Ever since Cadbury introduced the heart-shaped box in the 1860s, chocolate has been intertwined with Valentine’s Day. Nothing says romance like a homemade chocolate dessert, like our rich but balanced double-chocolate cake, which comes out incredibly moist thanks to a honey-rosemary syrup. Or for something a bit simpler but no less delicious, try chocolate pudding with brown sugar and a hint of miso, an unconventional ingredient that adds umami-rich complexity.
Double-Chocolate Cake With Honey-Rosemary Syrup
Makes 12 servings
This unique, syrup-soaked chocolate cake is our adaptation of a dessert by Briana Holt, who flavors her cake with piney, peppery juniper berries. We opt for herbal, resinous (and more readily available) fresh rosemary. Either is a delicious match for chocolate. If you’d like to try juniper, in a small skillet set over medium heat, toast 2 teaspoons dried juniper berries until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes; let cool, then pulverize in a spice grinder to a fine powder. Whisk 1 teaspoon of the ground juniper into the dry ingredients for the cake; use the remainder in place of the rosemary to make the syrup, but when transferring the syrup from the saucepan to a liquid measuring cup, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve. However you choose to flavor it, make the cake a day ahead, if you can; its texture improves as the syrup slowly soaks in.
Don’t measure out ¾ cup water before boiling — too much will steam off as it heats. Instead, boil a larger quantity of water in a kettle or saucepan, then measure the ¾ cup.
An underbaked cake will sink as it cools. When testing doneness, the toothpick should come out clean and dry from the cake’s center.
Finally, to ensure even absorption, drizzle on the syrup in four applications, with a brief rest between each. If applied all at once, the syrup will pool on the surface and turn the top soggy.
Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.
For the cake:
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon table salt
4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup (40 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature
1 cup (214 grams) white sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
For the honey syrup:
1/3 cup (71 grams) white sugar
1/3 cup (111 grams) honey
3 sprigs rosemary
Pinch of table salt
To make the cake, heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour; tap out the excess. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate and cocoa. Pour ¾ cup boiling water over top, jiggling the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is submerged. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth; set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce to medium speed and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl once halfway through. Reduce to low, then add the chocolate mixture and the vanilla; scrape the bowl. With the mixer running on low, add about a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk, then scrape the bowl. With the mixer back on low, add half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk, then finish with the remaining flour mixture. Fold the batter by hand to ensure it is homogeneous. The batter will be thick but pourable.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until the cake forms a thin, crisp center crust and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, rosemary, salt, and ‚ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Transfer to a liquid measuring cup and cool to room temperature.
When the cake is done, cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary from the cooled syrup, then drizzle about a quarter of the syrup onto the warm cake. The syrup will not be immediately absorbed; let stand for about 5 minutes to allow it to soak in. Drizzle on the remaining syrup in 3 more applications, allowing a 5-minute rest between each.
Cool the cake completely in the pan, at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight (if storing overnight, wrap the pan in plastic and store at room temperature). To serve, run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, remove the sides of the pan, and cut the cake into wedges.
Chocolate Pudding With Brown Sugar and Miso
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Made with butter, brown sugar, a combination of cocoa and chocolate, plus umami-packed white miso to add layers of depth and complexity, this pudding is a standout. Dutch-processed cocoa is best because it gives the pudding a darker hue and a smoother, richer flavor, but natural cocoa will work well too.
Serve chilled and topped with whipped cream.
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder (see headnote)
2 cups whole milk, divided use
4 teaspoons white miso
3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or ½ cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 6 pieces
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, cocoa, and about ¼ cup milk, then whisk in the remaining milk; set aside. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup boiling water and miso; whisk until the miso dissolves.
Put the chocolate in another medium bowl and place a fine-mesh sieve across the top; set aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the sugar and butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is bubbling vigorously and thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the miso mixture; the sugar mixture will sizzle and seize up. Whisk until smooth.
Return the pan to medium heat. Whisk the yolk-milk mixture to recombine, then gradually whisk it into the sugar-butter mixture in the saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly; once simmering, cook, stirring vigorously, for another 30 seconds. Pour the pudding into the prepared sieve; push it through with a silicone spatula and scrape the bottom of the strainer to collect all of the pudding. Whisk until smooth, incorporating the chocolate.
If desired, divide the pudding among serving dishes. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to email@example.com.