Because it is!
Find here the best gourmet desserts for an easy dinner party. The first one is the recipe for a chocolate tart.
Chocolate truffle encased in a chocolate pastry shell, - could it be any better?
And yet, it is quick and easy to make and is made with simple ingredients.
Chocolate truffle tart
This will need baking in a preheated oven at 180C, 350F, gas 4
For the truffle filling
First, prepare the pastry: sift the flour and cocoa into a bowl. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the flour mixture with the sugar and salt. Add the butter, and process for 15-20 seconds until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
In a bowl, lightly beat the yolk with the iced water. Add to the breadcrumb mix and pulse in the processor until the dough begins to stick together.
Turn out the dough onto a sheet of clear film. Use the film to shape the dough into a flat disc, and wrap the dough tightly. Chill for 1-2 hours till firm.
Lightly grease a 23cm tart-tin with a removable base. Take the dough from the fridge and slightly warm and soften, then roll it out between sheets of waxed paper or clear film to a disc 28cm across, and about 5mm thick.
Peel off the top sheet and invert the dough into the prepared tin. Prick with a fork, and chill for an hour.
When the tart-case is ready for baking, line it with foil or non-stick baking paper and cover with beans. Bake in the tart-case in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Take out and remove the beans and foil and bake for a further 5-7 minutes until the pastry is set.
Cool completely in the tin on a rack.
To make the truffle filling, place the cream in a medium pan on a medium heat and bring to the boil.
Remove the milk from the heat, then add the chopped chocolate and stir until well melted and smooth. Then stir in the butter and brandy or liqueur.
Strain into the prepared shell, taking care to tilt the truffle filling mixture to get it level and even, but do not touch, or the surface will mark and spoil the glossy finish.
Spoon the melted white chocolate into a paper-piping bag, and snip off just the tip. To decorate, drop neat rounds of a contasting colour chocolate, like white chocolate, evenly and carefully over the surface. To create the marbled effect, use a tooth-pick to swirl a random pattern over the surface of the filling.
Chill this dessert for 2-3 hours to set.
Serves twelve. Before serving this sophisticated chocolate dessert, remove from the fridge to warm and slightly soften. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
Chocolate dessert recipe for a rich classic Chocolate Brûlée
Preheat oven to 180C, 350F, gas 4
For the finishing touch for this brulée dessert, sprinkle around four tablespoons of caster sugar on top of the finished chocolate desserts. Then, either use a cook's blow torch (for a mirror-like finish) or place under a hot grill until the sugar melts.
8 small soufflé pots or ramekins, 150ml each
A bain-marie, or roasting tin with water in.
Pour the cream into a heavy-based saucepan and add the vanilla pod. Heat gently until the cream is too hot for your finger to bear, yet below boiling point. Take off the heat, and let the vanilla infuse with the cream for around 30 minutes.
Remove the vanilla pod, and, using the end of a pointed knife, scrape the seeds back into the cream.
Gently reheat the cream, and when about as hot as before (and not boiling) add in the chopped chocolate pieces. Allow to melt and keep stirring till smooth, then let this cream chocolate mixture cool.
Next, put the egg yolks and the icing sugar into a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until well blended. Then stir in the still-slightly-warm cream-chocolate mixture.
Pour into the soufflé dishes or ramekins, and then arrange the pots in the roasting tin (half filled with warm water) or the bain-marie.
Place in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until just firm. Remove from the bain-marie and allow to cool before placing in a refrigerator to cool overnight or for up to 48 hours before it will be needed.
When ready to serve, heat the grill to maximum, and half-fill the bain-marie or roasting tin with ice cubes and water.
Sprinkle the caster sugar over the tops of the chocolate brulée and either place under the grill to caramelise the sugar to a gooey golden colour, or use the cook's blowtorch for that professional finish.
By keeping the ramekins chilled you are making sure that the chocolate underneath stays chilled and does not melt.
Eat within one hour.
For a variation on this chocolate dessert recipe, the vanilla pod can be replaced with a tablespoon of dark rum added to the mixture at the same time as the eggs.
This dessert is eat eaten with chocolate crescent biscuits, chocolate crescent biscuits, which adds a nice touch to your dinner party dessert menu.
Another variation on the chocolate dessert recipe is the...
...Mocha velvet cream dessert recipe
To make this recipe simply follow the method as described above with the bain-marie when making the brulée.
Preheat oven to 180C, 350 F, gas 4.
You will require eight 120ml ramekins or soufflé dishes.
Bain-marie or roasting tin containing warm water for baking in the oven to set the dessert.
Put the instant coffee into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir in the milk. Then add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until the sugar and the coffee have dissolved completely.
Remove from the pan and add the chocolate; stir until melted and smooth, and add the liqueur and vanilla essence.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks lightly, and slowly whisk the yolks into the chocolate mixture until well mixed. Then strain the mixture into a jug, before dividing between the eight pots or ramekins.
Place in the bain-marie or the roasting tin with water half-way up the sides.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes until set and an inserted knife comes out clean.
Remove and leave to cool, before chilling completely. Decorate with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder or crushed coffee powder.
Here is a quick simple desert recipe:Chocolate sorbet dessert recipe
This is ideal for making a simple yet sophisticated dessert recipe, particularly when there are so many good quality chocolate to use for cooking nowadays, some beautifully flavoured with new and exotic ingredients. You could try the old favourite of chocolate flavoured with orange, or some of the more novel pairings such as lavender and chilli spices.
Alternatively, you can infuse your sorbet with flavours for guests to guess at when they are eating it.
Put the chopped chocolate into a large heatproof bowl. Place the water and caster sugar into a medium heavy-based saucepan, and heat gently until the sugar has completely melted. Bring the mixture to the boil, and boil until slightly syrupy.
Slightly cool the syrup to about as hot as your finger can stand. Mix gently until smooth before straining the syrup over the chocolate pieces.
Leave to cool and then pour into an ice-cream maker and churn until frozen. Or pour into a freezer-proof container and stir or whisk frequently.
Variations for a sophisticated dinner party dessert include adding one of the following - a small dried chilli, a small bunch of bruised mint leaves, a vanilla pod, cinnamon sticks, or coffee beans.
Use these different ingredients to infuse a subtle flavour. The best way to do this is to add them to the hot syrup when you remove it from the heat, before adding the chocolate. Let them infuse for 30 minutes, then remove, before re-heating the syrup to be hot enough to melt the chocolate, and then continue with the rest of the recipe.