3 adventurous chocolate baking recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth

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From galettes to brioche and cookie sandwiches, these intensely chocolatey recipes are a cocoa lover’s dream.

Given our unwavering love of chocolate and obsession with lockdown baking, it was only a matter of time before we found a way to combine the two.

No, we’re not talking chocolate brownies or chocolate chip cookies (as much as we hold a special place in our hearts for both of them). These days, we’re moving on to experiment with more adventurous chocolate recipes that allow us to remix the sweet stuff in new ways – no shop-bought chocolate bars necessary.

Looking to take things up a notch? Cocoa: An Exploration Of Chocolate, With Recipes by Sue Quinn (£25, Quadrille) is a great place to start. The cookbook collates over 80 unusual sweet and savoury chocolate recipes, from cocoa crackers to slow-roasted beef short ribs with cocoa and maple (yes, really), as well as fascinating stories of the history of chocolate from around the world. 

Below, we’ve three of Quinn’s most delicious chocolate recipes to share with you. The chocolate, banana and hazelnut galette is a surprisingly simple pastry dessert that can be whipped up with store cupboard ingredients. The rye chocolate brownies and peanut butter cookie sandwiches, meanwhile, are inspired by Reese’s much-loved peanut butter cups – perfect for satisfying your mid-afternoon craving for something sweet.

And if you’ve time on your hands for a little something different, the plaited black sesame and dark chocolate brioche loaf is a seriously pretty addition to your weekend brunch. Serve a slice of it warm and everyone will be sold.

All that’s left to do now is stock the freezer with your favourite ice cream. An hour in front of Netflix never looked so good…

  • Chocolate, banana and hazelnut galette recipe

    Chocolate banana galette recipe

    Antony and Cleopatra. Meghan and Harry. Gin and tonic. Chocolate and banana. Some couplings are just meant to be. This is a quick and delicious dessert you can make from pantry ingredients. Perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a cloud of whipped cream on top.

    Serves 6

    Ingredients

    • 200g plain (all-purpose) flour
    • 60g caster (superfine) sugar
    • 50g ground hazelnuts
    • pinch of salt
    • 125g cold unsalted butter, chopped
    • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
    • 2 tbsp runny honey
    • 100g dark chocolate (between 60–70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
    • 3 medium ripe bananas
    • 1–2 tbsp demerara (light brown) sugar, for sprinkling
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of milk, for egg wash

    Method

    First, make your dough. Using a fork or balloon whisk, whisk the flour, caster sugar, ground hazelnuts and salt together in a bowl to combine. 

    Transfer to a food processor, add the butter and pulse to a breadcrumb consistency. Add the egg yolks, a little at a time, pulsing between additions, to make a shaggy dough. Tip out onto a work surface, knead briefly and shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and place a baking sheet inside to heat. Warm the honey in a small pan and set aside.

    Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of baking paper into a circle roughly 35cm/14in in diameter. Carefully peel off the top layer of paper.

    Using a bowl, plate or pan lid as a guide, mark out (but don’t cut!) a circle roughly 22cm/8¾in in diameter in the centre of the dough. Using a sharp knife, cut out a circle 32cm/12½in in diameter around the marked-out circle: there should be a 5-cm/2-in border between the marked-out circle and the edge of the pastry.

    Scatter the chopped chocolate within the border of the marked-out circle. 

    Thinly slice the bananas and arrange neatly on top of the chocolate. Brush the bananas with the warmed honey and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the demerara sugar.

    Fold the border inwards, pleating and gently pressing to form a neat edge as you go. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

    Quickly slide the galette on its paper onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until golden and crisp underneath. Serve immediately.

  • Rye chocolate brownie and peanut butter cookie sandwiches

    The genius behind Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups was one Harry Burnett (H.B.) Reese, a former employee of US chocolate scion Milton S. Hershey. Reese set out to make his own name in the candy business in the 1920s and his peanut butter chocolate bites were an immediate hit. 

    Little wonder really, at least to those of us for whom these morsels are catnip: the sweetened peanut butter nestled in a chocolate case embodies the holy trinity of fat, sugar and salt. The circle was squared when Hershey bought the company for more than $US23 million in the early 1960s, and Reese was posthumously inducted into the American Candy Hall of Fame in 2009 (fantastic – but what took them so long?). I have developed these luscious cookie sandwiches in his honour.

    Makes 16 sandwiches

    Ingredients

    For the cookies

    • 120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 180g soft light brown sugar
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 125g cocoa powder
    • 35g plain (all-purpose) flour
    • 35g rye flour
    • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
    • ½ tsp fine sea salt

    For the filling

    • 130g smooth peanut butter
    • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
    • 40g icing sugar, sifted
    • pinch of salt, if needed

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3 and line a large baking sheet with baking paper. You will probably have to cook these in a couple of batches.

    Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or in a bowl with electric beaters until pale and creamy – this will take a good 5 minutes. Gradually add the egg and then the vanilla.

    Using a fork or balloon whisk, whisk the cocoa, both flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a bowl. Add to the butter mixture in 3 or 4 additions, beating after each, but only just enough to incorporate the flour – overbeating could make the cookies tough.

    Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls, about 15g each, and arrange on the prepared baking sheet with a 5-cm/2-in gap between them. Flatten with your palm to make discs 3cm/1¼in in diameter.

    Bake for about 8 minutes. The cookies will be soft but will firm up as they cool.

    Leave on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

    While the cookies are cooling, beat all the filling ingredients together in a bowl or stand mixer until creamy and smooth, adding salt to taste (this will depend on the saltiness of the peanut butter you use). Chill until needed.

    When the cookies are completely cool, spread some of the filling over the smooth side of one cookie, then sandwich another one on top. Repeat with the rest of the filling and cookies.

  • Black sesame seed and dark chocolate brioche loaf

    Chocolate tahini brioche

    This loaf is similar to Eastern European babka, a plaited loaf filled with chocolate that the world had gone crazy for as I was writing this book. My version uses black sesame seeds in the filling: I love their intense charcoal colour and the way they work brilliantly with chocolate. Unlike their white counterparts, black sesame seeds are still wearing their hulls, which impart a more intensely sesame, slightly bitter and smoky flavour. This makes a wickedly good treat for brunch: I exhort you to serve it warm.

    Serves 8

    Ingredients

    For the brioche

    • 250g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
    • 30g caster (superfine) sugar
    • 7g fast-action dried (active dry) yeast
    • ½ tsp fine sea salt
    • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing flavourless vegetable oil, for oiling
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of milk, for egg wash

    Method

    To make the brioche, place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a stand mixer and stir to combine. Add the eggs. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl a couple of times until all the flour is incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 10 minutes until it looks like a sticky dough.

    Reduce the speed to low and add small pieces of the butter, a few at a time – adding more once they’re amalgamated. When all the butter is used up, increase the speed to medium and mix for a further 10 minutes until the dough is shiny and elastic and comes away from the sides of the bowl cleanly,

    Lightly butter a large mixing bowl. Tip the dough onto a work surface and press out to form a rectangle about 2.5cm/1in thick. Working left to right, fold one third of the dough over itself, then do the same with the right side. 

    Repeat with the top and the bottom. Place the dough, seam-side down, in the prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside somewhere warm for an hour.

    Tip the dough out onto a work surface, gently press into a rectangle and fold as before. Chill for at least 1 hour – it has to be well chilled and firm to work with.

    Now, make the filling. Place the chocolate, butter and golden syrup or honey in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, stirring now and then, until melted.

    Blitz the sesame seeds in a spice or coffee grinder – they turn to a paste fairly quickly, but that’s fine. Add to the chocolate mixture, along with the remaining filling ingredients and beat with a wooden spoon until very well combined. Set aside at room temperature to cool completely and firm up a little. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with baking paper and dust with flour. Set aside.

    Once the dough has chilled, roll into a square roughly 30 × 30cm/11¾ × 11¾in.

    Spread with the chocolate filling, leaving a 1cm/⅜-in border all around. Pull the edge closest to you up and over the filling and roll into a log. Carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheet and return to the fridge to firm up for 1 hour.

    Using a rolling pin, gently flatten the log into a long rectangle about 30cm/ 11¾in long and 12cm/4¾in wide. Use a sharp knife, cut lengthways into 3 × 4cm/1½-in strips, leaving 2cm/¾in at the top uncut so they stay together. Plait the strips, then press the ends together and tuck underneath. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 hour.

    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 2. Brush the loaf with the egg wash and bake for 40 minutes until risen and golden. Serve warm, in thick slices.

    Cocoa: An Exploration Of Chocolate, With Recipes by Sue Quinn (£25, Quadrille) is out now in hardback and ebook

Photography: © Yuki Sugiura

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.