Dark Chocolate Dishes

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Chocolate isn’t just great in its best-known form, but is a versatile ingredient, adding spice, nuttiness, and bitterness to a host of dishes. Experiment and you will be amply rewarded.

 

Cacao is naturally high in antioxidants including flavonols, which help clear up those pesky free radicals at large in your body’s cells and may have anti-ageing properties. Cacao is also high in magnesium, which aids absorption of calcium for healthy bones and teeth.


Reduced heart risks, perceived aphrodisiac properties, and cacaos non-addictive stimulant properties all combine to great effect.


With that in mind, shouldn’t we all be trying to cook with it more often? Of course we should, not least because its such a complex ingredient and brings great diversity to the table. Cacao beans can elicit floral notes, nuts, spices, and woods alongside bitterness and acidity, so they’re a great addition to any chefs arsenal.


So use them to complement similarly rich flavours or contrast by combining with bright, acidic fruits. Play with sweet and sour by blending with both sugar and salt as professional chocolatiers do. But it isn’t just flavour where chocolate shines  for a luscious mouthfeel and texture, add it to sauces.


You’re best off avoiding the saturated fats of cocoa butter though – apply that to the skin as a moisturiser instead.



Cooking with chocolate

While a chocolate fondant or rich chocolate pudding is a classic on any dessert menu, theres more to chocolate than simply sweetness.


Originating in Latin America, it seems to work particularly well in Mexican dishes. Try adding bitter dark chocolate to a hearty chilli con carne dish to add depth, or to a traditional mole sauce. Or look to the barbecue instead  the natural sugars of chocolate if added to a barbecue marinade will glaze a chicken beautifully.


Dagoba Richest and Creamiest Chocolate Mousse

The Oregon-based chocolatier uses Rainforest Alliance Certified farms for their organic cacao beans. Their recipe for mousse is delightful garnished with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. It is a luscious, dense chocolate mousse that leaves you wanting more.



Serves 4
Ingredients

  • 250ml heavy cream (or double cream)
  • 225g DAGOBA 59 / 74, or 87% cacao, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 225g mascarpone cheese or heavy cream

Directions

Bring 125ml of double cream just to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool completely.


With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the remaining 125ml of double cream and the mascarpone in a medium deep bowl on low speed until smooth. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat just until the beaters begin to leave trails in the cream. Add the chocolate, half at a time, and beat on low speed until well blended. Transfer to four stemmed glasses or one large glass or porcelain serving bowl. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes, up to two days.



 


Pure Gold

Modern Ecuadorian chocolatiers Pacari have just won at the International Chocolate Awards, including six gold awards for their plain dark bar, the 70% Piura-Quemazon. This adds to their previous award-winning Lemongrass blend (pictured). All their chocolate is organic, sourced, and entirely made within Ecuador with small-scale cacao growers who preserve their traditional way of farming.
pacarichocolates.com

 

Godiva Royal Gift Box

This elegant, velvet brown box is filled with 24 different chocolates and 35 tantalising carrés.
US$125
godivachocolates.eu

 

Totally Godiva
By Juliette Nothomb

Since 1926 Godiva has been synonymous with the finest of sweets. Its new cookbook offers you secrets from Godivas inner sanctum. With photography by Eric Cherpion, and detailed how-to instructions,, these most elite desserts are made accessible to the home baker. Published February 3, 2014. Countryman Press. US$26.99

 
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