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Chili Con Carne - cocoa?

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Since its so cold tonight, I figure some chili is good. The receipe I have is the Nigella Lawson's, and it calls for 2 tbsp of cocoa. My bf is not a fan of cocoa in the chili. Does anyone know if I can just omit the cocoa all together? Or do I need to replaced it with something to keep the depth in falvor?
Thank you!

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  1. Sure you can omit it, although I find you generally don't taste cocoa in chili as cocoa per se -- as you said, it just adds depth and complexity of flavor. I bet if you didn't tell your bf there was cocoa in it, he wouldn't notice. What to use instead is an interesting problem, though. Coffee, maybe? That would add some bitterness and "darkness" of flavor.

    1. Of course you can leave it out. IMO coffee would be even more discernable in chili than cocoa or chocolate. I'd suggest beer. Also the meat can provide some depth of flavor..

      1. I just made chili today too -- didn't have any cocoa so I tossed in a small bar of 60% chocolate. it's completely 'untaste-able- as chocolate, just adds a bit of something rich.

        You could add a tich of anchovies if you wanted more background flavour.

        I used stout in the chili too

        1. I like to add cocoa to my chili. It blends in adding sweetness and depth of flavour.
          When in a Chili Competition it becomes a problem though because it muddies up the colour and makes the batch less "red".
          I don't add beans, to me Chili is just Meat & Sauce but cook a pot of spicy Pinto Beans with Chipotles as a side dish.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Da_Cook

            Cocoa isn't sweet, but it is bitter, which is what enhances the flavors. Beer is also bitter, so it will probably function similarly. It's also a fairly standard chili ingredient I should have thought of myself.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I'm gonna disagree. Cocoa has a sweet flavour (and it's bitter too). But when added to Chili or Mole (where the idea came from) the result is a rich, sweet mellowness.
              Da Cook

          2. My husband uses a bit of cocoa in his chili, and it's absolutely delicious. However, if you don't want to add it, I am sure you could use a little more paprika or maybe some dark beer.