Easter is over again for another year and summer is finally on its way. Most importantly though, we’ve all had our annual influx of delicious chocolatey gifts!
Here at Chocolates of Glenshiel, we’ve been hard at work making everyone’s Easter treats, and now it’s time for a well-deserved break. No prizes for guessing what we like to do in our downtime – anything food-related! And, you know us – we like to cram as much chocolate as we possibly can into our daily lives.
But really, chocolate is a wonderful, multidimensional thing (not that we’re biased in any way). Of course, we all know of its classic uses in puddings and desserts, but a wee bit of chocolate can really bring a lot to the table in savoury dishes too! This isn’t news to those of us who enjoy Mexican food, as the infinitely popular dish ‘mole poblano’ famously boasts chocolate as an ingredient. In this sauce, it helps battle the spice of the chillies as well as adding a touch of complexity. The old faithful chilli con carne has been known to contain a bit of chocolate from time to time too, especially vegetarian versions (chilli sin carne, if you will), where it can help offer the richness that beef usually brings.
Now, before we go any further, we’re not suggesting for a second that there is such a thing as ‘spare’ or ‘excess’ chocolate – this is not a ‘use up leftover Easter chocolate’ blog by any means. But we’re all guilty of falling into boring midweek meal habits, and it’s fun to try new recipes and foods, or even just new ways of spicing up old favourites – so why not give chocolate a go? There isn’t a better time to try than just after Easter when our cupboards are lovely and full of chocolate. So here we go, some simple ideas for squeezing a wee bit more chocolate into your diet.
1. Chocolate Balsamic Dressing
The very epitome of ‘sprucing it up’, this dressing is easy-peasy to whip together and makes such a difference to a Sunday dinner. It’s perfect over roasted root veg; a mix of sweet potatoes, parsnips, beetroot and maybe even a wee red onion would be ideal, but just a couple of humble carrots would certainly do the trick too. Simply combine some balsamic vinegar with a wee dod of mustard (any kind of mustard except American will do but if you’ve got Dijon, use that) in a pot over medium-low heat and bring to a gentle simmer for about five minutes, stirring to make sure the mustard mixes in nicely. When you’re almost ready to serve, melt in a couple of squares of dark chocolate then pour sparingly over your roasted veggies et voila, a healthy (sort of, right?) chocolate recipe!
2. Creamy Mushroom Risotto
If you thought dark chocolate in your dinner was strange, wait for this – white chocolate! Honestly though, a couple of squares of white chocolate melted in during the final stages of a creamy mushroom risotto makes all the difference! It can just give it that luxurious complexity that’s usually reserved for risottos you order in fancy restaurants. We think a pinch of tarragon and maybe some parsley goes really well, but you can play around and see what you think! Whatever herbs you choose, white chocolate can be the magic ingredient to an indulgent, homemade risotto.
3. Pasta in Marinara Sauce
Or, as it’s more commonly known here in Scotland – tomato pasta (we’re a simple people, are we not?). Whatever you call it, you’d be hard pushed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy this dish – making this slightly more elegant version a sure winner. Alongside your usual garlic, basil and oregano, chuck some dark chocolate into the chopped tomatoes at the end. It really combats the acidity of the tomatoes and rounds out the whole sauce! Spoon over pasta and throw some parmesan – and maybe a wee basil leaf, if you’re feeling fancy - on top and wait for the compliments to the chef flooding in.
4. Port and Chocolate Sauce
The perfect homemade treat - this sauce is another one that’s quick and easy to make but is really going to elevate your meal to the next level. Just mix some port and a bit of beef stock in a pot before adding some dark chocolate and a sprig of rosemary. If you don’t have any port in the cupboard, red wine will work too.
Port and chocolate are big, decadent flavours, so pair this sauce with something that’s going to stand up to them, like beef or venison. If you’re looking for a vegetarian or vegan option, mushrooms, parsnips or a nut roast would be lovely too.