With the U.S. accounting for 20% of the world's chocolate consumption, it's safe to say that the sensuous treat is an American past-time of sorts. From bonbons to chocolate bars, men, women, and children alike indulge in chocolate regularly. And during certain holidays this is even truer -- more than 90 million pounds of chocolate are purchased during Halloween!
However, chocolate is far more versatile than people realize. Chocolate -- particularly dark chocolate -- can be extremely complex in flavor, with notes of fruit, spice, creaminess, and bitterness. These complex flavor profiles lend to much more interesting dishes than one would typically imagine.
Here are some ways to think outside of the chocolate bar and how to utilize chocolate in new, interesting and of course, delicious ways:
No, chocolate salad isn't necessarily an oxymoron. In fact, the best dark chocolate out there has a number of healthy flavanoids and antioxidants that aid the body in a number of ways. In that sense, chocolate is the perfect healthy addition to your salad. As far as flavors go, it is an interesting and delightful pairing. For example, a simple spinach salad with mozzarella, almond slivers and strawberry slices will only be enhanced by this chocolate vinaigrette. For the dressing, you'll need:
- 1/4 organic dark chocolate pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
To make the dressing, melt the chocolate until smooth. Then, whisk the vinegar, oil, and honey together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
A Mexican classic, mole sauce is a rich chocolate sauce used in savory dishes to top with proteins like chicken or salmon. Typically, mole is made with semisweet chocolate, cinnamon, pasilla chiles, peanut butter, garlic, onions, and other spices.
A good chili is full of secrets. But one of chili's best kept secrets is often chocolate. Just like in mole sauce, the dark, bitter notes contrast well with the spice of the peppers in chili. To incorporate chocolate into your chili, add half a bar of pure dark chocolate or unsweetened baking chocolate. It will add an extra depth and sensuousness to the hearty stew.
How do you eat chocolate? Let us know in the comments below.