More Food Articles   Grocery Coupons   Cookbook Reviews   Free Newsletter  

Savor(ing) Chocolate

By Lori Grossman

Okay, chocoholics, listen up. Did you know that chocolate can be used in main dishes?

For those of you who immediately thought of mole sauce, you're on the right track. More on that later. You've earned brownie (no pun intended) points. But mole sauce is only the beginning. We're talking savory dishes here.

"Savory" is actually a British culinary term. In the 17th and 18th centuries, many courses were served at large dinners. Some were savory and some sweet. No formal dinner would have been complete without a savory course to end the meal. Today, a savory is usually cheese, and is offered as an alternative to a sweet dessert. If we go back to how chocolate first started showing up in savory dishes, it all began with the ancient Mayan civilization.

Chocolate comes from cacao trees that grow only within 20 degrees of the equator. The trees produce pods containing about 40 beans in each pod. Once harvested, the hard work begins. Beans must ferment inside the pods, and then are removed to dry before they can be ground into what we know as cocoa. Mayans roasted and ground the beans, then mixed the powder with chilies, herbs, and wild honey. This drink was offered in tribute to rulers and placed in their tombs. Eventually, the beans were used as money.

By the time the Spanish conquerors arrived, the Aztecs were using what they called cacahuatl (or cocoa water) as an aphrodisiac. One chronicler wrote that the emperor Montezuma "faced his harem of 200 wives only after drinking 50 chalices of spiced cacao." Another Spaniard noted "It is the habit among Central American Indians to rub each other all over with pulpy cocoa mass and then nibble at each other." Those Aztecs sure knew how to have fun!

How to use your chocolate is up to you, but you might start by trying these recipes.

Buy Mexican Dessert Products Here
Authentic Mexican desserts at MexGrocer.com

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

Austinites arrange their schedules around the availability of these special treats.
  • 1/2 pound best-quality bittersweet, milk, or white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 pints large stem-on strawberries, wiped clean with paper towels and well-chilled

Capitol Punishment Chili

This recipe was awarded the top prize at the 1980 International Chili Society annual cook-off. I know it's not your usual Texas chili, but try it anyway.
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon (2 cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
  • One 12-ounce bottle pale lager ale
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • One 14-1/2 ounce can Hunt’s diced tomatoes with roasted garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound lean beef round, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound lean ground chuck
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
In a large Dutch oven, combine the oregano, paprika, chili powder, cumin, beef bouillon, sugar, hot sauce, cocoa, pepper flakes, ale, coriander, tomatoes, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.

In a large skillet, fry the onions and garlic in the canola oil. Add the beef cubes, ground beef, and ground pork; brown and remove from the heat. Drain the excess fat. Add the meat to the seasoning mixture. Stir well and cook, partially covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes at a low boil.

Remove from the heat and add the masa harina mixture (this acts as a thickening agent). Cook 2 minutes more over low heat. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Cocoa-Spice Topped Salmon

A tasty way to eat healthy.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons pepper, freshly ground
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 large salmon fillet (16 ounces)
  • Mustard Sauce (optional – recipe follows)
  • Heat a grill on medium-high heat. Smear 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the bottom of a shallow aluminum pan.

    Whisk together sugar, dry mustard, cinnamon, paprika, cocoa, chili powder, cumin, pepper, and salt. Coat both sides of the salmon fillet with remaining olive oil. Place in grill pan skin-side down. Sprinkle generously with the cocoa-spice mixture and pat down. If you have some of the mixture left over, store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

  • Grill salmon about 10 minutes per inch of thickness until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Do not overcook or it will be too dry. (If you don’t have a grill, you can broil the salmon in the oven.).

    Mustard Sauce

    • 1/4 cup dry mustard
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons hot water
    Whisk together dry mustard, sugar, and hot water until smooth. Serve as a condiment with the salmon. Makes 4 servings.

    Mole Poblano de Guajalote (Turkey in Chili and Chocolate Sauce)

    This is Mexico's most famous dish. It originated in the state of Puebla, but is served all over the country.
    • An 8 pound turkey, cut into serving pieces
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • Salt
    • 6 tablespoons lard

    Mole Sauce

    • 6 ancho chilies
    • 6 mulato chilies
    • 4 pasilla chilies
    • 2 medium onions, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
    • 2 slices toast, cut up
    • 1 cup blanched almonds
    • 1/2 cup peanuts
    • 1/2 cup raisins
    • 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise
    • 2 whole cloves
    • 1/2-inch piece of stick cinnamon, broken up
    • 1/2 cup lard (approximate)
    • 1-1/2 squares (1-1/2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate
    • Salt
    • Pepper (freshly ground)
    • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
    Put the turkey pieces into a large heavy saucepan or casserole with the onion, garlic, and enough water to cover. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, or until the turkey is barely tender. Drain and reserve the turkey stock. Lift out the turkey pieces and pat them dry with paper towels. Heat the lard in a large skillet and sauté the turkey pieces until they are lightly browned on both sides. Set aside.

    To make the mole, remove stems and seeds from the ancho, mulato, and pasilla chilies. Tear them into pieces, put them in a bowl, and pour hot water over them to barely cover (about 2 cups). Let stand for about 30 minutes, turning the chilies from time to time. In a blender or food processor, combine the chilies and their soaking water with the onions, garlic, tomatoes, and toast. Blend the mixture until it forms a paste. Do this in two batches, if necessary. Transfer the paste to a bowl.

    Rinse out and dry the container of the blender or food processor. Add the almonds, peanuts, raisins, 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds, the coriander seeds, anise, cloves, and the pieces of cinnamon stick. Blend well. Mix thoroughly with the chili paste.

    Measure the lard left in the skillet (from the turkey) and add enough to bring the quantity up to 4 tablespoons. Add the chili paste and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the mixture to the saucepan or casserole the turkey was cooked in. Stir in 2 cups of the reserved turkey stock and the chocolate, cut into pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring until the chocolate is melted. Add more turkey stock if necessary to make the sauce the consistency of heavy cream. Stir in sugar, if desired.

    Add turkey pieces to sauce and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Arrange the turkey and sauce in a serving dish. In a small skillet, toast the remaining sesame seeds and sprinkle over the turkey. Serve with tortillas, rice, beans, and guacamole. Makes 10 servings.

    And you thought chocolate was just for dessert!

  • Online Since 1997
    Stay Connected
    Follow us on Twitter
    Our Facebook Fan Page
    TexasCooking on Flickr

    Message Boards
    Recipe Exchange, Chat

    Texas Wines & Wineries

    Texas Restaurants

    Order your
    special groceries here!

    Save on Your
    Favorite Coffee

    Coffee For Less
    5% off Coupon Code: CFLESS
    Recipes Alphabetical
    Copyright , Mesquite Management, Inc. All rights reserved.