Sunday, January 1, 2012
"Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter! No, you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!” Remember that old candy bar commercial that suggested that only a collision could bring the two flavors together? It turns out they are an obvious pairing for countless confections and desserts. Chocoholics everywhere agree that a day without chocolate is a day without sunshine. Eating chocolate causes endocrine glands to secrete hormones that affect your feelings and behavior by actually making you happy. Research has found that chocolate eaten in moderation can even lower blood pressure. One T-shirt I agree with reads: “Emergency alert: If wearer of this shirt is found vacant, listless or depressed, administer chocolate immediately!”
Just like many other great products that are made right here in Oregon, chocolate has an impressive list of artisan chocolatiers. These items range from flavor-infused truffles and candies to cakes, cookies, drinking chocolate, baking essentials and many other specialty chocolate items. Euphoria Chocolate Company in Eugene, for example, makes European-style truffles that are infused with Oregon Pinot gris, Pinot noir and Cabernet.
Unsweetened chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Most chocolate that is eaten directly is a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat, and sugar making it ideal for creating candies and other confections. Although the bitter flavor of unsweetened chocolate is not so good to eat alone, it can be incorporated very successfully into savory dishes. It is best when used in combination with several other flavors allowing the chocolate to be a nuance rather than an overpowering flavor on the palate. In this ancho chile molè, I have used ancho and guajillo chiles, onion, garlic, tomatoes and spices with a subtle backdrop of cinnamon, raisins and chocolate to create a sauce that will make your taste buds sing. Instead of using the traditional Mexican chocolate, I add Oregon flair by using 98 percent bittersweet chocolate from Pegasus Gourmet Chocolates in Bend. For thirty-five years Susan and Kaz Moini ran a chocolate shop in Newport, Oregon called West Homemade Candies that was originally founded in 1892. They moved to Bend and started Pegasus eight years ago. All the chocolates are made on site, and they import their beans from South Africa to create their super high quality confections.
Serve the molè with this slow-roasted carne asada seasoned pork shoulder for a spectacular Mexican feast. This sauce also freezes well, so store half of the recipe in the freezer to use later over a simply grilled breast of chicken for a quick and delicious south-of-the-border meal.