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Cocoa Loco: Chocolate Dishes that Surprise the Palate

Cocoa Loco: Chocolate Dishes that Surprise the Palate

Photo credit: StockFood

For members of the Cult of Chocolate, it’s always pretty easy to navigate a dessert menu, coffee board, or listing of ice cream flavors. Look for the key words (mocha, fudge, molten, flourless, “death by,”), realize that every pastry chef and baker has your number, and dive into indulgence.

But the more advanced members of the group know that the addictive substance can find its way into the savory side of the menu as well—from the joy of Mexican mole poblano to the grill, where chocolate’s richness and intriguing bitterness add layers of intriguing flavor to straightforward meaty favorites.    

Huevos Sucios

Though the literal translation of this dish (“dirty eggs”) might raise an eyebrow, this plateful of Mexican genius is an revelation in Austin, Texas,a town known for life-changing breakfast tacos. Curra’s Mexican Grill on the south side of town takes a breakfast trope (“eggs any style”) and smothers them in a rich, aromatic mole sauce that’s got just enough spice to linger through sips of strong Oaxacan coffee. Served with a side of rice and refried black beans, it’s one of the finest breakfasts in town.

Oven Roasted Chocolate Barbecue Chicken

San Diego-based food writer Susan Russo concocted a chocolaty barbecue sauce that marries flavors from South-of-the-Border traditions (earthy cumin, ancho chile powder, bright cilantro) with deep, dark chocolate and good dose of garlic. The result is a dark, tart sauce that’s a distinct departure from the regular bottled stuff. Here Russo uses it to top oven-roasted chicken, but it’s just as good slathered on grilled birds.

Ribeye Steaks with Savory Chocolate Sauce

The “sauce” in this recipe from the Food Network’s Sandra Lee is actually closer to a cocoa-fied brown gravy spiked with a bracing note of Worcestershire sauce. Whiskey, shiitake mushrooms, and onions come together in a classic savory steakhouse garnish that wonderfully complement the sweet butter and chocolate in the gravy.


A contestant on the new food show Frankenfood took savory chocolate to extremes with this marriage of fine dark chocolate, palate-searing habanero marshmallow and slow-smoked pulled pork—all in s’mores form. It’s just one of the extreme mashups you’ll see as the season debuts on SpikeTV this summer. Check local listings for details.


Makes: 70 servings

3 lbs pork belly
Salt (to taste)
3⁄4 cup dark chili powder
3⁄4 cup smoked Paprika (Hungarian will also work)
2 cups Guinness beer (or more, to taste)1 Tbsp Liquid smoke
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp brown sugar
15 oz milk chocolate chips
70 large marshmallows
Cinnamon (powdered)
20 full-sized Graham crackers (snapped into 1⁄4 sizes)

For the pork belly:

Remove the skin. (If you haven’t done this before, it’s much like skinning a fish or removing silverskin from a tenderloin. Skin-side up, carefully slide a sharp butcher or chef’s knife under the skin, and cut the skin away by pressing the blade against it.)

Mix salt, chili powder, and paprika together and rub on to pork. Ideally this is done the day before cooking, but it should be done no less than 2 hours ahead.

Sear pork in large pot or on griddle. Brown on both sides. Transfer to hotel pan and fill with a 50/50 mixture of water and Guinness until liquid comes 3⁄4 the way up the pork. Add the liquid smoke and wrap tightly in foil.

Place in 250 degree oven for 2 1⁄2 hours, or until tender. Meat should be easy to cut through but not fall apart.

Allow to cool and slice into pieces roughly 1” x 1 1⁄2” x 3/8.”

For the chocolate sauce:
Combine 1/2 cup Guinness, heavy cream, and brown sugar in sauce pot and heat over medium heat until mixture begins to simmer. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate. Stir slowly to combine. Remove from heat, and store in warm area. (We found the top of a double boiler worked best.)

Squish marshmallow against cutting board using palm of hand, and roll in a 50/50 mixture of cinnamon and cayenne.

Sear pork belly piece until brown on both sides, and dip completely in chocolate sauce.

Place chocolate coated pork on 1⁄4 size piece of graham cracker and press marshmallow on top.

Use blowtorch to toast and ultimately ignite marshmallow, and quickly extinguish flame.

Stack marshmallow on chocolate-coated pork. Serve immediately.