, toasted skin. In cities with colder climates, the vendors are able to consistently achieve this cloud-like texture by first freezing the whole sweet potatoes before they’re roasted, either by allowing them to naturally freeze on the cart in ambient sub-zero temps or, in at least in a few cases I know of in Hong Kong, by deliberately placing them in a freezer.
As the sweet potato freezes, the water that’s inside the sweet potato forms ice crystals, which have sharp and jagged edges that puncture the cell walls of the flesh, altering the texture of the potato such that when it's roasted, it comes out more tender and fluffy. Based on further testing of this technique by Tim Chin (spoiler: he found this freeze-roast method produces the most delicious bakes sweet potato by far), there's an added benefit to the freezing step. By lowering the potato's starting temperature and then roasting it while still frozen, the potato spends even more time in a very special temperature zone between 135°F to 170°F (57°C to 76°C), the temperature range in which a natural enzyme in the potato called amylase starts working overtime to convert complex starches into sweet maltose sugar. This is something Kenji takes advantage of in his roasted sweet potato and mashed sweet potato recipes as well.
I've found that this technique works best on sweeter varieties of sweet potatoes, such as purple-fleshed sweet potatoes or Carolina ruby yams, where the naturally high moisture content exaggerates the effect of the freezing. On the flip side, roasting frozen white-fleshed Okinawan sweet potatoes (and regular Russet potatoes) isn't as effective.
Ice-Poached ("Cryo-Macerated") Fruits
The cuisine of Northeast China is deeply rooted in local agricultural practices, one of which is freezing fruits in the winter. One example of this are the Asian pears that are frozen and thawed repeatedly until the once-beige skins turn black and the interiors soften and burst with the juices.
The traditional way of eating the pear is to puncture the skin of the fruit with your teeth and suck up the natural syrup, after which you can eat the fruit in larger bites. The freezing and thawing process transforms the pear, picked when it's hard and sour, into a delight on its own. It still retains its raw pear flavor and tastes almost impossibly fresh, but its texture is soft, with a slight crispness, as if it had been expertly poached.
What happens within the pear is similar to what happens within the sweet potato, but of course the pears aren't subsequently cooked. However, the repeated freezing and thawing causes large, slow-forming ice crystals to break apart the cell walls in the fruit flesh, releasing flavor compounds and sugars. The process also damages the skin, causing it to oxidize (and thus blacken), but the skin remains intact, and I've found that it naturally protects the fruit flesh from freezer burn, making it possible to leave the pears in the freezer for several months with no ill effects. To borrow a term from wine making that describes freezing grapes before fermentation to weaken the skins and extract more tannin and flavor, the pear is effectively “cryo-macerated.”
To expand on this idea outside of traditional Chinese cuisine, one can imagine freezing fruits like apples, plums, and apricots to jumpstart the process of extracting sweetness and flavor from them as well, without having to cook them down, for raw jams, jellies, cobblers, or desserts.
Ultra-Absorbent Frozen Tofu
In a savory context, frozen tofu is a popular example of altering the texture of an ingredient by freezing it. Frozen tofu takes on a yellow hue and a more porous texture, which not only gives the tofu chewiness and a meat-like bounce, but also a sponge-like quality that allows it to absorb liquids and deliver more flavor in every bite. The effect is achieved, once again, with the help of ice crystals, which expand as they form, tearing apart the tofu's coagulated protein structure. When the tofu thaws, the water drains out through this web of lacerations, leaving tiny pockets of air throughout.
To enhance this effect, it's best to gently squeeze the thawed tofu between your hands, expressing even more water and increasing the tofu's absorptive potential while concentrating the flavor of the tofu itself.
These are just a few examples of how freezers can be used to manipulate both the texture and flavor of foods. When considering how else to use the freezer in similar ways, it's helpful to keep in mind two (related) effects freezing has on ingredients—softening and moisture loss—to determine whether using the freezer might be a good idea.
When considering softening, ask yourself whether there's likely to be any benefit to achieving a looser, more tender, and potentially spongier texture. Root vegetables like beets and taro, for example, might benefit from the softening effects of the freezer, as that’s the ultimate texture we usually look for. But leafy greens, cabbage, or Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, would become limp and unappealing for a stir-fry in which you want the vegetables to retain a bit of crispness.
As for moisture loss, it's an inevitable effect when freezing most ingredients, thanks to all that cellular damage from the ice crystals. While it works wonders with sweet potatoes, pears, tofu, and more, it can be a problem with ingredients like meats, where you want to retain as much moisture as possible. If in doubt, though, remember that there's little harm in experimentation. You may just stumble upon an entirely new way to prepare and enjoy one of your favorite foods.
The sound of my mother’s stainless-steel teapot clanking shut is always my signal that it’s time for chai. Chai has always been a part of my daily culture. As a child, I had the habit of walking around the kitchen table just to smell what was in my par…
The sound of my mother’s stainless-steel teapot clanking shut is always my signal that it’s time for chai. Chai has always been a part of my daily culture. As a child, I had the habit of walking around the kitchen table just to smell what was in my parents' cups. There was something so intoxicating about that aroma—sweet and spicy, cozy and warm. I started drinking chai at a young age, mixed with plenty of milk when I was too young for the burst of caffeine; even today, when I am most definitely old enough to handle the straight-up version, it is the absolute anchor of my morning routine.
In India, every family has a unique blend and the recipe is a deeply personal representation and tradition. My maternal grandmother's recipe is the one I cherish most. To celebrate my family’s blend, I created my own version of this special recipe: bursting with ginger and black pepper, and rounded out with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.
If you’re wondering what to make for breakfast or lunch or dinner or dessert, just ask our resident Carolina Gelen. She’s the creator behind so many of our new favorite dishes, from a garlicky tomato soup to an orangey olive oil cake that’s almost too …
If you’re wondering what to make for breakfast or lunch or dinner or dessert, just ask our resident Carolina Gelen. She’s the creator behind so many of our new favorite dishes, from a garlicky tomato soup to an orangey olive oil cake that’s almost too pretty to eat. Let’s dig in.
My love story with mofongo began in 2019 on a family trip to Puerto Rico. After we had dropped our bags off at the hotel, we ventured out to fill our stomachs. We stumbled into a nearby restaurant, and on the menu, there were a ton of mofongo options. …
My love story with mofongo began in 2019 on a family trip to Puerto Rico. After we had dropped our bags off at the hotel, we ventured out to fill our stomachs. We stumbled into a nearby restaurant, and on the menu, there were a ton of mofongo options. I distinctly remember my first bite: a mound of mashed, fried green plantain layered with garlicky, saucy, spicy chicken creole. From this point forward, mofongo became my favorite Puerto Rican dish, one of the many reasons I can't wait to go back to the island.
Mofongo is undoubtedly the most popular Puerto Rican dish. Its primary ingredient, plantains, is one of the island's most harvested crops, along with coffee and sugarcane. I wanted to try making mofongo for myself, so I reached out to Executive Chef Ramon Carrillo, a native Puerto Rican who helms the kitchens of Wyndham Grand Rio Mar. I first met Carrillo during my trip in 2019, where I devoured his mofongo at Iguanas Cocina Puertorriqueña and learned more about the soul-enriching dish. I learned mofongo originated from enslaved people from Angola and other parts of Africa, who brought plantains to the island in the 1500s. Not only is mofongo a favorite among locals, but it also represents the complex, often overlooked history of the island.
If you’re looking for a way to upgrade a cup of hot chocolate this holiday season, Cardi B has the solution. Wait…did you just say Cardi B? Yes, the rapper has joined forces with Starco Brands to release three flavors of vodka-infused whipped cream—van…
If you’re looking for a way to upgrade a cup of hot chocolate this holiday season, Cardi B has the solution. Wait…did you just say Cardi B? Yes, the rapper has joined forces with Starco Brands to release three flavors of vodka-infused whipped cream—vanilla, caramel, and mocha. The boozy whipped cream, duped “Whipshots,” is totally dairy-free and does not require refrigeration. It’s said to add a "playful shot of sophistication to any drink, dessert, or party" so that everyone can party like Cardi.
Whipshots hit shelves sometime this December, so if you can’t wait to dress up a piece of pie with a little bonus booze, you can make alcohol-infused whipped cream at home.
Warm Red Cabbage Slaw with tart apples is a delicious winter side dish with a lovely sweet and sour balance. A healthy complement to rich holiday dishes. Simple to make. Vegan and gluten-free. I once asked a bird, “How do you fly in this grav…
Warm Red Cabbage Slaw with tart apples is a delicious winter side dish with a lovely sweet and sour balance. A healthy complement to rich holiday dishes. Simple to make. Vegan and gluten-free. I once asked a bird, “How do you fly in this gravity of darkness?” And she replied, “Love lifts me.” ~Hafiz This...
These hot chocolate cookies taste just like the cozy drink, with a rich chocolate flavor and gooey marshmallow center. They’re divine!
Here’s a holiday cookie we just can’t say no to. These Hot Chocolate Cookies taste just like the holiday drink! The cookie batter channels just the right flavor of the liquid chocolate: it’s textured with sugar crystals and studded with chocolate chunks. The best part? A marshmallow center ties it all together, forming a melty lake of gooey bliss. These are divine. We’re not big cookie people (I know, gasp!), but these blew us away.
Ingredients in hot chocolate cookies
These Hot Chocolate Cookies are essentially a chocolate sugar cookie with a marshmallow center. The base cookie is inspired by a book by one of our favorite bakers, 100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer. Instead of mini marshmallows, the center’s got half of one big marshmallow, which melts into a gooey pile. Here’s what you’ll need:
All purpose flour
Dutch process (dark chocolate) cocoa powder: see notes below
Baking soda and kosher salt
Notes on Dutch process cocoa powder
The cocoa powder in these Hot Chocolate Cookies is special: it’s Dutch process cocoa powder. It’s been treated with an alkali to make it pH neutral, which gives it a darker color and milder flavor. It makes the flavor ultra chocolaty, like in Chocolate Banana Muffins and Healthy Chocolate Pudding.
These Hot Chocolate Cookies are easy to make, but you should know two things before you start. Here’s what to know:
Baking 1 tray at a time makes the most even bake. Our oven is a little uneven on the two racks, so cookies can come out a little different based on their difference from the heating element. To make perfect cookies, bake one tray at a time. (We know, it takes longer! But it’s worth it.)
Important: refrigerate the formed dough balls while baking. The dough becomes warm as it sits, so you’ll want to get those formed dough balls into the fridge during baking. If the dough is too warm, the marshmallow simply melts (instead of looking white, it turns clear). Trust us: we know from experience!
Otherwise, Hot Chocolate Cookies are pretty simple to make. Flatten the dough into a disk, add half of a large marshmallow, make a ball, and roll it in a plate of granulated sugar. It’s easy as that and they come out simply beautiful. The perfect Christmas cookie, in our opinion!
More Christmas cookies & treats
Looking for more holiday cookies? Here are our favorite easy Christmas cookies this time of year:
Mix the dry ingredients: Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and kosher salt.
Mix the dough: In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, cream the sugar and room temperature butter on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes until fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the vanilla and eggs. Once incorporated, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
Form the cookies: Prepare a plate with a layer of granulated sugar. Pull out 2 tablespoons of dough. Flatten it into a disc, then place a half marshmallow on top and wrap the dough around the marshmallow. Roll the ball in the plate of sugar. Repeat until you make 8 cookies.
Prep for baking: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add 8 cookies to a pan and stagger them so they have as much space as possible around them. You can bake the first batch immediately (go to Step 6). While the first pan is baking, form the other 22 balls and place them on a baking sheet in the refrigerator. It is important to chill the unbaked cookies because if they’re are too warm, the texture is off (you can also chill the dough and form the balls right before baking).
Bake: Bake one pan at a time on the center rack for 12 to 14 minutes until the marshmallows are melted*. Store for 3 days at room temperature, 1 week refrigerated, or several months frozen.
*If you prefer, you can bake 2 sheets at a time; baking one at a time ensures the most even bake.
Chewy gingersnaps are topped with a simple buttercream frosting for wonderfully seasonal Frosted Ginger Cookies! These are so good, you may want to eat them all year ‘round. This post is sponsored by Challenge Butter. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make My Baking Addiction possible. I am fully in holiday cookie-baking …