By Massimo de Francesca

I’ll admit it: I love chocolate! I might even be a bit of a chocoholic.

For all those who can relate, I’m sharing some tips on how to elevate your chocolate-eating experiences.

  1. Choose quality, but even more importantly, ethically produced chocolate. Read the label and look out for the fair trade symbol to confirm that the product meets the internationally agreed upon social, environmental and economic standards.

  2. Pay attention to texture, colour and smell. If you pick dark chocolate that is 70% cacao, you’ll notice that it has a more bold and bitter taste. It is important to note that cacao percentage is vital in indicating taste and quality. The number associated with this identifies the amount of actual cacao bean in relation to the other ingredients.

  3. Notice the flavour profile. Chocolate is like wine and other fine foods in that the flavours differ depending on how it is made, where it is made and who makes it. Its taste also differs depending on an individual's palate. Countries around the world that are known to produce some of the best chocolate include Belgium, Switzerland, Ecuador, Italy and Brazil. Each country may add a different element of flavour, so you may notice that a chocolate from Brazil is fruity, while one from Ecuador has tasting notes that are earthy.

  4. Store chocolate in an airtight container away from heat in a cool place, but not the refrigerator.

Here's a recipe for adding chocolate to savoury dishes. Why wait for dessert when you can have chocolate with the main course? Try this sauce over grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted eggplant or as a finish on roasted duck, grilled lamb chops or braised wild game.

Savoury Spiced Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
• 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
• 3 teaspoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons brewed espresso coffee
• ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
• ¼ teaspoon onion powder
• ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
• ½ teaspoon mild chili powder
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
• warm water as needed

Method:

  1. Set up a double boiler and bring temperature to simmer. In a medium steel bowl, add in chocolate and place on top of the boiling pot. Stir until melted.

  2. Take off heat and add all other ingredients. Mix well.

  3. If necessary, add some warm water, 2 tablespoons at a time, to ensure chocolate smooths out.

  4. Once your desired level of sauce consistency is achieved, keep warm.

  5. Enjoy it as dip or simply pour over suggested food items.

Massimo De Francesca is the executive chef at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

This article was originally published in February’s print edition of Camana Bay Times, with the headline “Enjoying Chocolate.”