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Chocolate Lava Cakes; photograph by Olga Ivanova
A box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day is a lovely gesture, but it just can’t compare to Valentine’s Day treats made in your own kitchen. Homemade rich chocolate truffles, cakes, pies, and even fancy soufflés are more memorable, more personal (and hey, more show-offy) for your loved ones than the stuff you get in a restaurant or store. Plus, homemade chocolate desserts make for uber-romantic gifts — and super-special ways to cap off dinner.
While lists of Valentine’s Day dessert recipes do often include beautiful fruit tarts, red velvet cake, pastel-colored French macarons, raspberry linzer cookies, and fancy caramels, in my book, February 14th should be all about chocolate. Chocolate is decadent, chocolate is sexy, chocolate is romantic. Do you need anymore convincing?
Chocolate lovers, unite! Which one of these mouthwatering chocolate desserts will you create?
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Chocolate cake recipes
Chocolate cake is simply classic, and it pays to have a good recipe in your back pocket. (In fact, you might want to bake one every month of the year.) You can’t lose with a moist, intensely chocolate version like this chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting. Note that in addition to flour, cocoa powder, eggs, and the other usual suspects, this recipe uses vegetable oil for moist, dense texture (the best kind) and butter for a fluffy frosting. Feel free to add sprinkles for a festive look.
Which brings me to an important note about cake-baking: You don’t need a mix. As long as you have flour, cocoa powder (for chocolate cakes), salt, baking soda, and baking powder — all handy ingredients to stockpile anyway — then you already have cake mix in your pantry. Easy!
If you want something more unusual than a classic chocolate cake, I recommend going for drama with chocolate lava cake, which is famous for its gooey, molten chocolate center. Another crowd-pleaser is a rich, flourless chocolate cake; the one below is topped with chocolate ganache and a peanut butter swirl. Don’t forget about the sweet, flaky coconut topper on German chocolate cake, either — a cake some of us will choose over any other dessert, anytime. There’s also an elegant yet easy chocolate sheet cake made with sour cream and espresso powder for complexity. If you want to go for fancier but still easy, try a chocolate Bundt cake. And remember: Vegans can have chocolate cake, too — see below for a magnificent recipe.
Chocolate cupcake recipes
Cupcakes were invented for those times when you’re craving a tender cake but need something easier to pull off. Chocolate cupcakes are inarguably the best kind. That doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to just one kind of chocolate cupcake, though. For starters, I’m a big fan of these Easy Chocolate Cupcakes, which you can throw together in just 35 minutes.
When chocolate is involved, you don’t need much else in terms of flavors, unless of course you appreciate the lively kick of cinnamon and chili powder, as in the adorable Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes below. They are a cozy way to incorporate the season into your dessert. The gluten-free cupcakes are also delicious. The vegan treats use soy milk, canola oil, and cherries for a sensational cherry-chocolate cupcake with no animal products. For those of us who know the joys of an extra-dreamy, moist cupcake, I dare you not to be tempted by the luscious version that follows. Lastly, it’s fun to mix and match different types of chocolate — try a dark chocolate cupcake with a white chocolate buttercream, or a Nutella and chocolate cupcake for the warm, nutty chocolate and hazelnut flavor combo.
Chocolate in a cup: Mousse, pudding, soufflé, and more
Chocolate mousse is a classic for a reason. Light, airy, yet still creamy and rich, each bite can be transcendent. The name sounds fancy, and yet if you’re looking for easy chocolate desserts for Valentine’s Day, this one should be at the top of your list. The simpler eggless version of the recipe relies on whipped cream only, so there’s no need to cook the eggs over a double boiler.
Another smooth dessert that you can spoon from a cup? Chocolate pudding in its many variations. Try the classic, easy recipe made with cocoa and thickened with cornstarch (feel free to top it with whipped cream and shaved chocolate). Or for a healthier indulgence, go for a sugar-free chocolate chia pudding or a low-carb, keto diet-friendly chocolate mousse.
Chocolate pots de crème, a sophisticated French dessert, can really elevate your chocolate pudding game. This smooth, rich treat uses plenty of egg yolks and cream to take the flavor and texture to new depths. Chocolate creme brûlée is a beloved eggy custard-type treat in a shallow cup.
Finally, there’s something magical about cutting into a chocolate soufflé, still puffy, and seeing it start to deflate as you douse it with creme anglaise. Serving one of these babies after Valentine’s Day dinner is a surefire way to say “I love you,” “I like you,” or perhaps, “I belong on The Great British Bake Off.”
Chocolate pie recipes
Everyone loves pie (especially chocolate), and the ultra-rich mousse-like filling of mile-high chocolate cream pie will always be a winner. This recipe opts for an easy chocolate cookie crust, and it includes directions for making perfect chocolate curls to go on top.
Of course, why limit yourself to only one pie? Chocolate and peanut butter are a crowd-pleasing combination, and the one that follows also includes an Oreo crust. You don’t have to be from the South to appreciate the crunchy richness of a pecan chocolate pie, layered with that sticky chocolate filling and containing a hint of sweet bourbon. Finally, there’s the lesser-known but equally great chocolate chess pie, with a buttery, custardy, and totally satisfying filling.
I’m just going to leave this easy chocolate cheesecake recipe right here. What more does anyone need from a dessert? The slightly tangy flavor of cream cheese, given a rich, decadent, and chocolatey flavor profile, is a perfect Valentine’s Day gift in itself, and this cheesecake is a cinch to throw together. You can serve it plain, or topped with buttery toasted graham cracker crumbs and chocolate curls for a total showstopper.
You may be wanting something even more decadent, though, and if that’s the case, how about a Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with an Oreo crust?
Or, if you’d like to completely blow your dining companion’s socks off, give this swoon-worthy chocolate peanut butter cheesecake or the s’mores chocolate cheesecake a whirl. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.
Homemade chocolate truffles
I know, Valentine’s Day is typically an excuse to embrace saturated fats with open arms, but I can’t get over how insanely tempting these chocolate avocado truffles are! Avocado holds up nicely in dessert recipes, and lends so much plant-based butteriness to treats. And while these are a low-sugar alternative to most truffles, you can swap a sweeter milk chocolate for the dark that’s called for if you prefer.
By the way, the idea of making your own truffles come Valentine’s Day is genius. They’re fun and relatively simple to throw together, and are always so special to get and give. There are so many flavor options, like matcha dark chocolate, orange, key lime, Nutella, and even bourbon or kahlua. Why not try them all?
Chocolate-flavored ice cream recipes
Ice cream is fun, casual, and a pretty ingenious way to lighten the mood on Valentine’s Day (which can sometimes be a high-pressure occasion). Did I mention that ice cream is also probably the most addictive dessert in the world? It’s incredibly satisfying to concoct a classic chocolate ice cream yourself, like this easy, straightforward version. You don’t even have to churn it.
I also love chocolate ice cream because in addition to tasting fabulous, it’s naturally gluten-free and versatile. Say you want an easy recipe but you do have an ice cream maker to enlist: The Chocolate Ice Cream recipe below is for you. If you’re vegan, no problem; try the super-creamy ice cream that uses coconut milk as a dairy-free base. Even those on the keto diet can indulge, thanks to this fudgy, sugar-free recipe. Also, it’s not unusual to make ice cream without eggs, so if you prefer that route, try the indulgent yet eggless Milkiest Chocolate Ice Cream. Want to make your ice cream dessert a little more formal? Try scooping it onto mint chocolate dessert soup. Looking for multiple textures? Experience some delightful chewiness by creating mochi ice cream.
Finally, if you’re looking to take your homemade ice cream to the next level, a chocolate ice cream sundae is always appropriate. Top it with hot fudge, or make it extra special with a garnish of crumbled shortbread cookies, a drizzle of marshmallow sauce, crushed pretzels, or chopped toasted pistachios and hazelnuts.
Simultaneously super-satisfying and super-easy, chocolate brownies are a Valentine’s Day no-brainer. If you’re a true chocolate lover, you know there’s nothing quite like a dense, chewy brownie when you’re craving something rich. Try these easy brownies for a reliable indulgence this Valentine’s Day. You can also pair them with vanilla ice cream for an a la mode event, or even give some out as gifts in cute treat bags. Just be sure to save enough for personal consumption, of course.
Not all brownies are created equal, depending on whom you ask. You can add additional chocolate indulgence with chocolate chips and fudgy frosting, as in the blender recipe below. Vegan brownies can often be more moist and dense than the original due to being egg-free. If you want to please a brownie lover by making something very special, try chocolate brownie trifles made with fresh raspberries.
Chocolate muffins and quick breads
Chocolate desserts deservedly get a lot of attention on the evening of Valentine’s Day. But why not set a celebratory mood first thing in the morning by baking muffins featuring chocolate flavor? The scent that wafts through your kitchen will be divine and you’ll be instantly ready with breakfast and/or gift options when you’re done.
The chocolate quick bread concept lends itself to variation. We have a luscious vegan recipe, and another that works if you follow a gluten-free, keto, or Paleo diet. And while no list of muffins would be complete without a healthy version, fear not — these are still chocolaty and treat-worthy. Lastly, if you’re more of a bread person, consider a rich chocolate loaf made with cacao nibs and bananas, avocado, or zucchini.
Bonus: The ultimate chocolate chip cookies
For Valentine’s Day and beyond, you’re going to need a “very best” back-pocket chocolate chip cookie recipe, and this is it. The recipe gives you the option to make the perfect regular-size cookies or larger bakery-style, which have crisp edges and extra-soft centers. You might need to try both sizes!
More Valentine’s Day chocolate desserts
Feed your sweet tooth cravings with these additional Valentine’s Day articles from Yummly.