A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Goat Cheese & Chocolate Truffles Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry Cookies Chocolate Walnut Pie Chocolate Mint Brownies Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake Walnut Fudge Brownies Chocolate Bread Pudding Chocolate Chess Pie

Madison County Championship Rodeo

Goat Cheese & Chocolate Truffles Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry Cookies Chocolate Walnut Pie Chocolate Mint Brownies Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake Walnut Fudge Brownies Chocolate Bread Pudding Chocolate Chess Pie

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Goat Cheese & Chocolate Truffles Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry Cookies Chocolate Walnut Pie Chocolate Mint Brownies Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake Walnut Fudge Brownies Chocolate Bread Pudding Chocolate Chess Pie

11 Decadent Chocolate Desserts



photograph by Matt Hulsman

Goat Cheese & Chocolate Truffles

Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: About 16 truffles.

6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 ounces (1 cup) plain goat cheese
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon orange extract
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
¼ cup chocolate sprinkles

In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and let chocolate cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, mix together goat cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla and orange extracts until the mixture is light and fluffy. Mix in chocolate until well combined.

Cover the bowl and chill the mixture for 1 hour or until firm. Form heaping teaspoons (or small scoops) of the mixture into balls. Roll half of the balls in cocoa powder and the other half in sprinkles. Chill the truffles on a wax paper-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes or until firm. The truffles will keep in an airtight container, refrigerated, for 5 days.


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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry Cookies

Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: About 30 cookies.

1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1  large egg
2  teaspoons espresso powder or instant coffee, divided
8 ounces (1 cup) dark chocolate morsels
1 cup dried cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, egg, and 1 teaspoon espresso powder; beat until creamy.

Beat in flour mixture, then stir in chocolate morsels and cherries. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookie edges are slightly browned and the centers are slightly soft. Dust cookies with remaining espresso powder. Cool on wire rack.


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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Chocolate Walnut Pie

Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 8 servings.

1 cup light corn syrup
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter
8 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate morsels
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 unbaked deep-dish pie shell
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine corn syrup, sugar, and butter, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate, stirring until chocolate dissolves. Let sit for 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with a fork until well blended. Slowly add beaten eggs to chocolate mixture, whisking constantly. Stir in vanilla.

Pour mixture into pie shell; sprinkle top with walnuts. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until crust is golden brown and pie is set. The center should be slightly jiggly. Allow pie to cool on counter for 30 minutes before cutting.


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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 14 large bars or 28 small.

For the brownies:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup honey
4 large eggs
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

For the filling:
4 cups powdered sugar
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
6 to 8 drops green food coloring

For the frosting:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

For the brownies: In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Stir in cocoa, sugar, and honey. Let cool to room temperature. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt; mix until combined. Spread batter in the prepared dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in the dish.

For the filling: In a large bowl, beat all filling ingredients except food coloring on medium speed until smooth. Add food coloring gradually while mixing. Spread filling over cooled brownies. Refrigerate 1 hour before frosting.

For the frosting: In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips, butter, and cream over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes. Remove brownies from fridge and pour frosting over filling, spreading evenly into corners. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chocolate is set. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.


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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 16 servings.

For the cake:
1 pound unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup dark cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup whole milk, warm
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate royal icing:
4 cups powdered sugar
½ cup dark cocoa powder
2 egg whites, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the cake: Preheat oven to 325°. Butter, cream cheese, and eggs should be at room temperature. Cream together butter, sugar, and cream cheese until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Add alternately with milk to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stir in vanilla. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cover with foil until completely cool.

For the chocolate royal icing: In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix lightly. In a separate bowl, mix egg whites, vanilla extract, and half of the cream. Add to the dry ingredients. With an electric mixer, mix on low speed, and gradually add the remaining cream. Mix until the icing reaches the consistency of thick syrup. Turn the mixer to high and whip for approximately 2 minutes, until the icing is light and fluffy, like meringue.


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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Walnut Fudge Brownies

Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 6 large brownies.

1½ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
⅔ cup cocoa powder, sifted
½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
½ cup dark (60 percent cacao) chocolate chips
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line the baking dish with a 12 x 12-inch sheet of parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the granulated sugar, flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, chocolate chips, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, canola oil, water, and vanilla. Sprinkle the dry mixture over the wet mixture and stir until just combined. Batter will be thick.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread it into the corners. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly over the top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs attached. The brownies should be gooey in the middle but will firm up as they cool. Allow brownies to cool completely before slicing, approximately 2 hours. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. These also freeze well!


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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Chocolate Bread Pudding

Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 8 servings.

6½ cups bread cubes (1 pound brioche or white bread)
1½ cups bittersweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Ice cream (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking dish or 9 x 13-inch pan. Toss the bread cubes with 1 cup of the chopped chocolate, and place in the prepared pan.

In a saucepan set over low heat, combine the remaining chopped chocolate with the sugar, cocoa, and milk. Cook, stirring, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is thickened and smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, and whisk in the heavy cream. Whisk in the eggs, salt, and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes, and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 325°.

Bake the pudding for 45 to 50 minutes, until it’s set. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream, or dusted with powdered sugar.


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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Chocolate Chess Pie

Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 8 servings.

½ cup salted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie shell (unbaked)
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°. In a bowl, combine butter, sugar, cocoa, eggs, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and spread it evenly along the edges. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve with whipped cream (optional).


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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Dody’s Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Icing

Recipe from the Community Cookbook Series

Yield: 18 servings.

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
8 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs
½ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
¾ cup chocolate icing

For the icing:
4 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
8 tablespoons butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine flour and sugar in mixing bowl. Put 1 cup water, oil, butter, and cocoa into heavy boiler. Bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add mixture to sugar and flour, beat well. Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and salt. Mix until smooth. Pour batter in 9-inch x 13-inch baking pan and bake for 40 minutes. Ice with chocolate icing while still hot.

For the icing: Mix milk, cocoa, and butter together, and bring to a boil. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, stirring until well mixed, with no lumps.


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photograph by Charlotte & Johnny Autry

Double Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Recipe by Charlotte Autry

Yield: 24 sandwich cookies.

For the cookies:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder, sifted (plus extra to shape cookies)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
¾ cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325˚. Line four baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until creamy. Add eggs, and beat. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; mix until combined and dough comes together.

Shape the cookies: Using cocoa powder-dusted hands, roll about 2 teaspoons of dough into a ball. Place ball on baking sheet and flatten slightly. Repeat until all dough is used, placing about 12 cookies on each baking sheet. Bake in batches until cookies are set, about 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool. While the cookies cool, make the filling. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan until just simmering. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Stir until smooth and chocolate is melted; transfer to a small bowl. Chill in refrigerator about one hour, or until filling is thickened and resembles the consistency of store-bought icing.

To finish the cookies, divide and spread the filling equally onto the bottoms of half of the cookies. Top with the plain cookies to create sandwiches.


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chocolate banana pudding

photograph by Matt Hulsman

Chocolate Banana Pudding

Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 12 servings.

2½ cups sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
2 cups whole milk
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 bananas, sliced
1 (16-ounce) package vanilla wafers
6 egg whites
½ cup sugar
1 (1½-ounce) chocolate bar (optional)

In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the first six ingredients and mix well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats a spoon. Stir a small amount of pudding mixture into egg yolks. Stir egg yolks into hot pudding mixture. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Let pudding cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400°. Alternate layers of pudding, bananas, and vanilla wafers in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add ½ cup sugar gradually, beating until stiff. Spread over the top of the pudding. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold. Shave chocolate bar over the top (optional).


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This story was published on Jan 31, 2022

Our State Staff

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