The combination of cooking with chili and chocolate originated in Mexico with the Aztecs – it is very popular now worldwide. The Mexicans call their chilli chocolate sauce ‘mole’. In Aztec society cocoa was prized so highly that prostitutes were paid in cocoa!
Chilli chocolate is heaven – delicious on its’ own, just a small piece with a hot chocolate (try grating it on top) or perhaps with a glass of wine after dinner. Wine connoisseurs usually maintain that wine and chocolate do not partner each other well – chilli chocolate however, defies this rule nicely and conveniently! Red wine, such as an intense Californian Zinfandel pairs really well with it. If you haven’t ever tried this, you’re missing out on an unusual taste explosion of chocolate with a subtle heat and tongue-tingling sensation that accompanies it! The added bonus is it’s a relatively inexpensive treat and the powerful combination of red wine, chili and chocolate is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
Until a few years ago all I knew about chili with chocolate recipes was enough to add a few squares of good quality dark chocolate to my chilli con carne, when finishing it off. However, I have experimented quite a bit over the past year to perfect my chilli chocolate recipes, using Mexican organic chocolate.
In all chili chocolate recipes I use good quality dark chocolate – that is dark chocolate with over 60% cocoa solids – the most crucial ingredient in chocolate is the cocoa bean itself, each one having its’ own distinct character and flavour. Professional chocolate tasters use terminology similar to wine tasters – good dark chocolate should be intense, flooding the mouth with its deep flavours that can range from robust earthiness to passionate red fruitiness, as with grapes and wine, the beans’ provenance is paramount. Just like wine, chocolate too can be ‘single estate’ – i.e. made from beans grown on a named plantation giving them a unique intensity and purity of taste – in much the same way as Grand Cru wines. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since the bland cooking chocolate block sold in the cake baking section at our supermarkets.
Chilli chocolate pairs well with both seafood and meat unusually and elevates a humble meat such as pigeon to ‘dinner party status’ once coupled with chilli chocolate sauce, some good quality baby vegetables and creamed potatoes. However these recipes are not just for entertaining, I often make my chilli beef goulash which is finished with organic Mexican chili chocolate, as a midweek dinner, serving it straight from the casserole on the table, simply with rice and flat bread – this recipe gets used also with chicken to produce a completely different taste, just with the meat element changed, so you can buy the meat that is being offered at the best discount on the day for my chili chocolate goulash recipe.