This time, take a break from hamantaschen

Adar is the most joyous month of the Hebrew calendar. Indeed, its motto is “When Adar comes, joy is increased.” According to the Orthodox Union, Purim is the primary source of joy in Adar because it commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people from a fate of extinction decreed by Haman.

Except for Purim hamantaschen, no particular food is associated with Adar. So what better excuse for sending out invitations to a Chocolate Buffet? Invite guests to contribute to the dessert table by either making a dessert or bringing their favorite chocolate bar. Set out pitchers of ice-cold milk and water, along with freshly brewed coffee to cleanse the palate between nibbles.

Chocolate Cherry Mousse | Serves 8-10

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
7 egg whites, room temperature
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup dried pitted cherries
2 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tsp. instant coffee powder
Chocolate leaves:
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate
10 camellia or lemon tree leaves, wiped clean
Melt chocolates in top of double boiler until softened. Whip cream until it begins to thicken. Add chocolate and continue to whip until stiff. Beat egg whites in separate bowl until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff. Fold into chocolate mixture. Carefully fold in cherries, orange zest and coffee powder. Spoon into individual serving dishes and chill at least four hours. Decorate with chocolate leaves.
To make leaves: Melt chocolate. Brush chocolate on shiny side of camellia or lemon tree leaves. Refrigerate until chocolate is set. Peel leaf from chocolate.

Black-Bottom Cupcakes | Makes about 18

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line about 18 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
Combine cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt in mixing bowl. Fold in chocolate chips and set aside.
In another bowl combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly. Fill cupcake papers about 3/4 full with batter. Drop cream cheese mixture into center of each. Bake 40 minutes.

Chocolate Carrot Cake | Serves 8-10

5 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 large carrots, peeled and finely grated
1 1/2 cups ground pecans
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
12 pecan halves for garnish
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
1 Tbs. honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan.
Beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar until creamy and pale. Gradually beat in chocolate. Stir in carrots, nuts and breadcrumbs. Beat egg whites with remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff. Fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 75 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool and remove from pan.
Make glaze by melting chocolate and butter. Stir in honey and spread on cooled cake. Garnish with pecan halves.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].