Tag Archives: Chocolate

Molé Raviolé, Part 2

Now that the molé is prepared, we can start on the filling for our raviolis.  Chicken Molé is classic.  Making the molé (ahead of time for the chocolate dinner) took most of the day, and I was so ready to be done cooking!  It seemed silly that after spending so much time in the kitchen, we would still need to make dinner.  Luckily, the molé made far more than I was going to need for Au Chocolate.  So, I poured some of the sauce back into the pot, added some chicken thighs, and simmered until cooked through.  Garnished it with a little lime, sesame seeds, and fresh cilantro.  It was fantastic.

For the dinner, I wanted to encapsulate that taste combo inside of a chocolate pasta shell.  And for the most part, it worked!

Molé Raviolé

For the filling:

2 T Olive Oil

1 Small-Medium Onion, Minced

2 Cloves Garlic, Minced

1/2 Pound of Ground Chicken

1 Cup Molé

Zest of 1 Lime, Chopped

2 T Cilantro, Chopped

Salt and Pepper

Heat a large saute pan over medium-low, then add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, stirring frequently to keep from burning.

Turn heat up to medium and add the chicken.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Stir, breaking up the ground meat chunks as needed.  Remember we’re going to be making raviolis.

When most of the pink has browned out of the chicken, about 5 minutes, stir in the molé.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to a maintain a slow simmer.  Now stir in the lime zest.

Let the sauce reduce until most of the liquid has cooked out, about 20-30 minutes.  Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro.  Allow the filling to cool before filling the pasta.

For the Pasta:

1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour

3 T Cacao Powder, Unsweetened

1 Extra Large Egg

1 T Water

Combine the flour and the cacao powder until well mixed.  Mound with the flour on your work surface.  Make a crater in the center of the mound and crack in your egg.

With a fork, whisk the yolk into the whites, then slowly start working in the flour,  scraping from the inner sides of the crater.  When the egg and flour starts to firm up and form a loose dough, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty.  Push the outer ring of flour onto the egg mixture and scoop up the dough into a ball.

Knead the dough, incorporating more flour if needed.  Once the dough takes on a bit of shine and is no longer sticking to your fingers, you can proceed to the rolling stage.

I used a pasta machine.  About halfway through the rolling, I cut the sheet of pasta in half.  I covered one half with plastic wrap and continued to roll out the other.  I brought it to the next to last thinness setting and then did the same thing with the other sheet.  The goal is to have two equal sized sheets of pasta.  If you do not have a machine, you can definitely do this with a rolling pin.  Bring it to about 1/8 inch thickness.

Lay one sheet flat (keeping the other under plastic wrap) and with the water in a little bowl, lightly mark some squares with a pastry brush.  In the center of those squares, place about a tablespoon or so of the filling.  Next, lightly go over the edges of square with the pastry brush and water.

Lay the second sheet of pasta over the filling.  Gently press down around the filling.  Try to minimize air pockets while also not tearing the pasta.  If you do tear the pasta, no worries, just make a little pasta patch with some of the scrap dough, pinch it flat between your fingers and glue it over the tear with a little water.  Cut the raviolis into squares and lightly, but firmly mark the edges with a fork.  Trim up any rough edges.

Delicately, toss the raviolis with a little flour to keep them from sticking.  For this tasting menu I made large single raviolis; one for each plate.  I ended up with 6 or 7 total.

Putting it all together…

Bring a large pot of salted water to a full boil over high heat.   In a small pot heat about 3 cups of the molé over medium-low.

When the water is boiling, gently add the raviolis, depending on the size of your pot you may not be able to cook them all at once.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the pasta is tender.  I like to make a couple of tester strips of pasta and cook them with the raviolis, so I can pull them out to taste their progress.  During the cooking process the raviolis will likely float.  If they do, flip them over halfway through so they can cook evenly.

When the pasta pockets are ready, ladle about a half cup of the molé onto the center of a plate.  With a slotted spoon or skimmer, scoop up a ravioli and let it drain briefly.  Place the ravioli on top of the molé, garnish with sesame seeds, lime wedge and cilantro.

As previously mentioned, this final photo was a bit after the fact.  When it was served the ravioli was totally not curling up at the corners and the sesame seed garnish is strangely absent here, but it still looks pretty good, I think.

I served this with a South Side Cocktail.  Stay tuned.


Molé Raviolé, part 1 – Au Chocolat #4

Fifth course – Part 1, Making the Molé

Tell someone your making a chocolate dinner or that you are using chocolate for a savory dish and they’ll think molé.  This happened several times to me when I would tell people what I was planning to do.  I’m guilty of it too, since it was the first thing I considered when I started brainstorming the dinner.  Anticipating this, I decided to take the molé in a bit of a different direction and use it as a filling for ravioli.  Then, I thought, to add a bit more novelty, I would make the pasta with chocolate powder.

For the molé sauce, I borrowed from Rick Bayless.  Below is with my variation with only some slight changes.

Oaxacan Black Molé

4 Ancho chilies, dried

3 Negro chilies, dried

2 Guajillo chilies, dried

1 Large Onion (I used yellow, Bayless would tell you to use white, though)

3 cloves Garlic

1/4 + 3 T Cup Peanut Oil

1/4 Cup Almonds

1/4 Cup Spanish Peanuts

1/4 Cup Peacans

1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds

8 Cups Chicken Broth

1/2 Cup Sultanas (Golden Raisins)

4 Tomatillos, husked and quartered

4 Plum Tomatoes, peeled (I used canned)

1/2 Cup Tomato Juice (from the above can)

1/2 tsp Coriander Seeds

1/4 tsp Cloves, ground

1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground

1/2 tsp Cinnamon, ground

1/2 tsp Cumin, ground

1 tsp Oregano, ground (use fresh if you have it)

1/2 tsp Thyme, fresh

1/2 Banana, ripe

1/2 Cup Bread crumbs (homemade are best)

1-2 Chipotles in adobo

1/2 Cup Chocolate (Unsweetened or Bittersweet)

1 Bay Leaf

1 tsp Anise Seed

1/4 Cup Turbinado Sugar

1 T Salt, Kosher

Additional Salt and Pepper to taste

This is probably the most ingredients I have ever used to make just one dish.  Plan on spending most the day making this.

Alright, here we go:

Stem and seed the dried chilies.  Discard the stems and add about half of the seeds to a dry skillet over medium high heat until they are black, shaking the pan periodically, if you had a corn tortilla on hand go ahead and tear it into pieces and blacken it with the seeds.  You’re going to want the exhaust fan on for this.

Once they’re nice and charred, transfer them to a mesh strainer and rinse with running water for 30 seconds or so.  Add them to the food processor.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Toss the unpeeled cloves of garlic to the same pan and toast.  Turning the garlic as needed to get an even blackening, about 10 minutes.

Remove the garlic and add the sliced onion, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and cook until dry and slightly blackened, another 10-15 minutes; turning frequently so that they don’t burn.

Peel the garlic and add it, and the onions to the food processor along with the chili seeds.  Pour 1/2 cup of chicken broth into the food processor and puree until smooth.  Transfer that puree to a bowl and set aside.  Don’t worry about cleaning or even rinsing the processor, we’re going to use it again.

On a sheet pan, add the almonds, peanuts, and pecans and pop them in the oven to toast just until fragrant about 5 minutes.  Then add the sesame seeds and toast for another 3-4 minutes.

In the saute pan add 1/4 cup of the peanut oil.  When the oil is hot add the dried chilies and fry, turning to cook on both sides, until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.

Depending on the size of your pan you may want to saute these in batches.  Let cool/drain on paper towels for a few minutes then transfer to a bowl along with the sultanas.

Cover with warm water and let soak for about 30 minutes.

Add nuts to the food processor with 1 1/2 cups of broth and puree.  Transfer to another bowl.

Now add the tomatillos, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of tomato juice (or broth if you used fresh tomatoes) to the food processor and puree.  Transfer that puree to yet another bowl.

Next for the food processor: coriander seeds, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, thyme, banana, and bread crumbs, 3/4 cup broth and puree.  Transfer to a bowl.

Now drain the chilies and sultanas for the water, reserving the soaking liquid.  Put the chilies and sultanas in the food processor with the chipotles and 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid then puree.

Heat a large pot over medium.  Add 3 T of peanut oil, when it shimmers add the tomato puree.  Reduce until about the consistency of tomato paste, 15-20 minutes.

Add the the nut puree and the blackened seed/onion/garlic puree, stir it in and reduce until thick and pasty, another 10 minutes or so.  Next mix in the banana/spice puree and cook for another 5 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low.  Add the chili puree and reduce, stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes.  You want it to end up thick and dark.

Now stir in 5 cups of broth plus 2 cups of soaking liquid and bring to a simmer.  Add 1/2 cup chopped chocolate, bay leaf, anise seeds, and continue to simmer partly covered for an hour.  I ended up getting a wild hair and decided to practice making my own chocolate from cacao nibs.  We’ll delve more into this on a future blog.

It would definitely, be easier to just use already made chocolate.   In that case, I would recommend Taza’s Mexicano Stone Ground Chocolate disc.

Next, add the turbinado sugar and the salt.  I used an immersion blender to puree the molé again before pressing the whole lot through a medium mesh strainer into a large bowl.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, sugar, etc.

The molé can be made several days in advance.  Up next , we’ll mix up some filling, pasta, and put it all together.

Broiled Portobello “Salad” – Au Chocolat #3

Third Course – “Salad”

This was, I think, the favorite of the evening.  It was mine at least.  I love mushrooms and I figured the earthy, meaty flavors would find some common ground with chocolate.  The rest of the dish just kind of fell together.

Portobello caps marinated in red wine and chocolate.  Broil them to gain a little caramelizing and cook the mushroom through.  It would also make for a nice crust.  Slicing the mushroom would reveal a pale flesh to offset the broiled skin.

I read about a balsamic vinaigrette that used cacao nibs on an arugula salad, and that sounded good plus balsamic and mushrooms are a great pair.  However, the mushroom and marinade was rich and warming… so, I decided to go in a brighter and more bracing  direction especially since it was so early on in the dinner.  I kept the cacao nibs, but changed the acid to lemon juice and tossed in some mint to add a garden fresh quality.

Broiled Portobello Salad

2-3 Portobello Mushroom Caps

For Marinade:

1 Cup Red Wine (California Zinfandel or Australian Shiraz)

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cacao Powder

2 T Turbinado Sugar

1 tsp Kosher Salt

For Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup Olive Oil

3 T Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed

1 T Shallots, minced

2 tsp Fresh Mint, chopped

2 tsp Cacao Nibs

Salt and Pepper

First, you want to get the mushrooms marinating.  In a mortar, I added the salt, sugar, and cacao powder.  Grind this around to mix and break up the larger crystals of sugar and salt, scoop down the sides and bottom with a spoon as needed.  When it is all roughly the same consistency, scoop out into another bowel then add the wine.  Stir it up well until the powder has dissolved.

During the trials for this, I used an Italian red wine which, on its own, had a briny acidity and tart red berry fruit flavor.  The resulting marinade was really salty and actually, pretty gross.  I used it anyway and the mushrooms turned out great.  However, I decided for a better balance a fruitier, plusher style of red wine was needed.  On the night of the dinner, I opted for a Rosenblum Zinfandell and while the marinade was still quite salty, it was much more pleasant.

Pour marinade into a gallon sized plastic bag, add cleaned portobello caps, and seal the bag.  Slosh the bag lightly to ensure the mushrooms are well saturated, but not so much that they break apart.  Refrigerate for about 3 hours.

Preheat the broiler.  Remove the mushrooms from the marinade and place in a roasting pan.  When the broiler is nice and hot, toss the mushrooms in.  Broil for 10 – 15 minutes turning every 2-3 minutes for even browning.

While the portobellos are cooking, start the vinaigrette.  Mince the shallots, chop the mint, lightly chop cacao nibs (if they are large), and juice the lemon.

In a medium bowl, add it all plus salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk it around a little then add the oil and whisk it to form an emulsion.  Taste and adjust seasoning adding more lemon juice, mint, and/or salt  pepper, if you like.

After the mushrooms are done, let them rest a few minutes before slicing.  Then with a sharp knife gently slice about 1/4 inch thick strips across the mushroom.

I allotted about 1/2 of a mushroom cap per serving and arranged each strip overlapping the last and so on.  Then spoon the vinaigrette down the center of the mushroom cascade.

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.

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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