Funny how I can track the course of my entire childhood with memories of dessert.
There were the classic chocolate chip cookies my mom used to make all the time. I was never far away when she did (otherwise who was going to lick the bowl?).
There was the cake my sister and I tried to bake for my Dad’s birthday one year. When the layers started to slip and slide and no amount of frosting would glue it together, we stuck tootsie pops into the cake in an effort to hold it together. It wasn’t pretty, but boy did it taste good.
I remember my favorite cheesecake that I loved so much. The one with the chocolate swirls and the cookie crust. The recipe came to us randomly in a pile of junk mail.
I remember tackling, so bravely at the age of 10, complicated sugar candies like lollipops and salt water taffy. Yet why am I faced with a fear of cooked sugar now when back then I was completely fearless? Go figure.
And then there was La Cocina. Or LaCo as the locals called it. One of the best restaurants in our little town. It was always a special treat to go to LaCo, where you could feast on the Smiley Face platter (a plate of baked beans with a cheesy grin) and endless chips and salsa. But that’s not the reason I was always so excited to go there.
The real reason was dessert.
Suitably dubbed Chocolate Velvet, the dessert was as light and airy as a chocolate cloud. It was like chocolate mousse – but so much more. Served in a towering slice like the best piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever had, and dusted with fine chocolate cookie crumbs that stuck to your chin.
Needless to say, when La Cocina shut its doors, I was crushed. The prospect of no more chocolate velvet was more than my chocolate-filled mind could handle.
I never forgot about that dessert, and often discussed the urgent matter of the recipe with my mom. She had, at one point, acquired a copy of what was apparently the secret recipe, but the cryptic instructions were so baffling that I had never attempted it before. Finally, after a decade-long velvet void I couldn’t wait any longer.
Once I figured out that the egg whites were best folded into the chocolate mixture and not the plain cookie crumbs, and that the dark-as-night chocolate color I remember was most likely from cookie crumbs folded into the mousse (though that part was missing from the overly abbreviated recipe), the dessert came together just as I remember.
I chose to serve the dessert in mini shot glasses – because, what’s not to like about mini shot glasses? But you could certainly layer the mousse in a 9×9 baking dish instead, and slice it into (larger-than-shot-glass-size) portions for serving. That’s your call.
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1/2 tablespoon Cointreau or Triple Sec
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 9 ounce box chocolate wafer cookies, finely ground (about 2 cups crumbs)
- Fresh whipped cream, for topping
- In a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl set over (but not touching) a pot of gently simmering water, combine chocolate with sugar and water and stir until melted and smooth.
- In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks. Slowly ladle about half of hot chocolate mixture into egg yolks, a little at a time, whisking constantly. This will temper the egg yolks instead of cooking them. Return mixture to double boiler for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened slightly. Remove from heat, stir in Cointreau, and let cool to lukewarm.
- Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Fold 1/3 of egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in remaining egg whites until no lumps remain. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of cookie crumbs.
- Divide half of chocolate mixture among shot glasses or serving dishes. Sprinkle with half of remaining cookie crumbs. Top with remaining chocolate mixture and a final layer of cookie crumbs. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set. Just before serving, top with whipped cream.
- *Note: this recipe contains raw or undercooked eggs. We recommend purchasing farm-fresh eggs from a trusted source. If you are uncomfortable consuming raw eggs, you can buy pasteurized eggs in the shell.
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
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We ate at La Cocina for 20 some years, and we are still talking about the Chocolate Velvet. We always tried to pry the recipe out of the owner, Sara, but she kept it a secret, even after closing. We are excited to see your version and will give it a try. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you, Thank you. I lived in Aspen back in the late 80’s and ate at La Cocina at least once a week. We would order the chocolate velvet at the beginning of our meal to make sure we got a piece. I was so sad when the place closed. I have dreamed about it ever since.
So I’m hoping to make this for a bridal shower tomorrow.
How far in advance do you think I could make the chocolate mixture? Also I wasn’t able to find chocolate wafers so bought vanilla, will that not work with the recipe?
It looks amazing, can’t wait to try it!
Making this a day ahead of time would be fine I would think, since it needs to chill for at least 2 hours anyway. As for the wafers, vanilla won’t really have the same effect as chocolate. You could use Oreo cookies (scrape out the filling) instead if you can’t find chocolate wafers, or make your own: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/03/homemade-chocolate-wafers-icebox-cupcakes/
OMG – what a great way to satisfy the sweet tooth of my daughter, especially in the shot glass so that we don’t eat the entire recipe in one sitting! Or maybe we will, lol. Thanks for a wonderful new recipe.
Just did it today. It blew my friends right in the watter.
We are chocolate LOVERS so thanks for the recipe …. Beautiful food styling
ok this is my desert this weekend for sure! thanks for the awesome recipe and idea
Party in my mouth? I think so!
This looks like complete heaven!
First, Im addicted to those little portion dessert cups. Love them. Will pretty much eat anything in them.
Two wish I had someone baking as many cakes in my family as yours!
Three, you are no where near crazy cat lady. I know a few and you aren’t close yet. Promise. ;)
This is my first time reading your blog and I already know I will be back everyday. This recipe looks incredibly rich and delicious. I love mini desserts. It means less guilt right?! :P
OK, this is the second dessert in a shot glass I’ve seen all day, and now I’m obsessed! These would be perfect at a party! Or… eaten all by myself in my jammies. What? :)
Saw you on Huffington Post & thought I’d stop by … Great Blog :-)
I have to try it this weekend. Stunning photos! Can I make this the day before serving? Will the wafer cookies not become ‘soggy’?
Sure! The crumbs don’t get so much soggy as they “thicken” the mousse. We were still eating them a few days after making them (although they didn’t last much longer than that!). I’d leave the whipped cream off until just before serving, though. :)
These are so beautiful. . I love it!
Tackling lollipops and salt water taffy at the age of 10?! Wow, I love it. . I hope my girls develop their love for being in the kitchen and creating! that is so awesome.
And I absolutely love the mini-shot glasses, brilliant!
I am having a party at my house soon and this looks perfect! It is making me hungry as we speak! Yum!
WOW! So adorable! I love these little servings and can almost taste how moist this dessert is. YUM!
Really nice tip :) what a nice way to remember your childhood. Have it allmoste the same, just with bread – since my father was a baker :D
Would like to hear more about your cheesecake ;) looking for a good one for some time now.
Those look like some huge shot glasses to me! And super cute ones. This looks amazing. And actually looks velvety! Amazing. :)
This has inspired me to buy shot glasses. My daughter and I are on diets but we need chocolate and this will help us portion a dessert so we can still enjoy something luscious and stay on our path. Thanks.
These particular glasses are the mini cordial glasses from Pier 1:
They come with adorable little spoons too! :)
Looks absolutely delicious! I would so love to try some.
I’ve been craving chocolate. I need to make this!
OMG this looks so devilishly divine!!
Though I don’t have either of the Cointreau or Triple Sec in my house. Is there a non-alcoholic substitute I can use?
Sure, while the Cointreau gives it an extra specialness that I just love, leaving it out isn’t the end of the world. I might stir in 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract just for good measure, though. ;)
Thanks for the very quick reply =) I was thinking about my orange essence and the other essences I have sitting unopened in the pantry that i could use instead.
Sure, you could definitely try that! The orange flavor isn’t really obvious in the final product – it’s more of an underlying depth than an apparent orange flavor. But orange and chocolate together? You can’t go wrong with that. :)
Mmmmm I can see why this was such a fond food memory! And chocolate mousse is fabulous as is but with the addition of cookie crumbs and whipped cream?! Love it.
Woah, this looks amazing! Any chance you’ve ever done without the alcohol?
I haven’t, but I think it’d be just fine. Maybe sub in 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract instead.
After pastry school and years of professional baking, cooking sugar still scares me too. It gets so hot and so quickly goes from almost cooked to a burnt pan in what seems like milliseconds.
This is torture. Your photos were bad enough but your description certainly made it worse. They are drool worthy! Saving this to my NuffnangX favorites and definitely revisiting this recipe when I get the time. I can’t wait!!!
oh wow – the recipe sounds like it’ll be undeniably delicious, but those parfait-style shots of chocolate VELVET? I think my eyes swooned – if that could even happen – when I saw this post. lovely!
It looks so silky and rich! Great job on recreating it & yes anything in mini form automatically tastes better!
I think I could make some great memories with a dessert like this! Wow!!
Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe with us! No one should have to go through the Velvet Void and kudos to you for surviving it for so long :)
Beautifully written post as well.
This dessert sounds dreamy. I will be making it, and soon!
That’s velvetylicious! I can imagine how airy and tasteful it is. Hmmm I need sugar now. :D I read your book back-to-back and can’t wait to try all the recipes there.
Yum! When I was in Tokyo, several years ago, a restaurant we went to had a “buffet” of miniature desserts and I was in heaven. You’ve inspired me to get out my “shot glasses” to make this heavenly dessert. XOXO
OMG this looks beyond divine!
I’m glad I’m not the only one who goes to a restaurant for their desserts. hehe
Yum! I may have to make this soon!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burnt chocolate when trying to melt it. I get impatient with the double boiling and try to microwave. It’s a disaster. This chocolate velvet might just be worth it to give it another go with the chocolate melting. Looks amazing!
You must have patience when dealing with chocolate! If you finely chop your chocolate it’ll melt much quicker in a double boiler. Also, have the water already simmering when you put your bowl on top. I’m all about efficiency but there’s nothing worse than ruined chocolate!
how beautiful are these!
These look so good! So sad your place closed down that is absolutely the worst especially when you are craving things from them.
My memories growing up are also associated with food.. esp baking, lol! No wonder we like to blog! Love your recipe, the little glasses mean a great taste and not as many calories!
Your perseverance pays off!!! We might need to make and share this when we visit you this week! Photos are amazing as usual!!!!
Yum!!! I need to have one of these little desserts!! It looks so good!
Lindsay! Im so excited you figured out how to make this!!! I was just talking about it with a friend the other day. The memories surrounding the chocolate velvet are priceless.
Yes!! I’m not the only one who hasn’t forgotten. You absolutely must make it. And let me know when you do if it’s as close to what you remember as I think it is. :)
the name alone – i would want to eat all of these!