For Chocolate Lovers only

Chocolate cake


Chocolate-Sour Cream Drops

Chocolate-Raspberry Focaccia

Bob Batson's "Oaxaca Flats"

Dulce de Leche Bars

Chocolate-Coffee Crisps

Sweet Spot


Chocolate-Raspberry Focaccia

Tips: The last raspberries of the summer are almost upon us! Take advantage of them while they are still present with this not-too-sweet chocolate bread, spread with lightly sweetened mascarpone and garnished with chocolate syrup and those selfsame berries. If you're not familiar with mascarpone, it's the Italian equivalent of cream cheese, but softer and richer. It's available in specialty stores and some upscale markets; two domestic manufacturers are Belgioiso and the Vermont Butter and Cheese Company, or, of course, you can buy the imported Italian mascarpone. If you cannot find mascarpone, you can use lightly sweetened, stiffly whipped cream instead (about 1/2 cup cold heavy cream sweetened with 1 Tbsp. sifted confectioners' sugar should be plenty).

Make sure your raspberries are in good shape for this dessert! Discard any that are bruised, moldy, or soft. Rinse the berries very briefly in cold water, then dry thoroughly on paper towels. Once the dessert is assembled, it must be served immediately, but the chocolate bread by itself will freeze nicely; you can also make the bread in the morning and serve the dessert that night (store the bread airtight at room temperature). The bread rises rather impressively in the oven considering the tiny amount of yeast it contains, so this makes a nice "presentation" dessert.


  • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, stirred before measuring, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. sifted unsweetened, nonalkalized cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (this is less than one envelope—you must measure the amount)
  • 1/2 cup warm (105 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mascarpone Cream:

  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 2 Tbsp. sifted confectioners’ sugar


  • One carton (1/2 pint) red raspberries, picked over


  • Good-quality chocolate syrup (Hersheyís bittersweet is a good choice here)

Make the bread first. Combine 3/4 cup flour (reserve remainder), 1/4 cup sugar (reserve remainder), cocoa powder, and salt in medium heatproof bowl; whisk well to blend. Set aside at room temperature.

Sprinkle the yeast and the remaining 1/2 tsp. sugar onto the warm water; beat in well with a nonaluminum fork. Set aside in a warm place for about 5 to 10 minutes. You should see a film form on top of this liquid-because there is so little yeast, there will be no foamy head on top of the liquid as would occur otherwise. Once the yeast is proofed, add it to the flour mixture, along with the melted butter and vanilla. With your whisk, stir to combine ingredients, then scrape bottom and sides of bowl. By hand, using whisk, beat about 300 strokes or two minutes.

Switch to a large spoon to stir the mixture. Gradually add remaining 1/2 to 3/4 cup reserved flour to make a soft dough; the dough should be tacky but not sticky (you can force it to stick to your fingers, but if handled gently, it will not). On a lightly floured board, knead the dough for about 4 to 5 minutes, keeping the board and the dough lightly floured as necessary to prevent sticking. Once in a while, throw the dough down hard onto the kneading surface (kneading dough is great therapy!).

With solid vegetable shortening or unsalted butter, lightly grease a medium bowl. Place the kneaded dough into the bowl, then turn it over so that the bottom is now the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rest in a warm place for about 50 minutes. During this time, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side up, and lightly grease the foil.

When the dough has rested for 50 minutes (it won't rise much), punch it down and knead for about 15 seconds to distribute the air bubbles evenly. Allow dough to rest, covered, for 3 minutes. Place dough in center of greased, foil-lined baking sheet, and, using your hands and fingers, flatten it to a round about 10 inches in diameter, building up the edges of the round slightly and leaving the inner part of the round flatter. If your round isn't perfect, it's no big deal, and you don't want to overhandle the dough in any case. Cover with a dish towel and set aside in a warm place for about 30 minutes; about halfway through this time, start preheating the oven to 375 degrees F.

Just before placing the focaccia in the preheated oven, gently remove the dish towel . Bake the focaccia for 14 to 16 minutes, turning the baking sheet front-to-back once about halfway through baking time. When done, the focaccia will be well-risen (it can be difficult to judge when this is done, but 15 minutes is the ideal timing in my oven). Remove from oven, then immediately remove focaccia to a cooling rack with a broad-bladed metal spatula (be careful doing this; hot bread is always fragile). Cool the focaccia completely before using.

While the focaccia cools, make the mascarpone cream. In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone cream and confectioners' sugar. With a spoon, mix until well-blended. The mixture should be of a spreadable or slightly softer consistency; depending upon the brand of mascarpone you use, you might have to add a small amount of milk or cream to achieve this. Don't get the mascarpone cream runny, though. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator until needed.

Shortly before assembling the dessert, briefly wash the berries and drain them thoroughly on paper towels. Make sure your focaccia is completely cool. Have the mascarpone cream and chocolate syrup at hand. Place the cooled focaccia on a flat serving plate at least 11 inches in diameter. Spread the mascarpone cream in the center "well" of the focaccia, using it all. One at a time, place the well-drained raspberries on top of the mascarpone cream, pointed side facing up (you can make a pattern if you wish, but I think they look just as pretty placed randomly). Drizzle a little of the chocolate syrup on top in a tic-tac-toe pattern.

Use a serrated knife to cut the focaccia into wedges. Serve immediately. Pass the chocolate syrup so each person can drizzle on more if they wish.

Yields: 8 to 10 servings

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