The first Friday of each month, we have the pleasure of our own Chocolate Diva sharing on a subject near and dear to my heart...well, okay if you insist on truth disclosure...stomach. Joleen heads up a team of Dove Discovery Chocolatiers, plus she books parties (let me tell you, they are fun!), works booths for Dove Discovery at conventions and supports indivdual chocolate orders from clients. This is one busy lady!
Mmm...chocolate. Chocolate has been called dessert, an antidepressant, tonifier, stimulant, euphoriant, an aphrodisiac and for some; a reason for living. So, just how far would you go to incorporate chocolate into your life? Breakfast – chocolate pancakes – delicious. Expanding into lunch -- how about chocolate salad or Chocolate Chicken Chili for dinner?
The cocoa bean is the basis for chocolate and has been a cooking stable for many countries, and for many centuries. South American tribes, including the Aztec and Mayans, used chocolate in beverages, chilies, on vegetables and meats. Europeans discovered that sauces using chocolate covered up the gamey taste of wild meats. Moles are probably the most recognized dish today, which typically uses chocolate or cocoa. In fact using chocolate in dessert was introduced much later.
Chocolate is a wonderful addition to any cook’s kitchen. Chocolate is no less suited for cooking than butter or fruit. We cook our savory recipes with honey, sweet wines, cinnamon, and sugar, with no hesitation. Just remember the secret and key point when you cook with chocolate – a little goes a long way.
Chose a good dark or bittersweet chocolate, which isn’t typically sweet. Adding a small amount won’t make the dish taste like a candy bar, but will add depth and texture. Cocoa and chocolate add a richness and complexity to a savory recipe and is a surprising partner with many dishes. Imagine a Pan Seared Chicken Breast with a Chocolate Cabernet Sauce. Friends and family would swoon for a Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Soup with Leeks and Goat Cheese Relish. Bored with every day pork chops – next time serve Cocoa Chipotle Pork Chops with a Mango Salsa and see how everyone smiles!
Still not convinced? When you make your favorite chili, be it vegetarian or meat, add a little dark chocolate shavings to the bottom of your bowl. Add the hot chili and stir well. Enjoy!
Tips for introducing chocolate to your dinner
1. Bittersweet and Dark Chocolates are the most used. High quality white chocolates add a buttery and vanilla taste to moles, and go well with fish and seafood. Use good quality chocolate – it makes a difference. Do not use chocolate that contain vegetable oils, wax or paraffin.
2. In using flour in a recipe, substitute up to 25% with cocoa. Cocoa is great in making pastas.
3. Raw chocolate – or cacao nibs, have a nutty, earthy taste and are excellent in salads, on top of roasted vegetable and rubs
4. Water and chocolate do not partner well and can stiffen and lump.
PAN GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST WITH A CHOCOLATE CABERNET SAUCE
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1/4 cup sweet and hot mustard
2 cups cabernet
3 ounces melted Dove Chef Series Dark Chocolate
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t garlic
1 t onion flake
Place chicken in a bowl with the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and mustard. Toss well to coat.
Place in a hot grill pan and cook 3 minutes each side, turning 4 times.
While chicken is cooking, bring wine to a boil in a heavy pot and reduce by half. When wine is reduced, add chocolate and stir until melted. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and onion.
This chicken recipe also works well as a party appetizer. Place the chicken breast strips on skewers, grill, and serve with cabernet sauce as a dip.
The cabernet sauce also tastes great with stuffed chicken breasts. Slice the side of the breast to create a pocket and fill with cooked spinach and pine nuts.
Since the sauce is rich, keep the sides simple and light, like green beans with a squeeze of lemon juice or fluffy white rice with a little butter.