Edible Bakes: Spring Chocolate Desserts

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PIAZZA

The first cake I ever made was a one-bowl chocolate cake. I was 10 years old, my friend Elizabeth was at my house for the afternoon and we decided to spend our time baking. My experience in the kitchen up to that point began and ended with Toll House cookies. Venturing into this unknown land of “cake” was both thrilling and terrifying.

I told my mother what we were going to do, and she responded with “The boxes of cake mix are in the cabinet to the left of the refrigerator.” When I told her that we were going to make a real cake, she gave me a quizzical glance as if to ask “Is there a difference?”

I returned to the kitchen to find my friend pulling out all the necessary ingredients and equipment for our cake. When I asked Elizabeth why she picked this particular recipe, she said that her goal was to create as few dirty dishes as possible, and with this recipe all we’d be left to clean up would be the bowl.

As memory serves, the one-bowl theory was a bust. The aftermath of our afternoon in the kitchen was a sink filled with dirty dishes and measuring cups, thin cake batter with lumps of flour slowly dripping down the cabinets and a cake pan filled to the top, overflowing in the oven.

Over the years, I have managed to get a better handle on both making cakes and on chocolate as a key ingredient in much of what I like to bake. I love chocolate. I love working with chocolate. I love making ganache, watching how the hot cream slowly turns the chopped chocolate into a shiny, gorgeous glaze. I continue to be thrilled by the process of folding whipped egg yolks and whipped cream into melted chocolate when making chocolate mousse. From decadent brownies to chocolate chunk cookies, one can always find a chocolate dessert of some sort waiting in my kitchen.

Chocolate will always be center stage when it comes to planning desserts for Passover and Easter. Here are some of my favorite holiday desserts—I hope they’ll make you as happy as they have made me year after year.

Karen Collins is a self-taught pastry chef and owner of Bisousweet Confections, a wholesale bakery located in Shirley, MA. She also co-founded Nashoba Brook Bakery. Karen has always loved to write and has a blog called As the Bread Burns where she discusses baking, business-ing, parenting and life. When she's not baking or writing, Karen spends her time parenting her three children and three dogs, cycling, running, skiing, volunteering and vacuuming.