Whether you’re planning a decadent dinner party or a seriously sumptuous diner a deux, don’t plan your menu until you’ve perused Paul a. Young’s chocolate-laced recipes. From cacao-infused toasted sandwiches to a tempting tart with a swavoury edge, this is a feast that’s guaranteed to drive any chocoholic completely cocoa-loco.
Chocolate, cheese & anchovy toasties
Feel free to pimp this up by using different cheeses, or even adding chilli for a spicy kick. Alternatively, top individual slices of bread and pop under a hot grill until golden and bubbling.
- 4 slices good-quality thick sliced white bread
- 20g soft salted butter
- 80g 70-75% cocoa solids dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 tin anchovy fillets (salted or in oil)
- 150g unpasteurised (or very mature) cheddar, grated
- 25g parmesan, grated
- freshly ground black pepper
- a little melted butter, for brushing
- Preheat a large griddle pan. Meanwhile, butter the bread right to the edges.
- Cover the bread slices evenly with the chopped chocolate, then lay two anchovy fillets in a cross on to each slice.
- Cover each slice with an even amount of the two cheeses, grind over some pepper, and sandwich with another slice of bread.
- Brush both sides with the melted butter, then add to the pan and grill on both sides, pressing down, until the chocolate and cheese have melted. Cut each sandwich in half, and serve immediately.
Venezuelan chocolate chilli chicken
There are very many versions of chocolate chilli chicken, but I chose this one as it’s fantastically quick and easy to make. I can’t say it’s authentic, but it does have the wow-factor, and the Venezuelan chocolate adds a deep rich glossy finish and flavour.
- 1 tbsp light olive oil
- 4 banana shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 organic, free-range chicken thighs
- 4 organic, free-range chicken drumsticks
- 3 oranges, juice and zest
- 3 fresh red chillies, finely diced
- 2 tsp dried mulato chillies (or any other mild chillies)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
- 150g Venezuelan dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- large handful coriander leaves, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
- Add the olive oil to a lidded casserole dish, then add the shallots and garlic and sauté until softened.
- Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides, then add the orange juice and zest, chillies, coriander seeds, tomatoes and sugar, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Cover the dish, and transfer to the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, lift out the chicken and stir the chocolate into the remaining sauce.
- Serve with the sauce smothered over the chicken, scattered with lots of chopped or torn coriander leaves.
Sea-salted chocolate and pecan tart
This is definitely one for a special dinner party. With its sophisticated, sweet chocolate pastry crust, unctuous ganache filling, and caramelised salted pecans, this tart will stop all conversation for all the right reasons. It’s perfect with a glass of Banyuls or Maury.
For the crust:
- 175g butter
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 35ml water
- 250g plain flour
- 20g cocoa powder
For the filling:
- 200g Madagascan 64% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 200ml double (or whipping) cream
- 200g light muscovado sugar
- 10g Maldon sea salt
For the topping:
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 tsp Maldon sea salt
- 100g pecan halves
- For the topping, set a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, gradually mixing until you have a golden liquid caramel. Add the salt, mix well, then pour in the pecans, mixing thoroughly. Quickly pour the mixture onto a sheet of parchment sheet and spread out with a spatula.
- Set aside to cool thoroughly, then break or chop up into shards or chunky pieces. Store in an airtight container until required.
- For the crust, lightly grease a 24cm, 2 ½cm-deep tart ring.
- Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Alternatively, use a food processor.
- Add the egg yolks and water, and mix well until all the liquid has been incorporated. Gradually add the flour and cocoa powder and mix to form a dough.
- Wrap the pastry in foil or clingfilm, flatten with your hand, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Sprinkle a work surface with flour, and roll out the pastry until it is about 5cm bigger than the tart ring.
- Carefully line the ring, pushing the pastry well into the bottom edges and folding the excess over the top. Trim off the excess, then refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Meanwhile, line the tart with a sheet of parchment paper, then fill with baking beans, raw rice or lentils, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the beans, rice or lentils, then bake for a further 5- 8 minutes, until the base is dry. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- For the filling, put all the ingredients in a glass or metal mixing bowl and place over a pan of very hot water. Allow them to melt, stirring occasionally, until glossy and thick.
- Pour into the cold baked crust, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Top the tart with pieces of the salted pecan caramel, and serve.
TIP: For perfect, restaurant-standard slices, cut the tart with a hot, wet knife.
- Recipes extracted from Paul a. Young’s cookbooks ‘Adventures with Chocolate’ (photography by Anders Schønnemann, Kyle Books, RRP £14.99); and ‘Sensational Chocolate‘ (photography by Lisa Linder, Clearview Books, RRP £20).