My dad, distressingly, does not like chocolate. Actually, that is not true. He likes chocolate, but not chocolate in stuff. He won’t touch chocolate cake, he shuns chocolate mousses, and he is actively repulsed by chocolate ice-cream. It is a perplexing trait, considering I love the stuff (he has refused to take a paternity test). My bafflement has prompted me to find as many ways as possible of hiding chocolate in dishes, in the hope that he will be able to stomach one of them.
The most important thing to note before commencing is that, with few exceptions, these recipes call for dark chocolate – 70% cocoa solids or up. If you were to, say, lob a Galaxy bar into your dinner, you would end up with a sickly, too-sweet mess. With that out of the way, let’s start with mole. The Mexican chilli sauce is so overwhelming – coming in waves of smokiness, bitterness and sweetness – that chocolate haters will be too confused to identify all the ingredients. David Lebovitz has a recipe for chicken with mole that isn’t very chocolatey at all.
While we are on the subject of spice, dark chocolate is often a great addition to hotter dishes, adding a touch of sweetness and mellowing the harshness of the peppers. These days, adding a little chocolate to a chilli is barely even controversial. Saveur’s triple-chocolate beef and bean chilli goes a step further than most, utilising chocolate, cocoa powder and chocolate stout, but you would never notice. Alternatively, you could just dip a jalapeño pepper in some chocolate, as the worryingly named Jalapeño Madness advocates.
Dark chocolate also tends to work well with red meat, adding an interesting complexity. Rosana McPhee’s recipe for steak in chocolate and coffee sauce comes in at the more cartoonishly macho end of the spectrum, but Taste of Game’s venison and chocolate casserole is less overt – and just the thing for when the evenings start drawing in.
So, we have covered chocolate for the chocolate sceptics. Well done us for re-educating those fools, but it is time to take a step up.
Paul A Young knows chocolate better than most. As such, if he says that making a millefeuille with four types of mushroom and a creamy chocolate sauce is not as grotesque as it sounds, it would be imprudent to doubt him. Similarly, The Food in My Beard’s recipe for chocolate-covered mac and cheese may strike you as an affront, but let it sit for a while: the idea of adding dark chocolate to the bacon and peppers in the dish starts to feel almost sensible. From there, you can just go all-out and coat bacon in chocolate, as spelled out by the Spruce Eats.
Next, a recipe that I will never share with my children: Food52’s tagliatelle al cioccolato, or chocolate pasta with mushrooms. Although the author swears that adding cocoa powder to pasta adds richness without sweetness, it would nevertheless be impossible to get my kids to revert to eating plain old non-chocolatey pasta again. If you are feeling really adventurous, Epicurous has a recipe for baked salmon in white chocolate jus.
If the chocolate-hater in your life has managed to eat all these without complaint, then it is time to move into the real danger zone: chocolate desserts. I would recommend starting off small, with a dip. You have two to choose from here. Gather for Bread has a cream cheese and chocolate chip dip, which, since it is basically cheesecake topping in a bowl, may do the trick. Joy Food Sunshine has a recipe for chocolate hummus.
Savory Tooth’s recipe for chocolate quinoa breakfast bowls requires cocoa powder, so it won’t be cloyingly sweet, and you can hide the chocolate under piles of fresh fruit.
I warn you now that the following recipe – Libaliano’s chocolate and parmesan cake – may sound like a waste of perfectly good chocolate and parmesan. However, the author makes a rational case for the combination. The parmesan acts as a salt substitute: “It is both salty and mild, with its cheesy taste close to the butter, but far from the chocolate,” she writes.
On the same note, Pardon Your French’s recipe for chocolate and honey mustard tart sounds like the pudding version of hot wing roulette, but dark chocolate and honey mustard really do go well together. The mustard here (included in the crust and the filling) intensifies the flavour of the chocolate.
You have come this far, so let’s finish with a chocolate assault. I have a feeling that I could force my dad to eat Nigella’s chocolate salami if push came to shove. This is partly because it is a gussied-up fridge cake with biscuits and nuts – and close enough to actual chocolate that it may not infuriate him. But it is also because it does look like a salami, which he will eat without a second thought.
Then there is Sugar Hero’s chocolate soup: a great big bowl of slightly thickened hot chocolate with some chopped-up cake in it. I will eat my portion and my dad’s. Try to stop me.