A sweet start to a new year

Ellie Krieger

THE WASHINGTON POST – Like the start of a new year, chocolate dessert cups waiting to be filled are brimming with possibilities.

Here, that potential is realised in a sumptuous and healthful treat, loaded with cannoli-style ricotta cream and fresh raspberries.

Accented with mint leaves and showered with confectioners’ sugar, it’s a dessert that has the sparkle and elegance. Depending on what you are up for, preparing them can be a total breeze. You could purchase premade chocolate cups, or for a relatively easy project in the kitchen, you could make your own.

To go the DIY route, you’ll need a set of mini-muffin-sized silicone baking cups and a small, clean paint brush. With these tools at hand, you then melt the chocolate in a double boiler. I use a shortcut tempering method where most of the chocolate is melted initially, but some is held back and stirred in to melt once the bowl is off the heat. This helps bring the temperature of the chocolate down gradually and yields a better-quality final product.

Chocolate cups with ricotta cream and raspberries. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

Then, in what feels like a relaxed arts-and-crafts project, you fill the silicone cups about a third of the way with melted chocolate, and use the paintbrush to spread it evenly to the top of the cup. Once the cups chill in the refrigerator for a half-hour, you pop them out of the liners. It’s not hard to do, but a couple may crack in the process, so I suggest making a few extra to account for that.

The rest of the recipe is effortless: You make the ricotta cream by beating the cheese until smooth, sweeten it lightly with confectioners’ sugar and brighten it with a touch of lemon zest. Then, dollop the cream into the cups, top with the raspberries, add a mint leaf to each, and shower them all with confectioner’s sugar.

The result is a beautiful dessert, which is just as I hope the year ahead will be – sweet, healthy and filled with good things.

INGREDIENTS

170 grammes dark chocolate, chopped (may substitute 16 chocolate dessert cups)

150 grammes milk ricotta cheese

Two tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus more for garnish

One teaspoon grated lemon zest

Six ounces fresh raspberries

16 small fresh mint leaves

DIRECTIONS

If making the chocolate cups, melt three-quarters of the chocolate (about 130 grammes) in a bowl set over a pot with about two inches of barely simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Transfer to a towel-lined counter (this helps the bowl to stay put), add the remaining chocolate, and stir until completely melted.

Fill a silicone baking cup about a third of the way with the chocolate, then, using the paint brush, spread the chocolate to the top of each cup, layering the sides as thickly as possible. Repeat with the remaining chocolate and silicone cups. Place the filled cups onto a large, rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Carefully pop the chocolate cups out of the liners.

In a small bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the ricotta cheese until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. Stir in the sugar and the lemon zest.

Using a small spoon, fill each chocolate cup with about two teaspoons of the ricotta mixture. (Alternately, you can transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a narrow tip and pipe the mixture into the cups.)

Top each cup with two to three raspberries. Garnish with a mint leaf and sprinkle with additional confectioners’ sugar right before serving.

NUTRITION

Calories: 158; Total Fat: 12g; Saturated Fat: 7g; Cholesterol: 10mg; Sodium: 16mg; Carbo-hydrates: 15g; Dietary Fibre: 4g; Sugar: 9g; Protein: 5g.