Al Di La’s Chocolate and Pear Cake

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There are people in this world who can read the same book over and over again. That’s hard for me because I view my time on this earth much like Dorothy views the red sand in the Wicked Witch’s hourglass, constantly sifting downward until there’s nothing left. I almost never read the same book twice (though I did recently re-read Cooking For Mr. Latte but that’s only because I’d just finished reading We Need To Talk About Kevin and, after that, I needed something that made the world not seem like a festering black hole of misery and despair; though I do recommend that book, I do).

Anyway, I’m saying all this because I have a similar attitude about desserts. Almond Cake notwithstanding, why make the same dessert again and again when there are so many desserts out there for you to try? In case you haven’t noticed, I make a different dessert for almost every dinner party. Well, did. See everything’s changed now because I just discovered the recipe for Al Di La’s Chocolate and Pear Cake on Smitten Kitchen and it may be my new favorite go-to fall dessert. I’ve already made it twice.

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Chocolate Malteds

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Most people who buy malt powder do so to make malteds, not homemade everything bagels. But days after making those bagels, I found myself with a perfectly good carton of malt powder and, having made a chickpea stew for dinner, I figured: “Hey, we deserve some chocolate malteds.” Here’s the thing about chocolate malteds: you don’t make them with chocolate ice cream. You make them with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.

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Chocolate Chile Pound Cakes

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Tweaking a Daniel Boulud recipe is a little bit like rewriting the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song. It’s a brazen thing to do.

But when I made that Smoky Beef Chili for Diana’s birthday (and, by the way, not enough of you liked that recipe on Facebook and Twitter; I think it’s because chili is hard to make beautiful…a fact confirmed to me by a food stylist I met the other day) I had leftover homemade chili powder. So the dessert recipe I meant to make–Daniel Boulud’s Chocolate-Ginger Pound Cake–instantly became Daniel Boulud’s Chocolate Chile Pound Cake. Don’t tell Daniel Boulud.

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in the World

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How many cookies does the average person eat over the course of a lifetime? 500? 5,000? 5 MILLION?

I’m not sure but since life is short, I believe it’s important to make your cookies count. Cracking open a box of Chips Ahoy might scratch an itch much like sleeping with a prostitute probably scratches a different sort of each. Neither is a good idea but people do it. I say, if you’re going to eat a chocolate chip cookie, there’s only one cookie to eat and that’s the best chocolate chip cookie in the entire world, the chocolate chip cookie at The City Bakery in New York.

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The Mast Brothers Salted Caramel Bonbon

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Wandering around Williamsburg last week, my nose (or “schnozz,” if you prefer) led me down a street to a place that looked like a warehouse. The warehouse was actually home to Mast Brothers chocolate, one of the most revered chocolate companies in the country. You may recognize their chocolate bars as the ones with wrapping so pretty, you want to wallpaper your house with them. Also their bars are the ones so expensive, you won’t be able to put your children through college if you buy one. Turns out all their chocolate is made right here in this spot where I was standing. Naturally, I went inside.

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Cocoa Puffed Chocolate Mousse

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In my first book, I told the story of the chocolate rose. In case you missed it: my mom once gave me a chocolate rose to give the girl across the street for Valentine’s Day. I nervously carried it over, rang the doorbell, and ended up giving the rose to her sister to pass on and never heard anything about it ever again. The girl didn’t acknowledge my chocolate rose. If she had, would I be married to a woman today? Judging by my recent Spotify Broadway mix, I’m thinking “no.” But I also think I would’ve been more successful with the girl across the street if I’d brought this Cocoa Puffed Chocolate Mousse instead.

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How To Completely Fail at Making Chocolate Cups

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No good deed goes unpunished; or, in my case, no attempt to craft a timely, seasonal post–this one for Valentine’s Day–goes un-disastrously.

I’m not usually that kind of blogger, but this time around I thought, “Well, why not have a beautiful, chocolatey Valentine’s Day-oriented dessert on my blog for Monday morning? What harm could that cause?” Clearly: lots of harm.

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Drunk Blondies

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Repeat after me: Butter. Chocolate. Pecans. Coconut. Bourbon.

Again: Butter. Chocolate. Pecans. Coconut. Bourbon.

On Saturday night, we joined our friends Brendan and Danny for a screening of “Sunset Blvd.” at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. (You can read all about that in this week’s newsletter.) I was assigned the task of bringing a salad and a dessert. The salad was cous cous with roasted broccoli; let’s not dwell on that. Instead, let’s talk about the dessert… a dessert that featured (everyone!) butter, chocolate, pecans, coconut and Bourbon. A dessert so addictive no one could stop eating it.

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