Indulgently delicious, endlessly versatile and brimming with proven health benefits, there's so many ways to enjoy dark chocolate.
Pair it on its own with a glass of red wine, use it as a starring ingredient in traditional desserts like mousses and tortes, or try adding it to a savoury dish for an extra cocoa kick.
To coincide with our recent dark chocolate taste test of 37 brands, let us inspire you with seven unique and unexpected ways to cook with chocolat noir. Bon appétit!
Dark chocolate isn't just for desserts – it can be used to accentuate flavour and texture in a variety of savoury meals too. Here are three fantastic food ideas that feature dark chocolate for you to try.
Meat marinades and BBQ sauces
Dark chocolate is delicious, sizzling meats are too, so why not combine both? Using chocolate in traditional barbecue sauces and marinades can add a smooth, deep flavour to your favourite finger-licking foods.
You can add dark chocolate to recipes that include spicy flavours, such as chilli, which works to add body, colour and depth to your dish and also helps balance out any acidity from tomatoes, if they feature in your dish.
There are a plethora of great ideas online for your next cook-up, so do check out your favourite recipe websites and search for dark chocolate marinades, chilli sauces and red wine chocolate glazes.
Chocolate salad vinaigrette
Salad with a dark chocolate vinaigrette? Why not? Stone fruits and dark chocolate are truly a match made in heaven, so this vinaigrette is the perfect topping for any salad that incorporates cherries, peaches, plums and more.
Best of all, it's simple to make. Melt around 30g of dark chocolate until smooth, then pulse in a blender with one tablespoon each of red wine vinegar and olive oil until smooth. Drizzle over your salad and enjoy.
Dark chocolate meat pie
Believe it or not, adding dark chocolate can give a meat pie filling a much smoother texture and a richer flavour. If your pie also includes stout or ale, the addition of dark chocolate can also balance out the bitterness of the alcohol beautifully.
There are many different types of pie you could enrich by adding dark chocolate to the filling – beef cheek and ale, beef and Guinness, venison and chilli or beef, chilli and chorizo.
Generally speaking, you should aim to melt your dark chocolate into your pie liquid as a final step – after it has simmered and reduced down to around half and just before you combine it with your meat and set into a pie dish.
Dark chocolate has long been a dessert hero; from cakes to puddings, truffles to brownies, there's no end to the ways this versatile ingredient can enhance a sweet treat. Here's some ideas to get your tastebuds tingling.
Dark chocolate bread puddings
Bread puddings are a classic family favourite and, best of all, easy to make! A traditional bread pudding is made up of milk/cream, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla and raisins but there are endless variations to be made – from the type of bread you choose to use (brioche, croissants, challah bread) to the spices you add (i.e. cinnamon, nutmeg).
The addition of dark chocolate to a bread pudding contributes a tantalisingly rich flavour to its custard, which then soaks decadently into the bread and creates a drool-worthy, brownie-like dessert to savour.
This mix of nuts, dark chocolate and dried fruit can offer nutrients like antioxidants, fibre and healthy fats and is an excellent alternative to reaching for a chocolate bar or pastry at that mid-afternoon slump.
For a cranberry and dark chocolate trail mix, all you need is 600g of dark chocolate cut up into small snack-size pieces, one-and-a-half cups of dried cranberries, same again of sliced almonds, a cup of raisins, a cup of chopped walnuts and half a cup of pistachios. Combine all ingredients, store in an airtight container and enjoy!
There are so many different options when making your own trail mixes and we've chosen just one to suggest here. But be sure to let your creativity – and taste buds – guide you on what you might add to your version.
Sneaky vegetable and dark chocolate cakes
Adding vegetables to baked goods like cakes and muffins has been a sneaky way to up vegetable intake and make these treats healthier. From zucchini to pumpkin, beetroot to carrot and even rhubarb, vegetables provide cakes with natural moisture.
But not everyone is fooled by this clever vegie trick, so to appease those with an aversion to grated veg in their cakes, you can incorporate some dark chocolate to the mix to provide it with a rich, smooth flavour and texture.
Add it to the cake itself or double up on the dark chocolate by adding it to your favourite icing recipe and apply once the cake has cooled.
Fiona Mair's dark chocolate rocky road
When it comes to cooking with dark chocolate, it's hard to beat rocky road. Here, CHOICE home economist Fiona Mair shares her recipe for this classic treat with a tropical twist.
- 200g dark chocolate, break into small pieces
- 200g marshmallows, cut into ¼
- ¼ cup shredded coconut
- ½ cup almonds, chopped
- ½ cup glacé fruit ( pineapple, mango, figs, ginger) chopped
- Place chocolate into a microwave safe bowl, melt on high for 1 minute (for 900–1000w models) stir well, heat at 30- second intervals until melted.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, pour in chocolate. Mix well.
- Press mixture into a tray 2-3cm thick.
- Refrigerate until firm and cut into squares.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.