To people who are not familiar with chocolate as an ingredient, it appears to be a fairly limited supplement to sweets and desserts. However, cooking with chocolate is actually a much practiced and diverse art, incorporating a range of savory, meat and spicy dishes. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate and bitter chocolate all provide different tastes and textures, and each have variable properties that suit different dishes.
There are three main types of chocolate: milk and white chocolate most commonly utilized in desserts and sweets, and dark or bitter chocolate which are often features in creating sauces or flavor for a vast diversity of meat and fish dishes. The concept of using chocolate with savory dishes or to compliment spices relies of balancing the dense, intense flavor of the confectionary with the dash and verve of herbs or spices.
Savory and Spicy Chocolate Recipes
Using chocolate in savory cooking techniques is a delicate and well defined skill, and requires a balancing of dessert sweetness with herbs and spices to create a sensational taste experience. The combination of chocolate with meats and spice is particularly popular in Central America and Mexico, where there are numerous savory and spicy chocolate recipes that can are available to the consumer in restaurants and bistros.
A popular savory chocolate recipe is the renowned Mexican dish Mole Negro. This dish produces chicken accompanied with a savory chocolate sauce fused with chilies and various spices. The dish is loved and consumed worldwide, and is one of the best examples of encorporating sweetness in a hot, savory meal. Pork is another white meat compatible with chocolate texture and flavors, and is included with various recipes that allow either dark, bitter chocolate as a subtle marinade or a white chocolate sauce as a sweet, delicate accompaniment.
Chocolate as a Salad Dressing or Garnish
Chocolate can also be used to add depth and flavor to a range of stews or salad. There is a particular version of an original Italian recipe called ‘Coda alla vaccinaria’, which is an oxtail stew that cooks and boils gradually and chocolate is used as a finishing touch to embellish the already enriched flavors.
In terms of a savory chocolate salad or a savory chocolate salad dressing, dark or bitter chocolate can be melted or liquidized to produce a sweet and rich additive. Chocolate salad recipes borrow heavily from Mexican cuisine in particular, and a particular method for drawing its flavor is to melt a type of chocolate with balsamic vinegar, which perfectly fuses acidity with sweetness and intensity. There are different applications of chocolate in salads or salad dressings, especially as the ingredient is perfect for experimentation with other more robust and acidic flavors.
A Way to be Inventive
Chocolate will always be primarily associated with dessert cooking and sweets, but cooking with chocolate presents not only an avenue to many unique flavor combinations, but also a great way to be inventive and creative with food presentation. For any aspiring chefs, chocolate is a wonderful ingredient with which to create and fashion innovative food.