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Chocolate Desserts

A Valentine's staple, chocolate is said to be a natural opiate that simulates the feeling of being in love. These sweets are calculated to rev up romance -- or at least make you so happy that you won't know the difference.

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1. Town
Pastry chef Nancy Kershner fills beignets -- those dressy doughnuts -- with chocolate ganache. Served with a frozen version of the famed, flaming Café Brulot.
(Chambers Hotel, 15 West 56th Street; 212-582-4445.)

2. Payard Patisserie & Bistro
If this $60-per-couple, six-dessert "Pour Madame et Monsieur" extravaganza gets your blood racing, just think what the coup de grace -- a heart-shaped mound of chocolate and vanilla mousses surrounding a peanut-caramel center -- will do for your date.
(1032 Lexington Avenue, near 74th Street; 212-717-5252.)

3. Gotham Bar and Grill
Alfred Portale's dark, creamy cake with an orange-flower-cream center evokes the Moroccan sun. Or you can warm up the conventional way, with hot chocolate as thick as fondue, topped with a homemade marshmallow.
(12 East 12th Street; 212-620-4020.)

4. Fresco by Scotto
Call it couples therapy: This bittersweet cake oozing with pudding and doused in butterscotch sauce and gelato is so fabulously gooey you'll be forced to share.
(34 East 52nd Street; 212-935-3434)

5. Prune
The movie-house kitsch of Gabrielle Hamilton's V-Day fare -- a giant truffle dressed as a Hershey's Kiss, topped with vanilla syrup and Red Hots -- seems only right at this hot spot where noshing and snuggling are acceptable and even encouraged.
(54 East 1st Street; 212-677-6221.)


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