Chocolate is deeply embedded into Saint Lucia’s culinary culture. It’s said that ancient Aztecs and Mayas were the first to grow cacao, touted as “The Food of the Gods“; however, when Spaniard explorers went to Mesoamerica they brought the cacao back to Spain, where it spread through Europe.
The British held control over Saint Lucia for different periods of time throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, bringing with them cacao in 1660. Saint Lucia’s hot yet wet climate paired with its soil rich in nutrients allowed the cacao to prosper, and today you’ll find chocolate plantations all over the island.
While there’s really no bad time to savor chocolate, Halloween is especially perfect. Chocoholics seeking a cocoa-infused menu for this year’s holiday will be inspired by recipes that incorporate chocolate into both sweet and savory dishes. Saint Lucian-born Chef Nina Compton, also a “Top Chef New Orleans” alum, has created a menu of chocolate recipes that are not only fun and delicious, but highlight Saint Lucia’s most notable food.
Says Chef Compton, “Cacao has been cultivated on Saint Lucia for hundreds of years. It is one of the island’s most notable foods and it’s extraordinarily versatile. Saint Lucians use the spice in everything from cocoa tea for breakfast, to a rub for fish and meats. I love stumbling upon customary dishes that feature new flavors and locally grown ingredients. It’s a melding of tradition and exploration.”
Cocoa Tea Martini
1 cup of water
½ cup of grated cocoa (from cocoa stick)
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of milk
Sugar to sweeten (optional)
1 cup Chairman’s Reserve
1 tsp chili powder
Method: In pot, bring water, grated cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla, to a boil. Boil for approximately 3 minutes. Add milk, chili powder, and sugar. Strain and chill. In a shaker, combine cocoa mixture, rum, and ice, shake and pour into a chilled glass. Top with shaved chocolate.
Photo courtesy of Ilja Generalov via Shutterstock
Pumpkin Arancini & Cocoa Nib Aioli
1 cup Arborio Rice
1 quart white chicken stock
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup diced pumpkin, sautéed
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/8 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Method: Sweat the onion in the olive oil until translucent, add rice and gently stir to coat the grains, keep stirring for about one minute to toast the grains. Add wine and reduce heat, add 1/3 quart of stock, stir until most of the liquid is absorbed, repeat the process until the rice is cooked through, season with salt, remove from heat, add pumpkin and cheese, and season. Spread on a lined sheet. Cool. Once cool, mold mixture into 1.5 tablespoon-sized balls. Set up the standard breading procedure in bowls (flour, beaten egg with milk, crumbs). Dredge each arancini ball in flour to evenly coat all sides. Tap off excess flour, roll in egg wash, roll in panko bread crumbs, covering it completely. Refrigerate until ready to fry.
Cocoa Nib Aoili
1/8 cup cocoa nibs finely chopped
1 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1/2 bunch chives
Method: Combine all the ingredients and put aside.
Chocolate BBQ Meat Balls
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 ½ cups ketchup
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup brewed coffee
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. cayenne
Method: Melt butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions; cook until soft, 4–6 minutes. Stir in chocolate, ketchup, brown sugar, coffee, honey, vinegar, cocoa powder, Worcestershire, mustard, chili powder, salt, pepper, coriander, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 onion, minced
4 tbsp. milk
1 garlic clove, microplaned
1 oz. bread
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
Method: Soak bread in the milk until almost falling apart. Mix all ingredients. Season with salt. Fry meatballs. Toss in BBQ sauce. Serve with side of plain yogurt.
Photo courtesy of Shebeko via Shutterstock
Cocoa Dusted Tuna Tataki In Mango Emulsion
2 cups ripe mango, diced
¼ cup lemon juice
Olive oil, as needed
Method: Puree mango and lemon juice. Emulsify with olive oil, strain, put mixture aside.
Pickled Mango Gremolata
1 small green mango, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/8 cup champagne vinegar
½ cup parsley, chopped
Zest of one lemon
Olive oil, as needed
Method: Heat vinegar, add garlic. Pour mixture over diced mango. Strain, put aside.
2 green plantains, peeled
Method: Slice plantains thin, fry until golden brown. Season with salt.
1 lb sushi grade tuna center cut
1 cup cocoa
Method: Dust the tuna in the cocoa and sear in a hot pan on all sides. Slice paper thin.
To assemble: Place one piece tuna on plantain chip. Top with pickled mango gremolata and mango emulsion.
Spiced Chocolate Soup With Foie Gras & Baby Vegetables
Spiced Chocolate Soup
1 Ancho Chile
2 medium plum tomatoes, cored
2 white onions, julienned
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 bunch thyme
1/2 bunch rosemary
1 cup white wine
1 cup celery, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 qt. chicken stock
1 oz. cocoa powder
Method: Sweat onions. Add garlic, celery, herbs, spices, and tomatoes. Season with salt, simmer for 5 minutes. Add wine, simmer for 5 minutes. Add cocoa powder and stock. Simmer vegetables until soft. Puree until smooth; strain through a chinois.
6 baby heirloom tomatoes, blanched with skin pulled back
1 tbsp. chopped oregano
1 candy beet, sliced paper thin
1 baby radish, sliced paper thin
6 pcs baby radishes, confit
6 pcs sugar snap peas, blanched and split
2 pcs pumpernickel, sliced, toasted, ground, and retoasted
2 rainbow baby carrots, confit
Method: Combine ingredients.
1 lobe grade B foie gras
4 tbsp. cognac
4 tsp. heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Method: Temper foie gras. Devein. Season with cognac, salt, and pepper. Marinate overnight. In food processor fitted with a metal blade, puree foie gras until smooth. Add cream; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into cryovac bag and seal. Blanch in hot water for 20 seconds. Strain through a tami sieve. Season; quenelle when ready to serve.
Photo courtesy of Dan Kosmayer via Shutterstock
Cocoa Braised Shortribs, Polenta & Baby Vegetables
2 oz. lardons — pork fat (strips or cubes) or pancetta batons
8 4-oz. boneless short ribs (marinated in 4 cups of red wine and garlic overnight)
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 cup cognac
2 bottles red wine
2 qt. brown chicken stock
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs thyme
1 cup tomato paste
8 pcs button mushrooms trimmed and halved
8 cipollini onions or pearl onions, trimmed and peeled
Method: In large chef’s pan or dutch oven, fry lardons over medium heat until fat has rendered (but not until it’s crisp). Transfer lardons to bowl with slotted spoon. Generously salt and pepper short ribs; place in hot pan, skin side down. Leave undisturbed for 6-7 minutes or until skin is golden brown. Flip, allowing second side to brown lightly. Transfer short ribs to bowl containing lardons. Sauté chopped onion, celery, and garlic, until soft, scrapping fond off bottom of pan. Add tomato paste, red wine, and chocolate, cook on low for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, ribs, mushrooms, onions, and herbs. Cover and finish on low heat or in oven at 325°.
80 oz. milk
96 oz. cream
1 lb. Bramata Polenta
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter
Method: Heat the milk and cream together, season with salt. When hot, add polenta and stir until thick. Reduce heat, cook for 3 hours stirring periodically. Remove from heat. Finish with parmesan and butter.
Pumpkin Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce & Chocolate Crumble
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup high-quality cocoa powder (such as Vahlrona or Callebaut)
1/4 cup clover honey
1/4 cup granulated cane sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pure coconut extract
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup raw whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coconut chips, coarsely chopped
Method: Adjust baking rack to the middle rack. Preheat oven to 275°. Brush half of a sheet pan with coconut oil. In a small saucepan, heat remaining coconut oil over medium heat. Whisk in cocoa powder, honey, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly until smooth and sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in coconut and vanilla extracts. In separate bowl, combine oats, almonds, and coconut chips. Add cocoa mixture to oat mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined. Transfer mixture to sheet pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and let sit in the warm oven for 30 minutes longer. Remove to a baking rack and let cool.
3 cups whole milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3/4 cup water
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. dark rum
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
Method: In small bowl, whisk ½ cup milk and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside. In small saucepan, heat remaining milk over medium heat until mixture begins to simmer. Set aside. In heavy saucepan, combine sugar and water.
To make the caramel stir the sugar and water together in a heavy saucepan set over medium heat until all the sugar dissolves. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high, cook without stirring until mixture reaches between 210-215°.
In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk 5 large egg yolks. Gradually add in hot milk, whisking continuously. Add cornstarch mixture, continue whisking. Slowly add caramel. Return mixture to saucepan, cook over medium heat, whisking until thick and temperature reached 175° (approx. 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat. Whisk in the butter, rum, salt and pumpkin puree. Pour into heat-proof pitcher. Pour 1/2 cup of the budino into jars. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 3-5 hours.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Extra coarse sea salt
Method: Place cream in a small pitcher. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan, add sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Once sugar melts, whisk in individual pieces of butter until each piece melts. Add vanilla cream mixture slowly. Whisk until smooth. Add salt, whisking to combine. Strain into a heatproof bowl; let cool slightly. Spoon 2 tbsp. caramel sauce over each budino. Sprinkle with chocolate crumble.
Which of these chocolate recipes do you think you’ll try this Halloween? Please share in the comments below.
Top Photo courtesy of Shaiith via Shutterstock.