If you have a bar of cooking chocolate sitting in the cupboard and you don’t know what to do with it then don’t fret – we are here to help!
Cooking chocolate is a confusing term, as it can mean a couple of different things. Some recipes call for sugar free cooking chocolate, or 100% cocoa chocolate, which is harder to melt but has an intense savoury flavour. Most recipes just call for dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more) which has a smoother melt and added sweetness. Both chocolates can be used for sweet and savoury cooking, or simply eating!
If you’re feeling lazy, then feel free to open up your chocolate and eat it as it is, but we’ve put together some cooking ideas to inspire you.
Cooking chocolate is a great way to add a little finesse and decadence to your desserts. One of our favourite ways to really show off the rich earthy notes of a good dark chocolate is to melt it into a ganache. A ganache is simply dark chocolate gently melted with double cream, with the optional addition of sugar, but be careful to heat it very gently – if the mixture gets too hot, it can split!
Shiny and opulent, a ganache can be used as a glaze for cakes, a dip for fruit and nuts, or as a pastry filling for a quick but sophisticated dessert. Our 100% cocoa chocolate drops are perfect for ganache, as they melt evenly and are perfect if you don’t like it too sweet. Add just a touch of sugar – or none at all!
Dark chocolate doesn’t have milk solids, so it can be used for vegan baking as well. The strong cocoa flavours can easily hold their own against classic pairings like orange and mint, but the deep chocolatey taste goes equally well with more unorthodox ingredients, such as japanese miso paste. Meera Sodha’s vegan salted miso brownies are satisfyingly fudgy, and the salty miso really highlights the rich notes in the chocolate.
Central and South Americans first made cacao beans into a rich savoury drink used in celebrations and rituals, Although we might not be used to cooking with chocolate for dinner, the earthy, nuanced accents of the cocoa flavour can add in depth and richness to a savoury meal. In fact, traditional Mexican mole blends chillies, spices and tomatoes with chunks of dark chocolate to make a savoury sauce that pairs perfectly with chicken and coriander rice.
Still not convinced? Snap off a square of cooking chocolate and pop it in your spaghetti bolognese or chili con carne The addition of cocoa adds a deep mellow flavour to the dish and works really well in both meaty or vegetarian options – once you try it, you won’t want to go back.
For meat eaters, dark chocolate pairs best with gamey red meats like venison, grouse, lamb or steak, as their flavour isn’t overpowered by the cocoa. For vegetarians, mushrooms are a good alternative, as their earthy flavour really complements the cocoa. You can either melt the chocolate into a savoury sauce to drizzle over the meal, or add it directly into a stew to give it a heady depth of flavour.
No article about cooking chocolate is complete without mentioning hot chocolate. Grate your cooking chocolate into some barely-simmering milk and whisk the ingredients until frothy and combined, adding sugar to taste. Then curl up onto your sofa, wrap your fingers around the mug and breathe in the steamy chocolatey aroma – there’s no better way to warm up on a chilly day!
At Hotel Chocolat, we have our own hot chocolate, ready grated into gossamer-thin flakes so that they start melting immediately when you sprinkle them into your milk. You can even use our Velvetiser to create barista-grade hot chocolate in just 2.5 minutes for a decadent treat.
Don’t leave that cooking chocolate sitting alone in your cupboard! Bring it out and boost your cooking repertoire by experimenting with new and delicious ways to add chocolate to your dishes.