For the second year in a row, Scharffen Berger and TuttiFoodie are hosting the Chocolate Adventure Contest. You have a little over two weeks to put the finishing touches on your best chocolate recipe in one of three categories–beverage, sweet or savory that includes at least one “adventure” ingredient and Scharffen Berger® Chocolate: dark chocolate (mentioning exact cacao content anywhere from 62 to 99 percent), milk chocolate or cocoa.
This year’s adventure ingredients are: popping candy (unflavored or flavored), wattleseed, palm sugar, basil, mustard seeds, coriander, black sesame seeds, black or pink peppercorns, chili pepper (fresh or whole dried), coconut milk, kaffir lime leaf, matcha tea, mango, plantain, jicama, tapioca pearls (any size), tamarind (or tamarind paste), cacao nibs. Grand prize winners in each of the top three categories will win $5,000. There are also runner’s up prizes. Read all the rules and details before donning your apron.
I checked in with a couple of this year’s judges to get their best tips. First local chocolate guru and cookbook author, Alice Medrich:
What are your favorite trends in chocolate recipes? I like unexpected ingredient pairings that work so well that when you taste them you say “of course!” and “why didn’t I think of that.” Some of these are as subtle and simple as chocolate paired with extra virgin olive oil, salt and spices, or a hint of aged Parmesan in a chocolate nut wafer.
Where do you see the most potential for innovation in recipe development? I love that place where sweet and savory meet. I want to see (and create) more recipes that are imaginative without being forced or gimmicky: Deliciously New, but not so weird that you don’t want to taste them again and again. This involves being open to flavors affinities between ingredients that we don’t normally put together! The adventure contest-with its global and pop (literally!) culture ingredients and flavors is fertile ground for the wildly creative AND the intellectual cook. New flavor paradigms will emerge, and from them, new classic dishes. Because the contest involves home cooks, as well as professionals, we’ll see an acceleration of new ideas and new trends. It’s exciting.
And from the founder of the Tutti Foodie newsletter, Lisa Schiffman:
What are your favorite trends in chocolate recipes? I’ve got a few favorites. First: recipes that take a chance on something new, whether it’s a surprising ingredient or a new technique. Second: savory chocolate recipes. Historically, we’ve seen chocolate recipes that are laden with sugar-so much so, that the sugar often overwhelms the recipe. Creating something savory with chocolate seems to open new flavor vistas.
Where do you see the most potential for innovation in recipe development? In simple recipes with adventurous twists.
Here is one of the top recipes from last year’s contest to get you thinking outside the box:
Wasabi Pears In Deep Chocolate Pools Creator: Susan Scarborough, Florida Category: Dessert Servings: 4 Adventure Ingredient: Wasabi
Ingredients: 4 small pears, such as a good sized Seckel 4 cups Riesling wine 1 cup sugar 1 cup water 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 2 teaspoons wasabi paste 8 ounces Scharffen Berger® 70% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate 4 mint leaves or stems of lemon grass
Preparation: Peel pears closely, leaving the stems. Core from the bottom, leaving the pear whole, and slice bottom flat to make a stable base.
Place the wine, sugar, water, lemon juice, and half of the wasabi in a 2½-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and add the pears. Simmer until pears are just tender. Remove from heat and add the remaining wasabi.
Cool, remove from liquid, place pears on a plate and then cover. Chill in refrigerator.
When ready to serve, place chocolate in top of double boiler and melt over simmering water. Pour pools of chocolate on individual dessert plates, top with a pear. Insert stem of mint leaf near stem of pear, cross lemongrass stem on rim of plate for garnish if desired.
Presentation: If you have rectangular serving plates, use them and place the pear with mint leaves on one, with the stems of lemongrass crossed on the other.
If you’d like to melt the chocolate in this recipe without using a double boiler, try this method: just before you’re ready to serve the pears, heat a 1/3 cup of half and half in a small saucepan over low heat. Then add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is fully melted. You can then pour this mixture in pools on the individual dessert plates and top with a pear. — Chocolate Adventure Contest staff