Chocolate, It’s What’s for Dinner!

If you think that chocolate is only for after dinner, think again! Chocolate in its many forms can be an excellent ingredient not only for

If you think that chocolate is only for after dinner, think again! Chocolate in its many forms can be an excellent ingredient not only for sweet dishes but also for savory.

In fact, many of the world’s cuisines take advantage of this versatile bean in their famous dishes. The rich, dark notes of bittersweet chocolate successfully tame the hot chili peppers in Mexican mole sauce, and the creaminess of white chocolate takes baba ghanoush to the next level.

Here’s my take on the best chocolate-infused appetizer, main course, and dessert that will win you some points with the lucky person who gets to enjoy it with you.

White Chocolate Baba Ghanoush. Photo by Ashlee Glenn

Appetizer

White Chocolate Baba Ghanoush

Don’t be scared by the addition of white chocolate to this Middle Eastern staple; it adds richness more than sweetness. The sweet/sour notes of the pomegranate seeds on top makes for the perfect pairing!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds 
6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled 
2 medium eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup tahini
3 oz white chocolate (bar works best since chips melt slower and harden faster)
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika powder

Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted pita bread, cut into triangles, for serving

Directions:

Turn oven broiler to high. Place garlic and eggplants with cut side up on a foil lined baking sheet and broil until tender and charred all over, about 8-10 minutes for garlic and 20 minutes for eggplants. Scoop eggplant flesh into a food processor. Peel garlic and add to the food processor, along with lemon juice, tahini, chocolate, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Puree until smooth, about 30 seconds. Spoon into serving bowl, top with a few drizzles of olive oil, pomegranate seeds, and parsley. Serve with toasted pita triangles for dipping!

Chicken Mole Tacos. Photos by Ashlee Glenn

Entree

Chicken Mole Tacos

If you are new to mole, this is a great first encounter. Many traditional recipes take days to make, but this recipe captures most of those genuine flavors in a more approachable version. 

Servings: About 4 (8 tacos)

THE MOLE SAUCE:
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
1 oz chipotle chili in adobo sauce (from can)
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup almond butter
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sugar

Salt, pepper to taste

Photos by Ashlee Glenn

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook onions until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Stir in ancho chili powder, chilis in adobo, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and chocolate and cook for a minute or two until the chocolate has melted. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the chicken broth, tomatoes, raisins, almond butter, and sesame seeds, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend (slowly at first) until smooth, about 30 seconds.

THE TACOS:
1 tbsp avocado oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt, pepper
2 ears of corn, shucked
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 lime, sliced into wedges
8 flour tortillas (standard 7” diameter)

Directions:

Preheat the oven 450 degrees. Once hot, roast the corn cobs on a baking sheet on the middle rack for about 10 minutes. Don’t use oil or butter. Turn up to broil and char for a few minutes, or finish charring over the burner flame on a gas stove.

Next, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Cook about 4 minutes per side, until internal temp reaches 170 degrees. Shred with two forks and toss in a bowl with about 3/4 of your mole sauce, setting the remaining sauce aside for taco assembly.

If you have a gas stove, toast the tortillas lightly over a gas burner. If not, heat the tortillas in a dry skillet over high heat until you see a few black spots.

Assemble the tacos starting with the mole chicken, adding toppings according to taste: avocado, corn, cilantro, feta cheese, and a squeeze of Lime. Top off with some additional mole and serve while hot.

Dark Chocolate & Orange Mousse. Photo by Ashlee Glenn

Dessert

Dark Chocolate & Orange Mousse

A light, yet rich and decadent mousse with hints of chocolate’s best friend: Orange. 

Servings: Two

Ingredients:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp. brewed coffee
1 large egg, separated
2 tsp sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp orange liqueur (optional, but highly recommended)

Directions:

Add the chocolate, coffee, cocoa powder, and liqueur to a heat-proof bowl. Place bowl over a saucepan with 1 inch of simmering water (a makeshift double boiler). Stir carefully until the chocolate melts, then remove bowl from heat. Let cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the orange zest
(but save some for decoration).

In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolk, sugar, and salt for about 30 seconds. Fold into melted chocolate mixture. Whisk egg white until stiff peaks form. In a third bowl, whip the cream then fold both the cream and the egg whites into the chocolate. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and orange zest!

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