Jacques Torres' Quick and Easy Desserts

Chef Jacques Torres, owner of Jacques Torres Chocolate in New York City, was inspired by chocolate at a young age.

Here he shares four simple recipes for the chocolate lover in us all: hot chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, mudslide cookies (one of Martha Stewart's favorites), and chocolate cornflakes.

Plus, read on to find out his secret for making sure chocolate retains its gloss after hardening.

EASY-TO-MAKE HOT CHOCOLATE

Ingredients:

2 cups of milk 1 cup of Jacques Torres' Hot Hot Chocolate mix or, for a spicier flavor, try his Wicked Hot Chocolate mix. Both are sold in 18 oz. tins. Whipped cream

More information is available at jacquestorres.com.

Instructions:

Mix together milk and chocolate mix, then put it on the stove and bring it to a boil. Alternatively, if you have a coffee machine with a steamer, you can just put it under the steamer. For added garnish, spoon a bit of whipped cream on top.

JACQUES TORRES' CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Recipe courtesy Jacques Torres.

Makes 26 5-inch cookies or 8 1/2 dozen 1 1/4 inch cookies.

Ingredients:

1 pound unsalted butter 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar 2 ¼ cups packed light-brown sugar 4 large eggs 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour 3 cups bread flour 1 tablespoon salt 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 2 pounds Jacques Torres House (60 percent cocoa) Chocolate or other best-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.

Using a 4 ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 15 minutes for smaller cookies. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

MUDSLIDE COOKIES

Recipe courtesy Jacques Torres.

Ingredients:

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate 6 tablespoons butter 2 ¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar 5 eggs ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 tablespoons baking powder Pinch salt 1 ¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon walnuts, chopped 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Instructions:

Melt the unsweetened and bittersweet chocolates together and set aside. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until combined. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix just until combined. Add the melted chocolate. Stir in the walnuts and chopped chocolate pieces. Spoon small mounds of the dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. If you want to make giant cookies, use an ice cream scoop instead. Space the dough mounds evenly and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F convection oven for 16 minutes.

CHOCOLATE CORNFLAKES

Recipe and tempering instructions courtesy "Dessert Circus: Extraordinary Desserts You Can Make at Home" by Jacques Torres

Ingredients:

4 cups corn flakes 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, tempered

Instructions:

Pour the cornflakes into a large mixing bowl, then pour about half of the bittersweet chocolate over them. Using a rubber spatula, mix until they are coated evenly. The chocolate will immediately begin to set. Once the chocolate has set, repeat with the remaining chocolate to give it second coat. Quickly scoop the chocolate cornflakes into small mounds onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. (It is easier to use one spoon to scoop the mounds and another spoon to scrape them onto the sheet pan.) It is important to work quickly because the mixture is easier to scoop before the chocolate hardens.

If your kitchen is very hot, you can place the sheet pan in the refrigerator for about five minutes to allow the chocolate to harden, however, do not leave it in the refrigerator for more than 10 minutes. If the mounds get too cold, condensation will form on them when they are removed from the refrigerator due to the difference in temperature between the cold chocolate and the warm air, which will cause the chocolate to turn white. While this doesn't affect the taste, it does ruin the appearance.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry area for up to two weeks.

How to Temper Chocolate:

Chocolate is tempered so that after it has been melted, it retains its gloss and hardens again without becoming chalky and white (that happens when the molecules of fat separate and form on top of the chocolate). There are a variety of ways to temper.

One of the easiest ways to temper chocolate is to chop it into small pieces and then place it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time on high power until most of the chocolate is melted. Be very careful not to overheat it. (The temperature of dark chocolate should be between 88 and 90 degrees F, slightly warmer than your bottom lip. It will retain its shape even when mostly melted. White and milk chocolates melt at a temperature approximately two degrees F less because of the amount of lactose they contain.) Any remaining lumps will melt in the chocolate's residual heat. Use an immersion blender or whisk to break up the lumps. Usually, chocolate begins to set, or crystallize, along the side of the bowl. As it sets, mix those crystals into the melted chocolate to temper it. A glass bowl retains heat well and keeps the chocolate tempered longer.

Another way to temper chocolate is called seeding. In this method, add small pieces of unmelted chocolate to melted chocolate. The amount of unmelted chocolate to be added depends on the temperature of the melted chocolate, but is usually 1/4 of the total amount. It is easiest to use an immersion blender for this, or a whisk.

The classic way to temper chocolate is called tabliering. Two-thirds of the melted chocolate is poured onto a marble or another cold work surface. The chocolate is spread out and worked with a spatula until its temperature is approximately 81 degrees F. At this stage, it is thick and begins to set. This tempered chocolate is then added to the remaining non-tempered chocolate and mixed thoroughly until the mass has a completely uniform temperature. If the temperature is still too high, part of the chocolate is worked further on the cold surface until the correct temperature is reached. This is a lot of work, requires a lot of room, and makes a big mess.

A simple method of checking tempering is to apply a small quantity of chocolate to a piece of paper or to the point of a knife. If the chocolate has been correctly tempered, it will harden evenly and show a good gloss within a few minutes.

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