1. Turn up the heat
A handy hint for all those chilli lovers and hot sauce devotees – chocolate and chilli are a match made in heaven, as long as your taste buds are up to the challenge. Many chocolate producers are now releasing pre-packaged chilli chocolate onto supermarket shelves, but why not try dipping your favourite choccy treat into your hot sauce of choice?
2. Stir into savoury foods for a rich twist
Surprising but true, a little chocolate kick can go a long way in adding richness and flavour to stews and casseroles. The Naked Chef himself, Jamie Oliver, recommends adding cocoa to chilli, explaining, “Using cocoa powder helps to add a lovely depth of flavour, and nutritionally – it’s high in the mineral copper, which we need to keep our skin and hair strong and healthy.”
But you can also add chunks of chocolate instead of cocoa – aim for culinary grade, high cocoa content to see the difference.
3. Pair with meat
We’re all familiar with the salt-sweet combination that makes salted caramel and sea salt chocolate taste so good. But why stop there? It turns out that chocolate is equally well suited to marinating meats, from chicken to pork and beef. Yotam Ottolenghi combines chocolate, chipotle chillies and cinnamon to coat chicken for his Sweet and Smoky Mexican Chicken. Rowley Keigh, of Kensington Place restaurant, even pairs it with game.
4. When life gives you avocados, make chocolate pudding.
There’s nothing worse than a near-perfect avocado taking a turn towards over-ripe the very second you turn your back. But whereas you might usually think your only option is to make guacamole, it turns out that chocolate and avocados combine for a sweet-but-virtuous treat recommended by the Hemsley sisters. Just blend a whole avocado with frozen banana, honey and chocolate for an easy frozen dessert.
5. Make your own – it’s easier than you think.
Approximately 80 million chocolate Easter eggs are sold annually in the UK, so it’s no secret that we all love a bit of chocolate from time to time – and who doesn’t love the idea of making a beautiful egg hatched from an original idea?
Making your own Easter egg is surprisingly easy and doesn’t require expensive gadgetry or a diploma in catering. All you need is a SuperFast Thermapen digital thermometer (from RRP £51.60 incl. VAT) to ensure that the chocolate melts and sets to the correct temperature. The process, called ‘tempering’, ensures that chocolate sets properly, giving it a smooth and glossy appearance and a firm texture, whereas chocolate that has been simply melted and cooled may be lumpy, streaky, or prone to melting.
For full instructions on tempering chocolate to perfection, visit www.isitcooked.com/tempering-chocolate/
6. Easy gifts for any occasion
If you like to give gifts with a homemade touch, hand-piped chocolate buttons are a perfect foodie-gift for any occasion as you can customise them with a sprinkle of sea salt or cinnamon, or even chilli flakes!
After tempering the chocolate with your Superfast Thermapen digital thermometer, simply decant into a piping bag and gently pipe small discs onto a parchment-lined tray, and cool to set. The discs look great in gift boxes or clear gift bags, tied with an elegant ribbon.
7. For a sweet cocktail, just add chocolate
You might be surprised to hear that chocolate goes as well with gin and rum as it does with Baileys, but it’s true! Mixologists having been making drinks with cocoa and chocolate for centuries, from the Brandy Alexander to the Cacao Negroni. One London bar even went viral in 2013 after creating a 1,000 calorie Crème Egg mojito!
8. A sweet beer treat?
Chocolate also pairs well with beer, particularly heavier ales like porter and stout, and many breweries have their own chocolate beer these days.
But there is also a way you can combine these two outstanding flavours in your own kitchen – with a Guinness Cake! The popular St. Patricks pud tops a porter soaked chocolate sponge cake with whipped cream cheese frosting. Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson both have their own recipes for Guinness Cake, so there’s no excuse not to give it a try!
9. Chocolate – can’t be beet?
It’s a secret that the gluten-free have been keeping for years, but it’s out in the open now – chocolate and beetroots combine for a dense and delicious chocolate cake without the need for flour!
10. A match made in heaven?
One sweet treat available in the United States that’s yet to hit the big time on this side of the pond is chocolate-coated bacon. Yes, you heard right! Devotees of this weird snack say it’s an ‘acquired taste’ but hits a new level of salty-sweet delight.