Was there a time as a child that you imagined chocolate at every meal? In every dish? Life being a veritable candy land? For the next three posts I’ll share the dishes from our Lammas feast, each showcasing a different dark chocolate ingredient – cocoa, 72%, and 85%.
For celebration meals I ask the guest of honor to pick an ingredient they’d like to be in each course of the meal. The purpose is tri-fold: the celebrant receives a unique meal, I get a challenge, and we don’t get stuck in a rut.
For Lammas the boys (really, they are young men, but at half my age I’m prone to call them boys) chose chocolate. This spring one gave me an autographed copy of British chocolatier Paul Young’s book “Adventures with Chocolate.” If you can find this book on the internet and have it shipped here to the US it will be more than worth your effort.
A complete 180 degrees from Caesar salad, this dressing is sweet, tangy, dark and purely surprising. Be sure to use a real balsamic vinegar, not a cheap caramelized imitation, not only will it taste poor, it will probably be contaminated with gluten.
Perhaps this dressing will intrigue vegetable-indifferent kids to enjoy salads?
Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette
Converted from Paul Young’s “Adventures with Chocolate”
2 ¼ oz balsamic vinegar
1 oz light brown sugar
.6 oz 85% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Place the vinegar and sugar in a glass measuring cup, heat in microwave to a scant simmer, just starting to bubble. Don’t boil it! Whisk until the sugar dissolves, add the chocolate, again whisking until emulsified.
Cool slightly, add extra-virgin olive oil at two parts vinegar mix to one part olive oil, or one to one if you want a lighter dressing. Shake or whisk until emulsified. This will a dark, glossy dressing. It doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge, but if you do the chocolate will solidify and need rewarming in the microwave or in a sunny spot.
If you can find some late season strawberries at the farmer’s market, try them dipped in a bit of this dressing.
I used Bolivian extra dark eco bar for this batch. If you don’t have 85% on hand use ½ oz of 100% baking chocolate and increase the sugar by ½ a tsp. Using a lighter chocolate will make this dressing unbearably sweet and lose the rich under note that good dark chocolate provides.