No shame: I love chocolate, and for me, dessert is the main course. I feel like waiters are wasting their time asking, "Save room for dessert?" I always think, "Who wouldn't?"
Grouped by category, below are some of my most favorite chocolate desserts of all time.
1. Abuela. Somewhat spicy and exotic, this is like no other hot cocoa. I've had this one at home and in restaurants, and it's always nice. In terms of more traditional hot chocolates, I had some of the best at a takeout counter in Dublin, but Abuela can be found much more readily and is quite different than you'd expect. After all, if Mexican cuisine includes chocolate as a regular part of the main course preparation (like for mole), it's clear they know what they're talking about. I also like that "abuela" means "grandma;" it makes the brand feel warm and cozy.
2. The Farm at Beverly Hills. Any restaurant whose domain name includes the word "brownies" is clearly serious about dessert. Try a brownie sundae here, and you'll know why. Life-affirming -- delicious. The Farm's brownies are dense and sprinkled with a light dusting of powdered sugar. "Moist, dark, and fudgy in the middle, they have a light crisp top crust and melt on your tongue" is what Los Angeles Magazine wrote in 2005 when naming them the "Best Brownies in Los Angeles."
3. Ghirardelli Chocolate Caramel Turtle Brownies. I blogged about this before. Make 'em at home, and you won't save any for tomorrow.
4. The Great Wall of Chocolate at PF Changs. Insanely large portion, and it keeps quite well in the fridge for almost a week. I also love the tangy raspberry sauce it comes with. For me, a cake must strike the perfect balance between spongy hardness and softness and include enough filling to make it just moist enough. This cake does just that. From the menu: "Six rich layers of frosted chocolate cake topped with semi-sweet chocolate chips, served with fresh berries and raspberry sauce."
5. Moustache Cafe. This place is unfortunately closed, but it served for many years as my favorite restaurant, simply because of its breathtaking soufflé. This dessert is so hard to cook to get "just right" (I tried learning how to do it in a college cooking class), and this restaurant was able to do it perfectly every time.
6. Grand Lux Cafe. This one is not a traditional French soufflé but a "chocolate molten cake." That dessert has grown in popularity quite a bit over the last 10 years (to my satisfaction), and Grand Lux Cafe is my favorite one of this variety. I love breaking the outer shell and seeing piping hot chocolate ooze out.
7. Mulholland Grill. The menu description of their "chocolate truffle" dessert almost suffices to describe the amazingness of this dessert: "hot, dark Godiva chocolate oozes out! Served over homemade vanilla gelato. Also available in hot, white Perugina chocolate."
An honorable mention in the soufflé category is CPK with its "chocolate soufflé cake." This one is neither the French traditional version nor the molten cake version but sort of a hybrid between those and a brownie; for a mainstream chain restaurant, though, it's pretty darn good.
8. Chocolate churros at Red O. I came here for my anniversary, and the food exceeded my expectations. The "Just-Made Churros" dessert was excellent: "golden-crunchy outside, creamy within, served with warn chocolate-Kahlua dipping sauce." These churros are not like in the theme park; they are softer and so much more flavorful.
9. Chocolate macarons at Paulette. These are the best French-style macarons in the world. They were the party favors at our wedding, and each macaron is so flavorful that it captures your entire attention every time you take a bite.
10. Chocolate Disco Crêpe at Harajuku Crêpe. Don't be fooled by the size of this place; it is no match for the heart and creativity of its owner and cook that mans the crêpe machine all day and evening. Having done a social anthropological study of the culture of crêpes in college, I've been lucky enough to eat crêpes in many shapes and sizes all over the world, and they are definitely one of my favorite foods (it's so neat having an entire meal of savory plus sweet crêpes). What I love about Harajuku is that it takes an ancient French food and turns it upside down, imbibes it with Japanese flair, and makes it even more delicious.