Monthly Archives: March 2012

Chocolate Dipped Bacon aka Au Chocolat #2

Second Course – “BCC” aka Bacon Chocolate Cheese

I’m in with those that believe bacon can pretty much make anything better.  Chocolate is no exception.

I took some inspiration for this second amuse from Vosges Chocolat.  They make a bacon chocolate truffle and bar which are both quite yummy.  They also have a Taleggio truffle which, admittedly, I have not yet tried, but I’m sure it is yummy as well.

I wanted the bacon to act as a spoon of sorts with one good bite of chocolate, bacon, and cheese.  When you take a piece of bacon out of the frying pan, it is malleable, as it cools, it hardens.  So, I got this idea that I could shape it.  I was able to get the bacon into a kind of dramatic-y wave.  Not exactly what I had imagined it was going to look like, but for some reason this is the shape I just started making, so I went with it.

We had one turn out kind of like a scorpion tail, it even got a little accidental dip of chocolate on the tip of the “tail”.  That was my favorite one.

You’ll need:

4 or so pieces of Double Smoked Bacon

3-4 ounces of Bittersweet Chocolate (70%) I used Callebaut chocolate

A chunk of Taleggio Cheese

Fennel Fronds for garnish

Fry up the bacon.  I went with a double smoked bacon from Whole Foods because I thought the extra smoky quality would offset the sweetness of the chocolate and lend a slight bit more emphasis to the savory side of things.

Next came the shaping.  Shaping the bacon on its side is about the only way to accomplish this without using a mold of sorts.  Establish the bottom which is to be dipped in the chocolate.  Try to flatten it out.  You want to have a stable base for it to stand up on.  With the arch, you want the top to curve just a bit over the base which should help distribute the weight evenly to both the front and back.

(Once set, I tried to stand them up to prove to the naysayers that they would indeed stand…and they just fell over.  I, thinking quickly on my feet, pointed out that once dipped in chocolate the extra weight at the base would allow them to be free standing.  Which, of course, had totally been calculated into the entire design.  Luckily, they did stand with the chocolate in place.)

Now that the bacon is firm and holding its shape, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or a metal bowl over a small pot of gently simmering water.

Dip the base end of the bacon into the chocolate, coating top and bottom.  Like me, you may need to enlist the help of a spoon.  Stand these upright to dry on wax paper.

Slice the cheese into smallish rectangles and place onto the dry chocolate.  Garnish with a fennel frond. The fennel adds the right burst of color and slight anise aromatic, subtly connecting to the Truffles course.

One more frond to go.


“Truffles” aka Au Chocolat #1

First Course – “Truffles”

I think amuse bouches should be a little surprising, playful and, of course, tasty.  I wanted the first two courses to, in one bite or so, balance the sweet vs savory vs non-traditional nature of what I was hoping to achieve throughout the entire dinner.

I’m not quite sure how I got around to scallops, but at some point in my brainstorming, I was trying to put together seafood and chocolate.  Then, I thought about truffles, big surprise there.  Rolling small scallops in cacao powder could make them look like little truffles.  Biting into them would play against expectations with a salty, sweet combo.  I had no idea if this would even remotely taste good…

I decided on bay scallops because the small size would be more in line with the typical size of chocolate truffles.  Originally, the scallops were to be poached in white wine and butter.  Then, I thought about poaching them in cream, which was more in line with the truffle theme.  I couldn’t really decide which would be better, and maybe I should do neither and just saute them in brown butter.

A taste test was in order,  I poached, sauteed, poached, let them cool to about room temp, and rolled them in cacao powder.  The winner was the scallops poached in milk (I didn’t have cream at the time) and anise seeds (a spur of the moment adjustment).  I mortar and pestled a little turbinado sugar and added that to the unsweetened cacao before rolling.

A quick note on the scallops.  We tested and served these dishes with scallops purchased at Whole Foods, I wanna say that they were wild caught.  They tasted great.  For a photo staging shot, I recreated them using cheap farm raised bay scallops purchased from King Soopers.  They were practically inedible.  Moral of the story: with this particular dish, maybe more so than with others, the quality of the seafood will make or break it.  I’m sure you can get good seafood at King Soopers and can have bad experiences with Whole Foods, but quality is super important.

What you will need:

14 Bay Scallops

1 Cup Whole Milk or Heavy Cream

1 tsp. Anise Seeds

Salt and Pepper

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cacao Powder

1 tsp. Turbinado Sugar

Candied Lemon Peel for Garnish

Sprinkle the raw scallops with a little sea salt and black pepper.  Heat milk and anise in a small pan over medium heat.

When bubbles start to form around the edges of the milk and steam is arising add scallops and cook for about 1 minute.  I tilted the pan and pushed all the scallops into the deep end of the pool and using a spoon moved the scallops around a little to ensure even cooking.  It is preferable to under cook rather than over cook these, just saying.  When they are almost done scoop them out with a spoon, leaving as much of the liquid behind as you can, and cool on a plate.

Put the sugar into the mortar and pestle and grind it up to as close to a powder as you can.  Mix the sugar and cacao powder together in another bowl.  After the scallops are at room temp, this does not take much more than 5 minutes, roll them in the powder.  Just like making chocolate truffles, right.

I served three to each person, plus a couple to the little archer, garnished with a candied lemon peel.

I served this with a sparkling rose.  Segura Viudas Brut Rose, to be exact.

the 3 Archers present – Au Chocolat

So, I had been talking about doing a chocolate dinner for about two years, and I finally came through on my promise to do it.  My goal was to have each course utilize chocolate in a more unexpected way then usual and to balance the savory and sweet aspects of chocolate.  Mole, not surprisingly, was the first thing that came to mind, but it seemed too obvious to just simply do a typical mole dish.  So I started thinking of ways to take the flavors a bit outside of their element.  Ravioli!  Wait… I’m getting ahead of myself.  This is just the introduction, and I’ll go into more detail later.  Cue the photos:

A peek at the menu.

Scallop Truffles – Scallops poached in cream and anise then rolled in a lightly sweetened cacao powder.

BCC – Double smoked bacon dipped in Callebaut bittersweet chocolate and topped with a morsel of Taleggio and fennel fronds.

Salad – Portobello mushroom marinated in red wine and chocolate then broiled and finished with a lemon – mint – cacao nib vinaigrette.

Orange Sorbet Float – Lightly sweet and tart sorbet with sparkling club soda and chocolate bitters.

 Soup – a creamy chocolate and walnut soup garnished with a leek and goat cheese relish.  Finished with a drizzle of orange oils.

(Yes, I did wipe the rims of those cups before serving.)

Pasta – Chocolate ravioli filled with chicken and onions presented on a bed of Oaxacan Mole and sprinkled with fresh cilantro and sesame seeds

This ravioli shot was, admittedly, a little after the fact.  When I served it the ravioli was totally not curling up on the corners.

Southside – Gin, fresh lemon juice, mint, and simple syrup shaken and strained.

 Chocolate Chip Mint Sorbet – Refreshing sorbet made with fresh mint leaves served with cacao nibs.

Imagine a little white chocolate, curried coconut milk sauce drizzled on top of these.  Then, garnished with cilantro and toasted Spanish peanuts.  (I got in the cooking zone and wasn’t really thinking about taking photos, sorry.)

Again…This dish lacked a final photo, the country style pork rib rubbed in a mixture of ground coffee, unsweetened cacao powder, ginger, salt and pepper and then broiled was set opposite the greens and garnished with a lemon wheel.  If you close your eyes and concentrate hard enough, you can see it.  I’ll try to mock one up for the recipe edition.

Dessert – Chocolate bars stone ground and tempered in house.  Served with a Chocolate Pear Tea.

Whew!  And then batboy was very tired.

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