Dark chocolate is a pantry staple in our household, right alongside spices, whole-wheat pasta, barley and several types of flour. And by that I don't mean a little bag of chocolate chips or a petite bar. I mean a 1-pound brick of the stuff. As long as there's chocolate in the house, I know we can have something sweet after dinner, even if it's just nibbling the chocolate itself.
But without much more effort than that, you can have a dessert that makes a bigger statement in terms of flavor and presentation. As with any home cooking, the key is to have a few simple ingredients on hand, which can add up to something surprisingly satisfying and impressive. Don't believe me? Check out Lia's Chocolate Crostini recipe below.
Another strategy is to keep thick, creamy Greek yogurt in the fridge, which you can use as a stand-in for pudding. Stir in a little sugar or agave nectar and a dash of vanilla extract (add a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa for a chocolate version), then top it with shaved chocolate and a sprinkling of fruit or toasted nuts.
As early-season strawberries start rolling into markets (believe it or not, they're already starting to show up here in Southern California), you can slice them up and macerate them with a tablespoon or two of sugar, a splash of orange-flavored liqueur and squeeze of lemon juice. Let that lovely mixture sit for 20 minutes or so while you eat dinner, and you'll be rewarded with a fresh topping to serve over yogurt or ice cream.
This wraps up our week-long look at elements of a simple late-winter supper. Here are all the recipes that go into it. Try it this weekend to nourish those you love with the appeal of seasonal flavors.
Sweet finish: This Chocolate Crostini with Orange Zest and Sea Salt. Chocolatey, sweet, salty–it's my idea of the perfect last-minute treat.