Chocolate and bacon have gained some traction in recent years, and for good reason, because they go together delectably. I was surprised to see that a quick Google search for “chocolate and bacon” brought up more than four million pages, with the king’s share going to a very diverse array of recipes.
However, it’s not the only show in town when it comes to chocolate pairings people might not expect. All kinds of restaurants and culinary institutions have been getting creative with chocolate, and the results are often surprising. At the very least, they always provide an excuse to eat more chocolate.
Healthy baking ideas
Even Martha Stewart has a recipe for a chocolate beet cake. The beets aren’t really there for flavor, but add a great moistness to the cake and help to set the stage for a delicious chocolate flavor.
Other vegetables, such as zucchini, are commonly paired with chocolate in the world of baking. My own experiment with chocolate zucchini muffins surprised me a great deal, and it’s a bit healthier than your standard muffin composition. Only a bit, but enough to get away with it.
Sweeten up your Holidays
At this time of year people are thinking about holiday meals and autumnal themes, and there are a great many ways to bring chocolate into the mix. You wouldn’t normally associate chocolate with an autumn meal, but bitter chocolate can have that earthy feeling as your basic prerequisite, and a little sweetness at the table is needed for those who aren’t necessarily in love with cranberry sauce.
A lot of people tend to dramatically overestimated how many cranberries their guests will enjoy on Thanksgiving, but if you do have leftovers you can put them to great use. Even something as simple as chocolate-covered cranberries can be surprisingly delicious, and there are a ton of recipes out there that incorporate leftover cranberry sauce.
You probably don’t want to overwhelm your holiday dishes with chocolate flavor, because most of the time you still want to maintain that rustic, harvest motif, but it can certainly enhance a number of dishes and– of course– desserts.
My favorite seasonal recipes with chocolate involve pecans, because it’s a marriage that works within the context of a Thanksgiving or a Christmas dinner and allows for a lot of chocolate flavor without overstaying its welcome. Try something like a chocolate coconut pecan tart, or for a gluten-free option for your guests, a simple and delicious chocolate pecan pie.
A Playful Approach to Cooking
No matter what you’re making, thinking up ways to include your favorite flavors is a worthy exercise, and chocolate goes with a lot more than most people tend to assume. Even if your experiments don’t work out, at least you’ve likely got a bit of extra chocolate around to console yourself.