This chocolate cake recipe is a true chocolate lover's dream.  It is a very flavorful moist dark chocolate cake to
make for any type of celebration:
Your place for traditional Italian recipes
Valentine's Day Desserts
Chambord Panna Cotta
Amaretto Truffles

Cheesecake Strawberries
Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
Cookie Truffles
Chambord Panna Cotta
(Serves 4)

The Italian dessert panna cotta literally translate to "cooked cream."  Actually you only heat the cream long enough to dissolve the sugar and gelatin.  Chambord is a French black raspberry liqueur that gives the panna cotta a delicate flavor and light-pink color. This is an elegant looking dessert that is
actually very easy to make.  If you don't have molds simply pour the mixture into decorative glasses, such as martini glasses, chill, top with a little liqueur and a few raspberries, and serve


2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces whole milk
8 ounces heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Chambord Liqueur

4 tablespoon Chambord
Fresh raspberries


Butter the inside of 4 heart-shaped molds that are approximately 4 x 3- inches (hold 6 to 7 ounces)

In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and water.  Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream, and sugar.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Stir in the gelatin, sour cream, and 1/4 cup Chambord.  If there are any lumps in the mixture from the sour cream,  pour the mixture through
a fine strainer to remove them.  Portion the mixture into the prepared molds.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours to set.

When ready to serve, run a knife around the inside of each mold.
Dip the mold in to below the rim in a bowl of hot water for 10 seconds.
Place a plate over the mold and invert.  Add a tablespoon of Chambord to the serving plate.  Garnish with a few raspberries.  
Amaretto Truffles


1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cream cheese
3 tablespoons Amaretto
1 cup finely chopped toasted almonds


Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave until smooth.  Stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Beat egg yolk into mixture.  Beat in cream cheese and amaretto.  Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.  Shape mixture into 1-1/2 inch balls.  Roll in almonds to coat.  Keep refrigerated until serving.

Serving suggestion: 
Pour 2 tablespoons amaretto into a martini glass.
Add 1-2 truffles and top with whipped cream.
Cheesecake Strawberries

These cream cheese-filled strawberries are so easy to make and even more
delicious to eat.  They can be made a few hours or up to 1 day ahead.


12 large strawberries
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup chopped almonds or pistachios


Whip together the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar.  Put the mixture into a pastry bag with a decorative tip.  Cut a small slice off the bottom of each strawberry so it can stand upright.  Scoop out each hull with a small melon baller or paring knife.  Pipe cream cheese into each hole.  Sprinkle with chopped almonds or pistachios.
Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
(Serves 4)

These little cakes must be served warm.  The centers are still liquid when they come out of the oven and the chocolate will ooze out when served and cut into. Although these cakes must be baked right before serving, they can be prepared several hours or as much as a day ahead of time and refrigerated.


4 ounces unsalted butter, plus 1-1/2 teaspoons
6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
1/2 pint fresh raspberries or strawberries
Cocoa powder or confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Grease 4 (6-ounce) ramekins with 1-1/2 teaspoons of butter.
In a double boiler or microwave, melt 4 ounces of butter, chocolate, cream,
and confectioners' sugar until smooth.  Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt until thick.  Sift the 2 tablespoons of flour into the egg mixture and fold together.
Fold the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins.  At this point, the ramekins can be refrigerated to be baked later.

If the ramekins were refrigerated, bring them to room temperature 1 hour before serving.  Place the ramekins on a baking sheet. (this is simply for ease of getting them in and out of the oven)  Bake 10 minutes or until the sides of the cakes are set and the tops are puffed but set.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the ramekins for 2 minutes.  Run a knife around the inside of the ramekin and unmold the cakes onto serving dishes.

To garnish:
Whip the cream, confectioners' sugar, and liqueur in a bowl until stiff peaks form.  Spoon a dollop of whipped cream on each unmolded cake.  Top with a few raspberries.  Dust with cocoa powder or confectioners' sugar, if desired.
Serve warm.
Cookie Truffles

(Makes about 4 dozen)

This is a great recipe to make with children. Ready-made cookies are crushed in a food processor, cream cheese is added to form a ‘dough’ and rolled into bite-size balls that are dipped in chocolate.  You can use any plain ready-made cookies that you like; chocolate wafers, vanilla snaps, Oreos, gingersnaps, etc.  The cookies may also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin, or chopped with a knife but a  food processor just makes it a lot easier.  You can make the truffles into cookie pops by simply adding lollipop sticks.


1 pound ready-made cookies (I used chocolate wafers)
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or vanilla bark
Candy sprinkles or chopped nuts


Place the cookies in a food processor and pulse until you have fine cookie crumbs.  Add the cream cheese, a little at a time, until the mixture comes together like a dough. Remove the mixture from the bowl of the food processor.  Break off small pieces and roll into approximately 1-inch balls.
Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth; heat for a few seconds more if the chocolate is not completely melted.  Place the cookie balls, a few at a time, into the melted chocolate.  Lift each one out with a fork underneath and allow the excess chocolate to drip off.  Place the coated balls back on the parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Add candy sprinkles or chopped nuts while the chocolate is still moist.  Store the truffles in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature    before serving.
Cookie Truffles
Cookie Truffles
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Use your heart cookie cutters in lots of different ways:

POLENTA: Cut firm polenta and saute

BEETS:  Slice roasted beets and cut out hearts

FRENCH TOAST: Freeze the bread about 15 minutes before cutting out hearts

ICE CREAM SANDWICHES:  Use a butter cookie recipe; sandwich 2 cookies with ice cream

SCONES: Cut the dough before baking

CARROTS: Slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds while raw, then cut our hearts.  Add to soup and simmer until tender

BROWNIES: Cut the hearts after baking. Coat the cookies cutter with non-stick spray between cuts.  Brownie recipe
Giannetti Artisans Handmade Taralli Cookies from Puglia (Apulia) are a remarkable handmade product.  A small family run business in Bari makes the taralli with a secret family recipe.
These little chocolate cups can be filled with fruit, mousse, custard, or even peanut butter.
Melt bittersweet chocolate and use a small pastry brush to paint the chocolate inside silicone baking cups.  Refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes.  Repeat brushing on additional layers and chilling until they are the thickness you desire.  When firm, peel off the cup and fill. Use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to pipe in the filling.
The iconic Italian truffle known as Baci is a confection filled with gianduja, a blend of chocolate and hazelnuts, that comes wrapped in silver foil with blue print.  Still made in the heart of Perugia in Umbria, from its original recipe.
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