Now, if your mind has suddenly taken you to thinking of simple samples of fine chocolate and sweet dishes gingerly laid out for the taster’s enjoyment, STOP. Instead, imagine a party centered on every manifestation of chocolate imaginable. Savory, salty and sweet all prepared with skill by a hostess so passionate about chocolate and delightful to know and speak to that you'd never want to leave.
Geneviéve Leloup's culinary education started in one of the best schools possible: her Mother's kitchen. The daughter of a masterful cook and professional baker, Geneviéve would spend as much time as possible learning the tricks of the trade. As an avid traveler and student of all things art, Geneviéve would later collect knowledge and recipes through friends she's made around the world. She added these recipes to a book, which serves as collection of recipes, friends and culinary memories of her life, which she still uses to this day. Today, Geneviéve spends more time developing her own recipes from the lessons she has learned, and the results are spectacular.
Upon entering the party, I was overtaken by an aromatic wave of all things chocolate. What was once a kitchen had been transformed into an exhibit of artful, edible delicacies. A chocolate olive tapenade wafted aromas of the Mediterranean into the air. On the stove, the Cincinnati Chili simmered away and assaulted my senses with smells of Christmas and spice. All throughout the apartment, in every corner and on every table, I found unique and exciting things to eat, each and every one of them made in some part with chocolate. It was an experience that each guest will always remember. The best part? I convinced Genevieve to share both her favorite and my favorite recipes of the evening with you.
What's Genevieve's favorite dish? Goat cheese with cocoa nibs, garlic, honey and ginger.
By mixing the bitter, dark crushed cocoa nibs with the soft palate coating goat cheese, you find a push and pull of texture and depth that can be enjoyed over and over again. The sweet hint of honey and ginger syrup adds a second layer of flavor that cuts the slightly dry feel of the cheese and cocoa nibs and is balanced by the garlic and herbs which work to pull you back to reality. It's a heavenly flavor and texture combination that must be tasted to truly understand.
4 Tbls. raw cacao beans
11 oz. log of goat cheese
½ clove of garlic (fine mince)
Herbes de Provence (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
1Tbsp liquid honey
1Tbsp ginger syrup (out of a bottle of preserved ginger)
Crush about 4Tbsp raw cacao beans to make the cacao nibs. (An easy trick is to use a coffee grinder.)
Put the goat cheese into a bowl, soften it and mix in the cacao nibs. Add the garlic, some Herbes de Provence, and pepper (to taste).
Add the honey and ginger syrup, and mix well. Once combined, reshape into a log.
Because the flavors will continue to emerge over time, it is best to make it a day ahead.
When serving, sprinkle the log with some finely crushed cacao nibs or dust with cacao powder.
Serve with thin slices of baguette.
What was my favorite dish? Geneviève's Cincinnati Chili.
As difficult as the choice was to make, I found myself going back to Genevieve's Cincinnati Chili again and again. This isn’t anything like your average chili. It’s autumnal in a way and reminds me of all the things I love about fall and the holidays. The allspice and cinnamon mixed with the cocoa give it a depth of flavor that you only experience when eating the finest dark chocolate. The Chipotle takes on a spicy sweetness that is tantalizing on the palate and leaves behind a pleasant amount of heat on the finish. Each bite is just as good as the first and the texture is amazing. As I tested this recipe, I found that the most difficult thing about it was stopping myself from eating it right then and there.
The craziest part about this recipe is how insanely simple it is to make, yet how sinfully delicious it is to eat. When you read it, you may be tempted to add conventional chili preparations, but I urge you to fight that temptation and try it just as it is. Make sure to make this a day in advance to let the flavors truly come together over night.
2 pounds lean raw ground beef
2 large onions small dice
2 (6oz.) cans tomato paste
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper (The chili is not too hot but you can cut this in half, if you want less heat.)
3 Tbls. chili powder
½ tsp. Chipotle powder
2-½ tsp salt
2 tsp ground allspice
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
3 Bay leaves
2 ½ Tbls Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
40 grams 70% dark chocolate (chopped)
2 Tbls. Fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
Have all of your ingredients measured out.
In a large saucepot over medium high heat, add the water, ground beef and onions. With a spoon, break up the beef as the water comes up to a boil. It’s important for the beef to be completely broken up.
Once the mixture comes to a boil, add all the ingredients from the second addition, stir to combine completely and return the pot to a boil. Once it returns to a boil, reduce to a simmer (uncovered) and set your timer for 2 ½ hours.
Throughout this time, make sure to stir the mixture every 15 to 20 minutes. Assure that the chili is not sticking to the bottom of the pan, and if it is, consider lowering the burner.
When there is a half hour left on the timer, take a small pot and fill 1/3 with water. Place a metal bowl over the pot and turn the flame under this pot to the lowest setting (hence creating a double boiler). Be careful, as the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.
When there is about 15 minutes left on the timer, add the chopped 70% chocolate to the bowl. Stir constantly and keep the chocolate from the sides or it may burn. Once the chocolate has melted completely, remove the bowl from the pot and place to the side.
Turn off the flame under the chili, and pour the melted chocolate into the pot. Stir to combine. Taste the chili and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
To plate, prepare a plate with sour cream and tortilla chips. Ladle a healthy dose of chili onto the plate and garnish with your choice of chopped parsley or cilantro. Clean the rims of your plates with a warm moist towel and serve.
Need wine pairings for your Cincinnati Chili? I tested this recipe with a group of tasters and the two wines below were easily up to the challenge.
A Mano Primitivo, Prima Mano 2006 – This wine shows a dark purple color with aromas of blueberry, crushed fall leaves, animal musk and caramel rising from the glass. On the palate, it shows a full body with an excess fruit but excellent acidity which keeps this from ever being overwhelming. Cherry, prune and a long finish is present with raisin and mulling spices. This primitivo stood tall next to the Cincinnati Chili, as its rich fruit accentuated the allspice and cinnamon while providing a finish rich enough to handle the residual heat of the chipotle and cayenne pepper.
Pure Love, Layer Cake Shiraz 2008 – The nose is fresh and bright with sweet brambly berries, cedar and a hint of forest floor. On the palate, you find rich raspberry jam, cinnamon and vanilla with a finish that hints at milk chocolate. With all of these sweet and rich descriptors you’d expect this wine to be overdone, but the true beauty of it is that it comes off as refreshing and satisfying.
Savory Cream Cheese Bites
Geneviéve Leloup is a designer, graphic artist, children's book illustrator, musician, amateur chef, and lover of all things chocolate!
For more information you can see her website HERE!
For more information you can see her website HERE!