Elegant Chocolate and Vanilla Recipes | Midwest Living

Elegant Chocolate and Vanilla Recipes

Our love affair with chocolate and vanilla keeps growing as we discover new ways to enjoy them in recipes like these from Midwest chefs and our Test Kitchen.

Chocolate Crepes with Nutmeg Vanilla Sauce

These dessert crepes showcase the rich flavors of cocoa powder, whipping cream, eggs, chocolate curls and creamy vanilla sauce.

Chocolate Crepes with Nutmeg Vanilla Sauce recipe

Chocolate Mocha Gooey Butter Cake

This dessert, from a Missouri bakery, lives up to its name. The center should be a little soft when done.

Chocolate Mocha Gooey Butter Cake recipe

Vanilla Cake Batter Ice Cream

You can choose from three variations on this mixture that goes in a 1 1/2 quart ice cream freezer: vanilla cake, birthday cake or chocolate cake. They all use only a handful of ingredients. Our picture (left) shows the vanilla cake batter ice cream between chocolate wafers, topped with curls of white chocolate.

Vanilla Cake Batter Ice Cream recipe

Chocolate Crepes with Nutmeg Vanilla Sauce

These dessert crepes showcase the rich flavors of cocoa powder, whipping cream, eggs, chocolate curls and creamy vanilla sauce.

Chocolate Crepes with Nutmeg Vanilla Sauce recipe

Black Tie Cupcakes

You can get creative with these cupcakes, which are topped with seedless red raspberry or blackberry preserves, then chocolate ganache, decorative icing and small decorative candies.

Black Tie Cupcakes recipe

Vanilla Bean Souffle

Top this souffle with a quick vanilla custard sauce. If you'd prefer individual servings, bake the souffle in custard cups.

Vanilla Bean Souffle recipe

Vanilla Cafe Latte

Here's our version of vanilla coffee served at a Missouri coffee house. It takes just a few minutes to whip up this vanilla-flavored coffee with steamed and frothed milk.

Vanilla Cafe Latte recipe

Wisconsin Honey Bee and Vanilla Bean Pudding

Jill Prescott, a Midwest cooking-school teacher, shared this dessert named for her home state.

Wisconsin Honey Bee and Vanilla Bean Pudding recipe

Mocha Panna Cotta

Gale Gand, pastry chef at Chicago's Tru restaurant, says: "We make this panna cotta in small demitasse cups -- it's that rich and flavorful. Bitter chocolate and coffee; sweet, salty caramel; and crunchy fleur de sel (sea salt available at specialty food stores or on the Internet) set against the smooth, tangy cream."

Mocha Panna Cotta recipe

Fudge Brownie Hearts

These brownies combine bittersweet and semisweet chocolate with plenty of butter, eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar for a moist and rich dessert. After the brownies have cooked and cooled, you can cut them into bars or use 3-inch heart-shape cutters to make pretty treats. Drizzle with a vanilla glaze.

Fudge Brownie Hearts recipe

Vanilla Bean-Infused Hot Chocolate

Wisconsin cooking-school teacher Jill Prescott uses vanilla bean seeds and pods, as well as bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, to create a rich and creamy hot drink.

Vanilla Bean-Infused Hot Chocolate recipe

Chocolate tips

Chocolate ratios: Wondering which chocolate to buy? Some semisweet/bittersweet chocolate bars come labeled with percentages revealing the proportion of cacao (pure chocolate) to sugar. On average, semisweet/bittersweet contains 50-55 percent cacao to sugar.

Chocolate with a higher cacao percentage looks darker and tastes less sweet and more chocolatey. Keep in mind that ratios above 70 percent can give different results in recipes. These chocolates may cause a cake to be dry and, predictably, less sweet. Experiment to see what you like best. For a good reference on cooking with these chocolates, we recommend Alice Medrich's Bittersweet.

Powders: Dutch-process is regular cocoa treated with alkali to neutralize its acid and give it a mellow taste. Use either unsweetened cocoa powder or Dutch-process cocoa in recipes calling for unsweetened cocoa powder.

Vanilla tips

Sweet vanilla: Spiced vanilla sugar (in the large pot at left of photo) and plain vanilla sugar with specks of vanilla bean (in cupcake wrapper) wake up your cinnamon toast or oatmeal with flavor. They add a vanilla finish to butter cookies or shortbread, too.

Substitutions: Nielsen Massey Vanillas of Waukegan, Illinois, suggests these substitutions in its book A Century of Flavor:
1 vanilla bean = 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (made from vanilla bean seeds and extract)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract = 1 tablespoon vanilla powder

To buy vanilla products from Midwest purveyors, visit the following websites:

The Spice House

Penzeys Spices

Nielsen Massey Vanillas

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