Cocoa tinted glasses | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 22, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 22, 2015


Cocoa tinted glasses

Like most of us, I too have a lot of fond memories tied to chocolate - from my father buying me Mars at the Titas store in Lalmatia, fighting with siblings over whether we love or hate Mimi chocolate, to daydreaming about the chocolate river in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, running to Dolce Vita after school for a scoop of chocolate ice-cream, and of course that chocolate binge after a gruesome day.

I read somewhere “Your favourite chocolate defines your time, or so you think. Some bridge the decades and the generations.  They're as familiar to your granny as they are to you.”

This got me wondering, do children still get a box of Quality Street when someone from England comes to visit?

Chocolate has a long history; it has been around for over 2000 years. The Mayans and the Aztecs believed it had magical properties.

Hernando Cortes, the Spanish explorer, described the drink as 'a bitter drink for pigs' after tasting the Aztec chocolate drink. This then travelled to Spain, got a splash of cane sugar mixed into it and - Voila! - became the fashionable drink to the rich Europeans of the 17th century.  

The Europeans believed it had medicinal, plus aphrodisiac properties (rumored that Casanova was especially fond of the stuff).  In the 1700s chocolate started to be mass produced, the chocolate bar was first created in 1847 and by 1868 Nestle hit the market with milk chocolate (my favorite!).

The original chocolate drink was made with ground up chocolate, corn flour and flavoured with vanilla, honey or chillies. Remember the scene from the movie Chocolat where Juliette Binoche is seen to put a pinch of chili powder in the chocolate drink?  This hot chocolate is going to be as thick as that.
(Serves 2)
(4 oz.) dark chocolate, shaved
1½  cups milk
1 tbsp sugar (add more if you like)
3/4 tbsp corn starch
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp sea salt
Whipped cream, optional
Place shaved chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and add two tablespoons milk and vanilla extract. Use a wooden spoon to stir chocolate as it begins to melt. Slowly add remaining milk and stir until completely smooth. Add in sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, and sea salt, and stir until everything is dissolved and combined. Once mixture boils, let it cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until thickened enough that it coats the back of your spoon. Pour into two mugs (top with whipped cream if desired) and serve immediately.

Chocolate wonton
This is supposed to be a very quick recipe. Most of the things have to be store bought. Just assemble, fry and eat! Choose your favourite type of chocolate and look for the 4-ounce size chocolate bars. The bars are often pre-cut into the perfect size squares for filling the wontons.
24 wonton wrappers
1 large banana
12 (1½-inch) chocolate squares
1 large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil, for frying
Store-bought salted caramel sauce, for serving
Organise 12 wonton wrappers on a table. Cut the banana into 12 (¼-inch) slices then place one chocolate square topped with one slice of banana in the centre of each wonton wrapper. Using a brush or your fingers, brush the egg around the edges of the wonton wrappers then lay a second wrapper atop the chocolate and banana. Firmly press the edges together so the wontons are properly sealed.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Add at least 3 inches of oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot.

Heat the oil to know when the oil is ready to fry. Place the chopstick/skewer in the middle of the pot. If it starts to make bubbles around the stick immediately, it is ready for frying.

Carefully add 2 to 3 poppers to the hot oil and fry them for about two minutes, flipping as needed, until they're golden brown.

Immediately transfer the wontons to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat the frying with the remaining poppers, allowing the oil to return to 180ºC between each batch.

Serve the wontons warm alongside caramel sauce for dipping.

1⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
3 tbsp chilli powder
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp onion paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried mustard
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
2 racks (3 lb.) beef baby back ribs
Mix cocoa, sugar, and spices together in a bowl. Rub ribs generously with spice mixture, and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.
About two hours before you plan to serve the ribs, remove them from the refrigerator and allow the ribs come to room temperature. Heat oven to 195°C. Place ribs in a shallow roasting pan; bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Increase oven to 250° and transfer ribs to a baking sheet with a wire rack; bake curved side up and flipping once, until browned, 15–20 minutes more. Cut ribs into individual bones to serve.

(Serves 6-8)
3 cups olive oil
7½ cups eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 large onion, chopped
1 bunch celery, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tbsp tomato paste, thinned with 1⁄4 cup water
1 cup crushed, canned tomatoes
10 green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup vinegar
1⁄2 cup golden raisins
1⁄4 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp finely grated unsweetened chocolate
1⁄2 cup finely shredded basil
2 tbsp almonds
Heat oil in a 12 inches fry pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant and fry, tossing occasionally, until browned, 3–4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to a large bowl; set aside. Pour off all but 1⁄4 cup oil, and reserve for another use. Return pan to heat, add onions and celery, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until caramelised and almost evaporated, 1–2 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Stir in olives, vinegar, raisins, capers, sugar, and chocolate, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to bowl with eggplant, along with basil and pine nuts, and mix together. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Nuts, chocolate, herbs, and spices all impart colour to this mole, but it's the charring of the stems and seeds of the chillies that really gives it the dark hue. One of the seven classic moles of Oaxaca, Mexico, this sauce is typically served over chicken.
14 dried hathazari chillies, washed
5 dried red chillies, washed
7 green big sweet chillies, charred on fire and washed
4 tbsp oil
One 6" square dry bread
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
2 whole cloves
2½  tsp cinnamon
1 tsp anise
3 black peppercorns
4 whole allspice
1 large green (unripe) banana
2 prunes, pitted (optional)
4 tbsp bittersweet chocolate, melted
4 tbsp almonds
4 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted until golden
1/3 cup raisins
1 bay leaf
Stem, seed, and de-vein chillies, reserving everything. Sear stems, seeds, and ribs in a thick fry pan over high heat until charred black. (Don't worry, this is a secret of real mole, but avoid breathing smoke or getting it in your eyes.) Cool, then rinse in a fine strainer to wash out bitterness and white ashes. Set aside. Instead of washing I also sometimes cover the hot chillies with a cold wet wash cloth, and leave aside for 10 minutes, afterwards when you rub the skin of the chillies with the cloth the bitterness and white ash will just come off.

In the same pan, heat two tbsp of the oil and brown bread on both sides. Remove from pan. Add 1 tbsp of the remaining oil, and garlic and onions; cook until tender and golden.

Soak chillies in three cups very hot water until soft. Meanwhile, mix cloves, cinnamon, anise, peppercorns, and allspice. Using a spice mill or mortar and pestle, grind the spices very finely. Combine charred stems, seeds, ribs, chillies (reserve soaking water), garlic, onions, ground spices, banana, prunes, chocolate, almonds, sesame seeds, raisins, bread, and bay leaf. Using the food grinder attachment to an electric mixer or a blender, grind in small batches until they are very smooth. Use soaking water as needed to process the mole into a thick paste.

Put paste in non-stick pan brushed with remaining 1 tbsp oil. Fry paste until thick, fragrant, and slightly golden on all surfaces, about 20 minutes. It should be a dense, dry, toasty-looking smooth paste. Cool, then refrigerate or freeze until needed. Thin with diluted chicken stock to a sauce consistency. Serve with roasted chicken.

Photo: Collected


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