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May 24, 2008 09:22 AM

Topic: Ideas for a chocolate themed dinner/dessert party

I'm planning a dinner party for twelve and I'd like the focus to be on chocolate. What are some ideas for entrees, salads, and desserts. I want to use all varieties of chocolates. (milk, dark, white) I would love to hear your ideas. Thanks!

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  1. Beyond the obvious mole, you can use cocoa powder as a rub for beef. Cocoa nibs in salad and pair well with stone fruit if they are in season yet. Desserts are easy of course.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jsaimd

      Definitely second cocoa powder as a rub for beef. Especially when the rub includes espresso powder and ancho or chipotle chili powder.

      If you focus on dark chocolate for dessert, you may want to consider serving a Bandol dessert wine. I believe it's made from the mouvedre grape; Cline also does a nice late harvest mouvedre. The pair is divine.

      Maybe send your guests home with a few homemade truffles?

      1. re: littlegreenpea

        Just checking...are you sure you meant BANDOL dessert wine, rather than
        BANYULS dessert wine?

        Banyuls could be the single best wine for chocolate there is, though port is very good as well. Banyuls must be at least 50% grenache. I don't know of a Bandol dessert wine.

        You can also make a stunning beef stew with cocoa and coffee, along with red wine and beef stock, that's braised in the oven for two hours. Also, chili, with cocoa stirred in the last ten minutes of cooking. Maybe a turkey mole taco could be an appetizer.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          Thanks for catching my error. I totally mis-communicated, but I did mean Bandol: I think that a red Bandol (which is mostly mouvèdre) would go nicely with unadulterated dark chocolate. And then there's late-harvest (dessert) mouvèdres, like Cline's.

          But I totally agree that Banyuls would be a wonderful pairing with dark chocolate too!

          So, for example, the OP could maybe serve a 'pre-dessert course' of red Bandol and a square of dark chocolate between the main course and the dessert; a chocolate dessert could then after pair with a late harvest mouvèdre or a Banyuls.

          1. re: littlegreenpea

            I think what you're recommending is Bandol as a mouvedre-based non-sweet wine to pair with chocolate, and also a late-harvest Mouvedre, a dessert wine -- a sweet version of the same grape.

            The only thing I think is truly critical when pairing chocolate with red wine is the darkness of the chocolate, It really has to be DARK. Like at least 72% cacao solids. It requires at least that percentage for the chocolate to be slightly bitter and only barely sweet so that the red wine doesn't taste sour when they're combined. The Relative Sweetness Rule. The chocolate tastes bitter all by itself but with the wine the two together can find this harmony. Not all the time. The only times it's worked for me have been with wines with some complexity and basso profundo notes..well-made Merlots, Cabs, sometimes Zins are OK.

            But in all honesty, red wine and chocolate are not at all the best pairing. Better are Banyuls, Porto, 20-year tawny port and Malmsey Madeira. Perhaps something like a late-harvest Zinfandel -- I like the one from Bella the best, but even so this dessert wine is better with red summer fruits: raspberries or pluots when they're in season.

            As a chocolate dessert, there's always hot chocolate, made by melting real chocolate, pouring it into a cup, and adding warmed milk/cream to it, along with a slug of Grand Marnier or other complementary spirit of your choosing. Maybe mit schlag also. You could also serve a gourmet "pastry" doughnut with this if you chose to ride on the hot chocolate and doughnut train. The French Laundry does a variation of just that, but it's Coffee and Doughnuts. Which reminds works well, and can sometimes make chocolate taste more chocolate-y.

            Where you take all this is up to you. Happy creating!

    2. A long time ago I made Medallions of Venison with Savoury Chocolate Raisin Sauce. It was delicious. You could also make it with wild boar.

      Another idea would be a mole.

      Medallions of Venison with Savoury Chocolate Raisin Sauce

      1 c. vegetable oil
      2 T. fresh rosemary
      1.5 lb venison

      combine and marinade in refrigerator overnight.

      2 T. butter
      1/2 c. shallots, chopped fine
      2 t. minced garlic
      1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
      1/2 c. red wine
      1/4 c. fresh rosemary, chopped
      2 c. veal demi-glace

      Melt butter in saucepan, saute the shallots and garlic until tender. Add vinegar and reduce until almost gone. Add the red wine and rosemary, reduce by half. Add the demi-glace and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain. (This sauce may be made a day ahead and will taste better after the flavour has developed for a day. Refrigerate.)

      1/4 c. raisins
      1/4 c. white wine
      2 T. cocoa powder
      1/4 c. warm water
      sea salt and freshly ground pepper
      vegetable oil

      In a small bowl, soak raisins in wine for 2 to 3 hours. In another bowl, mix cocoa powder with warm water until smooth. Add water a little at a time to prevent lumping.

      Remove venison from marinade and wipe off excess oil. Season. Heat a small amount of oil in heavy frying pan and sear venison for 1 or 2 minutes per side, until browned but still quite rare.

      Venison cooked more than medium will be tough.

      Remove from pan and put on plates. Add raisin and wine to deglaze pan. Add cocoa mixture, whisking until smooth, then add the sauce. Simmer until hot. Spoon over venison and serve.

      1. I can only think of mole too, but a new coffee and chocolate restaurant just opened up in dc- is their menu. Some interesting combinations, including basil and chocolate mayo? And if there are coconut curry chocolate bars, I wonder if you couldn't do an Indian take off the complexity of mole sauce as well?

        1. I recently enjoyed a dish of cocoa pappardelle with a wild boar ragu. I am pretty sure that the ragu contained cocoa, as well.

          1. Local chocolatier at our farmers market makes chocolate dipped ridged potato chips- they are a great sweet & salty snack!