Aubergine salad with cocoa nib crispbread

Aubergines can be a little flavourless but their spongy properties allow this vegetable to absorb flavours so well.

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Aubergine salad with cocoa nib crispbread, , hi-res

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Aubergines can be a little flavourless but their spongy properties allow this vegetable to absorb flavours so well. They are spiced up in this recipe and the chilli goes very well with the chocolate taste and crunch of the cacao nibs.

Aubergines can be a little flavourless but their spongy properties allow this vegetable to absorb flavours so well. They are spiced up in this recipe and the chilli goes very well with the chocolate taste and crunch of the cacao nibs.

The yoghurt, coriander and mint are a soothing contrast to the heat, and of course the crispbread rounds the whole dish off with a nice crunch

The yoghurt, coriander and mint are a soothing contrast to the heat, and of course the crispbread rounds the whole dish off with a nice crunch

  • For the aubergine salad
  • 350g aubergine
  • 1 tbsp coriander roughly chopped
  • 350g ripe red tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion peeled and medium diced
  • 3 tbsp spiced chocolate glaze [burger recipe]
  • 1-2 tsp hot chilli sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled and grated
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
For the aubergine:
  1. Cut the aubergines into 1cm cubes then sprinkle with 1 tbsp salt. Place in a colander and allow to drain for 1 hour. This will get rid of excess water and remove some of the bitterness.
  2. Skin the tomatoes by plunging into boiling water for 10 seconds. Then remove to a bowl of iced water. Peel and deseed the tomatoes and chop into small dice.
  3. In a frying pan, dry roast the cumin seeds until fragrant and they start to jump around the pan. Remove from pan and allow to cool. Place on a piece of baking paper, fold half over the seeds and with a rolling pin, roll the seeds until you have a fine powder.
  4. In a medium size pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat, fry the onions until soft and pale brown. Add the grated garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cumin stir and cook for 30 seconds. Now gently squeeze out the excess water from the aubergines, add to the onion mix and cook until all sides of the aubergines start to brown at the edges.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook until all the liquid has reduced to a dry mix. This should take around 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat add the spiced chocolate glaze and  the chilli sauce to taste and salt and pepper. Allow to cool then stir in the chopped herbs.
  6. Cover and store in the fridge for at least 12 hours to allow the flavours to develop.
For the cocoa nib yoghurt:
  1.  125ml thick natural Greek yogurt
  2. 3 tbsp cocoa nibs 
  3. Preheat the oven to 120C
  4. Place the nibs on a baking tray and heat in the oven for 10 minutes. Tip the yogurt into a bowl. Remove the nibs from the oven and tip into the yogurt, stir well, cover and place in the fridge for a couple of hours or longer for better flavour

To serve:

Divide the aubergine amongst four plates, serve small pots of yogurt alongside and have a bowl of crispbread for all to help themselves.

Notes to help you get the most out of your cocoa and chocolate.


Depending on the kind of cocoa you use, how much you use and how you use it, cocoa and chocolate will have a different effect on the taste and experience of your dishes. In each of our recipes, we’ll tell you how much influence it will have, in our cocoa notes:

Low – a subtle hint, playing a bass note in the harmony of flavours.

Medium – a rich interplay of cocoa with other leading ingredients.

High – cocoa starring role.

 

The Character of Cocoa

The flavour of cocoa and the chocolate it produces varies depending on where the cocoa is grown. Different growing regions have different personalities, each pairing well with other ingredients.

 

Madagascar, Vietnam

Fruit-led flavours, refreshing in the mouth – perfect with fruits, dark meats and game.

 

Saint Lucia, Trinidad, Java

Complex and multi-layered flavours jostling for position. Goes with pork, chicken and wines.

 

Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Peru, Ecuador

Roasted flavours, led by mellow notes of roasted nuts. Ideal with fish, eggs and desserts.

 

Demystifying Cocoa Percentages

The percentages used on chocolate labels can sometimes seem a bit confusing. A 40% milk chocolate, for example, is not made with 40% milk. The percentage always refers to the amount of cocoa used in the recipe, and the rest will either be all sugar (darks) or milk and sugar (milks/whites).

You’ll find higher percentages in dark chocolate recipes, with less in milk, and least in white. Surprisingly, one of the UK’s most famous dark chocolates contains just 39% cocoa, and its milk counterpart only 23%. That means the largest ingredient overall is sugar. We believe this is wrong. We always prefer to use more cocoa in our chocolate for an authentic and satisfying cocoa hit. We put 40 – 70% cocoa in our milk and Supermilk chocolate, and 70-100% in our dark.

Our white chocolate has a much higher cocoa percentage than average, at 36%.

Sugar only costs a tenth of the price of even the cheapest cocoa beans, so it’s no wonder that it is tempting for low – quality makers to use so much of it. But in the world of fine chocolate, deciding on whether to use, say 73% or 75% cocoa in a recipe is the chocolatier’s choice and depends on the quality, character and flavour profile of the bean harvest. In many ways, deciding the cocoa percentage is like deciding the alcohol level in a good wine.

 

How To Melt Your Chocolate

In a Bain-Marie (recommended)

This traditional method offers a great deal of control. Put your chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl doesn’t actually touch the hot water (or it can burn the chocolate). Heat in the steam for about 2 minutes until fully melted, stirring occasionally.

 

In a Microwave

Put your chocolate in the microwave on high power for a total of 40-50 seconds, but only in 10 second bursts, stirring in between to ensure it doesn’t burn. Stop when fully melted.

 

Essential Cocoa Nib Know-How

Knowing how to extract the best flavours from your cocoa nibs is essential to many of our recipes. It’s easy to buy cocoa nibs these days, but they can be of variable quality. Follow our tips below to make sure you get the most flavour possible from your nibs.

 

Awakening your Nibs

Often your nibs will have a silver grey hue to them as they have oxidised around the outside. This is harmless, but we recommend you grind them vigorously in a pestle and mortar for 30 seconds. You’ll see the nibs turn a gorgeous mahogany brown, their amazing flavour and aroma awoken at the same time.

 

Soak them in Water

After awakening, the nibs may still be hard and flinty. Soak them in a little hot water (just enough to cover them) for about 20 minutes which will soften them, the soaking liquid can be set aside as a flavoursome stock.

 

Storing your Nibs

Just like coffee, roasted nibs should be kept in an airtight container. If you are able to source ‘just roasted’ nibs or have made your own, you can freeze them in an airtight container until needed, retaining maximum flavour.

  • preparation time: Overnight mins
  • cooking time: 20 mins
  • ease of preparation: Easy
  • serves: 6

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