When Chocolate is a Savory

By Chef Judi Gallagher –

cacaoI’m not a big fan of chocolate in traditional forms of delivery such as fancy chocolate candy in a box or chocolate Easter bunnies. I’ll eat your flourless chocolate lava cake if you put in front of me (twist my arm, right?), but I much prefer chocolate in savory form. So, gather those leftover chocolate bars after Easter and let’s make something creative.

Before you look at me like I’m crazy, let me explain: chocolate is just as tempting in traditional Mexican mole sauce as it is in a fudge brownie. Savory chocolate is delicious with beef, especially if you use ground cocoa for a rub. It even plays nicely with carrots and other vegetables. As with anything, you just want to make sure you use best-quality ingredients — I choose Valrhona or Scharffen-Berger chocolate, but if you can’t find that, Ghirardelli is a good substitute and can be found in any grocery store — and pay attention to the recipes.

Here are two of my favorite savory chocolate recipes—let me know if you’ll be trying them out, or even better, share the ways you use chocolate in your savory dishes by leaving a comment.


hazelnutHazelnut Dark Chocolate Soup

1 ½ pounds lightly toasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 bulb fennel, cleaned and sliced thinly
1 white onion, peeled and sliced
1 cup heavy cream
2 oranges, juiced
32 ounces mushroom or vegetable stock, or water
1 bar dark chocolate (such as Ghirardelli 86% cacao)
1 cup orange oil (optional, recipe follows)
Salt and pepper to taste


In a heavy stock pot, heat olive oil on medium heat, and add onions, fennel and chipotle. Cook until tender, then add hazelnuts, salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat to caramelize. Add orange juice, heavy cream, and stock and bring to high heat until bubbles form. Then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Break up chocolate into the stock pot and stir to incorporate. Pour mixture into a blender, and blend until smooth (approximately 2-3 minutes). Garnish with orange oil and grated chocolate.

To make orange oil: Zest two oranges into 1 cup olive oil, and bring just to a simmer. Remove from heat, blend (in a blender), and let cool. The orange oil will keep for two weeks and can be used for salads or over chocolate ice cream.


Braised Short Ribs with Chocolate and Rosemary

shortribs1/4 cup diced pancetta (Italian bacon; about 1 1/2 ounces)

6 pounds bone-in short ribs

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups dry red wine

3 cups low-salt chicken broth

2 cups chopped drained canned diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 very large fresh thyme sprig

cbean1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons shaved or grated bittersweet chocolate

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary


Heat heavy large pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and sauté until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown ribs in drippings in pot over medium-high heat until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to plate. Add onions and next 4 ingredients to pot. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add wine. Boil uncovered until liquid is reduced by half, scraping up browned bits, about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and pancetta. Return ribs to pot, cover partially, and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and simmer until rib meat is tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours longer. Transfer ribs to plate; discard bay leaf. Spoon fat from surface of sauce. Boil sauce until beginning to thicken, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add chocolate, cocoa powder, and rosemary; stir until chocolate melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return ribs to pot. Simmer to rewarm, about 5 minutes.


Chocolate Barbecue Sauce

chocolatebbsauceRib lovers beware – this barbecue sauce made with premium dark chocolate is not for the faint of heart! Dark, intense, flavorful, with a bite at the end, this sauce is destined to become a family favorite! It’s from allchocolate.com

1 tablespoon butter, soft

4 each garlic cloves, minced

½ each Spanish onion, small dice

2 each Roma tomatoes, stem removed, small dice

1 ½ ounces dark brown sugar

4 teaspoons ancho chili powder

4 ounces apple cider vinegar

8 ounces barbecue sauce

14 ounces vegetable stock

¼ teaspoon cumin, ground

¼ cinnamon, ground

1/8 teaspoon cloves, ground

2 ounces of 82% dark chocolate

2 tablespoons cilantro, fresh, chopped

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper, fresh ground


Melt butter in small sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, sauté 5 minutes until golden brown. Add tomatoes, stir, and sauté an additional 5 minutes. Add sugar and chili powder, mix well, and cook for 5 minutes. Add vinegar, reduce for 5 minutes, mixture should have a paste consistency. Add barbecue sauce, stock, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Mix well. Bring to a boil and reduce to a slow simmer for 30 minutes. Add chocolate and cilantro; allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Puree sauce, transfer to a clean container and cool. For best results, refrigerate for 12 hours before using.


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