7 Savory Recipes That Use Chocolate in Creative Ways

Chocolate lovers everywhere — rejoice! No longer do you have to search high and low for an excuse to indulge your chocolate cravings at dinnertime. These recipes do it for you! After all, why confine chocolate with its limitless potential to the dessert table? Luckily, the culinary innovators among us have found ways to incorporate chocolate into even the most savory of lunch and dinnertime dishes. Try out these 7 recipes to get your chocolate fix at any time of day!

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

1. Chocolate Chili

This recipe from Paula Deen of the Food Network is sure to become a family favorite. It’s a zesty savory dish offering all the authentic flavors of chili with two tablespoons of cocoa powder to add a bitter complexity to its taste. This recipe takes about an hour and 25 minutes to complete and yields 6 to 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans ranch-style beans, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • Optional garnishes: sour cream, shredded cheese, minced chives

DirectionsIn a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the ground beef and cook for 2 minutes. Next, add the onions, chili powder and cumin, and stir together. Add the cocoa, garlic and jalapeños, mix together, and cook for 2 minutes. Next, add in the ranch-style beans, cayenne pepper, and oregano, and cook for another minute. Add the black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Garnish with sour cream, shredded cheese, and chives if desired.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

2. Spicy Tomato and Chocolate Soup

Peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, spaghetti and meatballs … tomato and chocolate? It’s certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when considering our favorite food pairings — but somehow, it works, and it works well. This zesty recipe from The Travel Bite (originally from the Chestnut Street Inn) yields 6 to 8 servings and takes about an hour and a half to complete.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Harissa (North African chili paste)
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ to ¾ cup dry sherry or white wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 3 (4 ounce) bittersweet chocolates
  • 2 tablespoons honey to taste
  • Queso Fresco, goat cheese, or crème fraiche to garnish

Directions: Heat oil and butter in a stock pot over medium high heat until butter melts. Add onion and sauté until translucent, approximately 5 mins. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and sun dried tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, harissa, paprika, cumin, and coriander. Sauté for a couple of minute to toast spices and soften vegetables.

Add wine and continue cooking on high until all of the liquid has evaporated. Add tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 45 mins or until the vegetables are tender.

Pass soup through a food mill to purée and remove any large particles. Return soup to pot and place over low heat. Add parsley and cilantro. Add chocolate and enough honey to balance acidity. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve hot, garnished with queso fresco, fresh goat cheese, or crème fraiche.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

3. Chocolate Beer Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

This barbecue sauce is a tasty accompaniment to any of your tailgate food favorites or for a quick, interesting addendum to a night of grilling. Try it on ribs, burgers, veggie burgers, wings, and more! This recipe comes courtesy of Eats Well With Others. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and yields 1½ cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 cup pumpkin ale
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ounce 85% dark chocolate

Directions: In a pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Simmer until thickened, about 15-20 minutes.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

4. White Chocolate Baba Ghannouj

White chocolate and eggplant? This is an idea so crazy that it just might work. Baba ghannouj is an eastern Mediterranean dish consisting of eggplant, tomato, olive oil, and basic seasonings. This version from Saveur is a rich, smooth spin on a hearty classic. The recipe takes an hour to complete and yields about 2½ cups. Serve alongside pita for dipping.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 4 medium eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ⅔ cup tahini
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
  • Toasted pita bread, for serving

Directions: Heat oven broiler on high. Place garlic and eggplants, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; broil until tender and charred all over, about 20 minutes for garlic, and about 40 minutes for eggplant. Peel garlic and peel, seed eggplants, and scoop out flesh from eggplant; transfer to a food processor with juice, tahini, chocolate, half the parsley, the cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper; purée until smooth. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with remaining parsley and pomegranate seeds; serve with pita on the side for dipping.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

5. Estella’s Mole Poblano Chicken

Mole poblano is a zesty and flavorful staple of Mexican fare, typically consisting of chili peppers and chocolate. This recipe from Cooking Channel takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete and yields 6 servings. Serve with roasted, grilled, or poached chicken. Note: Dark chocolate can be substituted for Mexican chocolate.

Ingredients:

Chile Paste

  • 8 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 poblano chiles, roasted, seeded and peeled
  • ⅓ cup chicken broth
  • Salt

Mole

  • ¼ cup canola oil or lard, plus more for simmering
  • ¼ cup whole almonds
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup  raisins
  • ½ teaspoon anise seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 plantain, cut into chunks
  • 2 corn tortillas, toasted and torn apart
  • 3 ⅔ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped Mexican chocolate, such as Ibarra
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: For the chile paste, toast the ancho chiles by opening them and pressing them flat in a hot skillet for a few seconds on each side. Soak the chiles in hot water until they are very soft, about 30 minutes. Drain and pour into a blender with the roasted poblanos and chicken broth. Pulse until pureed. Season with salt and set aside.

For the mole, heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and sesame seeds and cook, stirring until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Remove the nuts with a slotted spoon to a food processor or blender. Add the raisins to the same skillet and stir for a minute as they puff. Put them in with the nuts. Add the anise seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon stick to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to the food processor. Add the garlic and onions to the skillet and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove to the food processor with the nuts and raisins. Then, fry the plantains and add to the food processor with the tortillas. Add about 1 cup chicken broth and blend to a smooth paste.

In a large skillet, heat some more oil over medium heat and pour in the mole. Add the ancho chile paste, chocolate, sugar, and remaining 2 ⅔ cups of chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking on low heat for about 1 hour. Serve with chicken.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

6. Cocoa Nib and Fennel-Encrusted Pork Tenderloin

“Cocoa nib” is another term for roasted, cracked, and de-shelled cocoa beans. Cocoa nibs are flavorful, aromatically intense, and loaded with natural antioxidants. Transform your typical savory pork dish using this simple, earthy addition! This recipe from NPR yields 4 servings and takes about an hour to complete.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1½ tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1¼ to 1½ pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the inside of a roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. If you don’t have a roasting pan, a deep ovenproof dish will suffice. Dish does not have to be lined.

Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, grind the cacao nibs and fennel seeds until coarse. Place in a small bowl, and add remaining ingredients through cayenne pepper. Stir well. Using your hands, rub the tenderloin all over with 1 tablespoon canola oil. Rub all over with the cacao nib mixture, massaging it into the meat until well coated.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm remaining tablespoon of canola oil. Place the tenderloin in the skillet and cook, turning it over to ensure even browning on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to the roasting pan and cook until a meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the tenderloin reads 145 degrees, about 15 minutes.

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