Cooking with chocolate means desserts: cakes, brownies, ice creams, and more. But that’s not how chocolate became the ‘food of gods’. South American civilizations of the Mayans and Aztec considered chocolate as currency and later the Mexicans used it extensively in their moles (sauces). Somewhere along the line, the versatility of chocolate was lost limiting the decadent ingredient only to desserts.
However, in Zeba Kohli's world of chocolate, sweet meets savoury. Kohli, a master chocolatier and proud mamma of the Fantasie Fine Chocolates brand, has been experimenting with chocolate since a very young age. She recommends pairing dark chocolate with a red wine risotto. Ask her her way around it, and she quickly shares, “I just throw in some pepper, a touch of mushrooms and then the star ingredient-dark chocolate. And just before serving it, I like to garnish it with some truffle shavings.” Sharing another way of cooking with chocolate, she mentions that she even uses it as a rub or a marinade for paneer or tofu skewers. Since she personally loves the 100 per cent dark variant, she adds dark chocolate along with yoghurt and even chillies to make a rub, and then cooks her creations on a tandoor or a grill. With white chocolate, she recommends adding a few shavings as a garnish to a delicious olive basil pesto pasta. “Sometimes I even go all out and throw in some cherries and tamatars,” she says. With milk chocolates, she recommends with an apple pie/tart, a fresh fruit tart, or any other dessert with minimal sugar. All you need to do is place a few bars of the chocolate in the oven for just as much time that it retains its shape, “so that when you take it out and dig your spoon into it, it’s a promised melt-in-the-mouth experience.”
(Also Read:#DeepVeer and Other Bollywood Celebrities Who’re Gaga about Chocolate)
Now, if you’re a true chocolate enthusiast (read fanatic), just like Kohli, we have a four-course meal plan that will be right up your alley! From appetiser to main course and beverage, scroll through for interesting ideas to take this dessert staple beyond your favourite sweets.
Who said chocolate fondue can only be eaten for dessert? Try this quick, easy, and fun fondue recipe by Chef Ripudaman Handa. While the LF expert uses bite-sized cakes and marshmallows to be dipped in a pot of melting chocolate, you can go for savoury items such as crackers, tortilla chips, mozzarella balls, etc. The cheesy and salty flavours of these foods will help you balance out the sweetness of the chocolate.
If you’re going for this appetizer, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind. First, be sure that your choice of nibbles will hold together in thick, warm chocolate. You don’t want it to disintegrate in the fondue, Second, use long-handled forks or skewers to avoid contact with the hot pot.
For people who don’t want to overdo the chocolate richness at this point of the meal, Chef Ranveer Brar’s sweet-savoury twist on Baked Alaska, a classic dessert made with cake, ice cream and meringue, can be a good choice. His version of Baked Alaska is loaded with cheese and vegetables and has subtle hints of white chocolate.
Another chocolate dish from Chef Brar’s kitchen is this simple but decadent dosa. It is an easy-to-make Indian crepe, which is served with a filling of grated chocolate and chopped pineapple. What’s more interesting? He finishes it off with a drizzle of chocolate syrup, some powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. Just in case, the recipe seems too sweet for this point of the meal, you can even look at savoury ingredients to pair chocolate with. Chef Rakhee Vaswani, LF expert and owner of Palate Culinary Studio, suggests you add unsweetened cocoa powder to a BBQ or some other sauce and use it to coat the protein of your choice. This can then be used as a filling for the crepe. Chef Roberto Zorzoli, head chef at Romano’s, JW Marriott Sahar says, you can also try working with meats such as lamb, chicken, and venison and vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, sweet potatoes, yam, shallots, and sweet peas.
Chocolate Lagan nu Custard with Coconut Crust
Lagan nu custard is a Parsi custard, which is made with milk, eggs, butter, and dry fruits. It is one of the highlights at the community’s wedding functions. Indian chocolatier Zeba Kohli, on LF’s Gimme Chocolate! show, prepares an interesting version of the dessert with chocolate and coconut. While she used the chocolate to add flavour to the custard, the coconut was mixed with malai, sugar, and milk to make a crust for the dessert.
Jaggery Cheese Cigars with Chocolate Kadhi
If you’re open to experimenting as a cook, we’d suggest you try this jaggery cheese cigars with chocolate kadhi recipe from the show Gimme Chocolate! The recipe may seem time-consuming but, trust us, it’s totally worth the effort!
Also read: Chocolate lovers, this is how you take your obsession beyond desserts
Chocolate and alcohol make a perfect culinary combination. But for those only starting to get into the chocolate-booze pairing realm, Kohli shares a few tips to help you get the New Year party started. White wines such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay pairs beautifully with a 70 per cent dark chocolate, she says. “We’re not aiming for something very dark, just dark enough to enhance the dryness of a white wine,” she explains. With champagne, especially if it’s a very dry one, she recommends a white chocolate. With red wines such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, Robert Mondavi or even a French Bordeaux, a 75-85 per cent silky chocolate with a hint of red berries works well. Milk chocolate, strangely pairs well with a cognac, adds Kohli. And if that's not enough, you could find some inspiration from these:
Chocolate, when combined with the right kind of alcohol, can make for a great cocktail. Try this chocolate whiskey recipe, which is all about rich flavours of chocolate ice cream mingling with those of the alcoholic beverage. All you need here is some chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, and some whiskey.
Orange Cocktail Martini
Now, this is what we call ‘summer in a glass’! This orange cocktail martini recipe is a delightful mix of fresh orange juice and chocolate syrup – with a generous dash of vodka. Accompany your three-course meal with this refreshing drink to complete your chocolate experience.
By Shraddha Varma and Annabelle D'Costa
Featured image creative by Jaydev Vaghela
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