For many of us, chocolate treats were the ''fun foods'' of growing up. Little girls, marking time on rainy days, made up a batch of chocolate fudge. Nut-filled chocolate brownies, rich, moist, and delicious, were offered when friends came to call.
Chocolate cookies, devil's food cake, and chocolate ice cream delighted the taste buds at scores of birthday parties and family meals as well.
The joys of chocolate are a childhood pleasure that doesn't fade with the passing of years. The enjoyment of any dessert as long as it's chocolate continues.
Chocolate also adds interest to meals in simple dishes such as fudge sundaes and in more sophisticated ones such as Charlotte Russe, baked Alaska, and chocolate mousse.
Many chocolate desserts with elegant names are quick and easy to prepare and lend themselves to ''dinner for two'' menus for working couples, or perhaps for a candlelight meal for a special friend.
It's surprising what a lift baked Alaska for two can give to a simple supper that comes on the heels of a hard day at the office.
The ''chocolate desserts for two'' recipes that follow use cocoa, the convenience food of the chocolate family, a time-saver that is easy to work with and that can be used directly from the can with no bothersome premelting.
Cocoa has a rich, intensely chocolate flavor as well as a low-fat factor important in contemporary diets. Versatility and a long shelf life are also among cocoa's good points.
In addition, home economists point out that cocoa goes further than baking chocolate, trimming one-third of the cost of this ingredient from a typical recipe.
Baked Alaska is a classic dessert, served with pomp and fanfare in many restaurants. The following Alaska is simple to put together, ideal for a working couple or for a single person who wants a special treat. Baked Alaska for Two Base: 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup cocoa 2 eggs 1 cup sugar 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 cup sliced almonds
Combine flour and cocoa and set aside. In a small mixer bowl, beat eggs and sugar until thick and lemon colored. Add butter and vanilla. Blend well. Blend in cocoa mixture and nuts. Spread into a greased 8-inch-square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Cut into four squares, saving two for another time. Topping: 2 scoops chocolate, chocolate chip, or choco late almond ice cream egg white 1 tablespoon cocoa 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar Sliced almonds
In small mixer bowl, beat egg white until stiff. Beat in cocoa and sugar. To assemble, place brownie squares on ungreased cookie sheet.
Place ice cream in the center of each brownie square. Cover ice cream and brownie completely with meringue mixture. Sprinkle with almonds.
Bake at 450 degrees F. about four minutes until meringue is lightly browned. Serve immediately.
Many gourmets consider Charlotte Russe a dessert fit for a queen. After all, it was named for one. Chocolate Charlotte Russe 6 tablespoons sugar 1/3 cup cocoa 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 3/4 cup milk 2 eggs, separated 2 tablespoons orange juice 4 lady fingers, split 2/3 cup heavy cream Sweetened whipped cream Mandarin oranges
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, and gelatin. Stir in milk and egg yolks. Stir constantly over low heat until smooth and slightly thickened. Pour into small mixing bowl. Refrigerate until gelatin begins to set. Stir occasionally.
Sprinkle orange juice on lady fingers. Stand them around sides of two-cup souffle dish or dessert dish. In mixer bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Whip cream to soft peaks.
Fold beaten egg whites into cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into prepared dish. Chill until firm.
To serve, decorate top with sweetened whipped cream and mandarin oranges. Makes 2 generous servings.
Peanut butter chips in chocolate mousse lend a pleasantly different taste that should prove attractive to those who have never outgrown their liking for peanut butter. The chips, besides being delectable, are easy to work with. Chocolate Mousse for Two 2 eggs, separated 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup cocoa 3 tablespoons butter, softened 2 tablespoons boiling water 1 tablespoon orange juice 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel 1 cup peanut butter chips Whipped cream Cocoa
Allow separated eggs to stand to room temperature. In small mixing bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually blend in sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Set aside.
In blender container, combine cocoa, butter, and boilng water. Blend until smooth. Add egg yolks, orange juice, and peel. Blend until smooth. Fold in peanut butter chips.
Fold into beaten egg whites. Spoon into two large footed dishes. Chill until firm.
Just before serving, garnish with whipped cream and dust with additional cocoa. Makes 2 generous servings.
Chocolate ice cream is a favorite dessert, no matter what the season. Chocolate butter pecan ice cream is even better.
The ice cream is made with sweetened condensed milk so the custard base doesn't have to be cooked. This recipe makes enough for more than two people. Chocolate Butter Pecan Ice Cream 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans 1 tablespoon butter 1/2 cup cocoa 2/3 cup water 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 cups heavy cream
Saute pecans in butter in small saucepan over medium heat for two minutes. Cool. Combine cocoa and water in small saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in condensed milk and vanilla. Pour into 8 -inch-square pan. Freeze until mushy.
Whip heavy cream until stiff. Whip chocolate mixture in small chilled bowl. Fold into cream. Blend in pecans.
Pour into pan and return to freezer. Freeze until firm. Stir occasionally during first hour. Mound in bowl to serve. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.