Chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate mousse: when it comes to dessert, it's no surprise that chocolate is a popular choice. But chocolate for dinner — that sounds too good to be true. When it comes to savory cooking, however, there are a number of delicious ways to incorporate chocolate.
Chocolate, especially dark chocolates with a high percentage of cacao solids, can have strong flavors ranging from earthy to sweet. When you're looking to add one of these flavors to a dish, chocolate could be your go-to ingredient.
If we've piqued your interest but you're not quite sure how to get started read on; Eagranie Yuh, chocolate expert and author of The Chocolate Tasting Kit, offers some advice.What are some of the ways to use chocolate in savory cooking?
How do you choose the right chocolate for a particular recipe?
If a recipe specifies a chocolate with a certain percentage of cocoa solids, try to stick to that percentage as closely as you can, and you definitely want to use dark chocolate where it is called for because milk and white have more sugar and will throw off the balance of the recipe.
Savory dishes tend to benefit from unsweetened (100 percent) chocolate, rather than a sweeter option. You can also use cocoa powder, of which there are two kinds. Natural cocoa powder has more chocolaty oomph, while Dutch-process cocoa powder can be a bit milder. But in savory applications, you can use either.
Do you have any tips for cooking or baking with chocolate? Any common pitfalls to avoid?
Just like wine, only cook (or bake) with chocolate that you’d enjoy eating. That may be tricky with unsweetened chocolate, but even then you should choose chocolate of decent quality. I often go by smell — if it smells sugary sweet, punches you in the face with vanilla or has any weird chemical notes, move on.
Chocolate burns really easily, so if you’re melting it, keep an eye on it. There are few things sadder than burnt chocolate! Once the chocolate has burnt, there is no saving it; you just have to start over.
Also be sure to store chocolate in a cool, dry place. Many people store chocolate in their pantry, where it can pick up smells from whatever it is near (curry chocolate, anyone?). I keep mine in airtight canisters or two layers of zip-top bags.
Now that you have an expert’s take on cooking with chocolate, why not serve your sweetie one of these delicious dishes for Valentine’s Day?
Bacon and Chocolate Brussels Sprouts
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.