Nothing says Valentine’s Day like chocolate. Most often, though, that chocolate is packaged up in a heart-shaped box, and it’s a gamble to try and pick out the ones with the filling you like and leave the rest behind.
This year, though, instead of a box ofchocolates, why not indulge your sweetheart’s sweet tooth with one of these offbeat chocolate treats selected by our editorial staff?
Chocolate-Dipped Bacon at Soda Jerks
The chocolate-dipped bacon at Soda Jerks comes in three iterations: On its own as a dessert; as a topping for hamburgers; and blended into a milkshake.
On its own, it’s off-putting at first because it’s served cold, but that’s how the chocolate and bacon are kept together. This way, though, you can appreciate the use of a darker chocolate that’s not cloyingly sweet.
The result is tasty, but messy.
For the burger, I opted for one of Soda Jerks’ pre-made creations: The PB&J, which stacks the chocolate-dipped bacon, along with peanut butter and strawberry jam, atop a half-pound beef patty and puts it all in between two Eggo waffles. The result is tasty, but messy. But the bacon is essential, lending a much-needed crunch and a richness to balance out the sweet, tart jam.
The milkshake is about what you’d expect. It’s sweet and chocolaty, but it is a bit jarring the first time a smoky, crunchy bit of bacon lands on your tongue. -Glenn Cook
The appearance of the Violet Chocolate Co.’s Honey Rosemary chocolate bar is as old-fashioned as it comes. It looks like the standard break-off-a-square-and-enjoy-it treat, but that’s not an indicator of what lies in wait.
The bar hits the palate with an initial punch of rosemary that quickly disappears into the creamy melt-in-your-mouth sensation of milk chocolate. That sensation is again transformed by the hint of honey, sweetening the deal for your taste buds.
But the biggest shocker comes in the aftermath of the rabid chocolate consumption that inevitably accompanies this treat – the rosemary flavour strikes back. Not only does it rush back, but it lingers. It stays with you as long as you resist the urge to wash the chocolate down with a drink, making this dessert a perfect after-dinner snack.
If nothing else, trust the judges of the International Chocolate Awards, the world competition where this bar took home the gold. The prize-winning bar is not only delicious, but a hometown source of pride as well. -Cory Haller
Grilled Beef Tenderloin With Red Wine Chocolate Sauce at Culina Mill Creek
Red wine and steak is a classic combination. So is red wine and chocolate. But when you put all three together, you get a fantastic combination of flavours. When the grilled beef tenderloin with red wine and chocolate sauce first arrives at the table at Culina Mill Creek, the sauce is difficult to find, as it’s buried under the steak, a mound of mashed potatoes wrapped in bacon, seasonal vegetables and a blue cheese cream.
Red wine and steak is a classic combination.
Once you find it underneath all that, it’s quite a treat. The flavour of the chocolate is subtle, but the texture mixes with the red wine to create a wonderful complement to the tenderloin. But the chocolate sauce is disguised in a bite that also includes the blue cheese cream, thanks to the latter sauce’s richness and slight pungency.
The accompanying mashed potatoes are, like most things, enhanced greatly by the addition of the bacon. And the veggies – in this case, roasted carrots, beets and kale – provide sweet and salty counters to the rich sauces. -G.C.
Sometimes a savoury dish can be made all the sweeter with the addition of chocolate, and there is no better example than the chicken mol at Acajutla. The complex flavours rising out of the thick chicken-smothering sauce makes the hidden-gem Latin American restaurant a must-visit.
The dish is simple enough: two perfectly moist roasted chicken thighs accompanied by a side of rice and two tortillas. But the magic happens when the ample portion of mol sauce – in this case, a mol poblano – coats every ounce of chicken with plenty to spare as a sauce for the rice.
The complexity derives from the tricks the sauce plays on your palate. Is it sweet? Is it savoury? Is it spicy? The answer is: All of the above.
The sauce is sweet to start as it hits the front of the tongue. This is where the delectable dark chocolate really shines through. But as you hit the next range of flavours – the tomato, cinnamon, onion and garlic – the thick sauce takes on a savoury world of its own, which nicely accompanies each bite of the tender chicken. A pleasant finish to the bite comes at the end as the peppers and chilies of the sauce round out with a spicy goodbye – one that provides a pleasant sting to the mouth. -C.H.