DO we really need an excuse to eat chocolate? If you think that we do, then Valentine’s day is your day! There has been a noticeable increase in the use of cocoa and chocolate in the culinary world, from meat marinades to hard candy and all the delicious bakery goodies that fall in-between like pastries, cakes, desserts and even breads.
I have discovered a renewed excitement when I bake something chocolate, because I now bake with our local Trini cocoa and chocolate.
We have many cocoa estates on our island from Brasso Seco, Sangre Grande to San Antonio, Rancho Quemado and Tobago. These estates have been producing world- class cocoa beans for years. Our Trinitario beans are purchased by leading chocolate houses in Europe to produce some of the world’s most exquisite chocolate. The Gran Couva and Tortuga area possess some of the richest soils nicknamed ‘black gold which are perfect for high quality cocoa production.
These cocoa farms turn their beans over to the local chocolate makers who in turn produce world-class cocoa and chocolates. Names such as Trinidad Fine Chocolate, Cocobel, Sun Eaters, Gran Couva, or Tobago Estate (to mention a few) no longer bring quizzical expressions but expressions of pure joy. Our chocolate makers are packaging cocoa powder, chocolate bars, cocoa nibs, chocolate chips and an array of cosmetic products.
Cooking and baking with local chocolate and cocoa will intensify the chocolate flavour and bring extra richness, spiciness and deliciousness your dish.
So, support local, there will be no turning back.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Cocoa spiced rub
1⁄3 cup unsweetened local cocoa powder
½ cup brown sugar
3 tbs chilli powder
2 tbs salt
2 tbs onion flakes
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs dried mustard
2 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
3 lbs chicken pieces or ribs.
Mix cocoa, sugar, and spices together in a bowl. Rub meat generously with spice mixture and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
Heat oven to 375°. Place in a shallow roasting pan; bake until tender, about 40 minutes.
Serves 4 to 6
Double chocolate banana bread with tonka
Adding tahini to this bread makes it extra moist and rich.
2 large, over ripened bananas
½ cup sesame seed paste, Tahini
¼ cup coconut oil
1 large egg
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated tonka bean
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 350F
Line an 8x4 loaf tin with parchment paper.
Mash bananas and beat in Tahini with an electric hand mixer, add oil, egg and sugar and beat until light.
Combine flour with cocoa, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and tonka.
Stir this into the banana mixture, when well incorporated stir in chocolate chips.
Pour into loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes until cooked.
Makes 1 loaf
Happy valentines beet and chocolate cake
8 ozs, roasted beets, cooled and peeled
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup non-sweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1½ cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350F
Puree the beets in a food processor, strain and reserve the juice and the beet puree separately.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda.
Beat the eggs until light and fluffy add sugar and vanilla and beat well.
Add the beets and beat for a few seconds and add the oil and beat for a further minute.
Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and fold all the ingredients together.
Have grease and lined a 9-inch cake tin.
Pour mixture into tin and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
Cool and frost with Red beet glaze.
Makes 1- 9-inch cake
Red beet glaze
¼ cup butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
Reserved beet juice
Cream the butter and add the icing sugar.
Add a small amount of the beet juice to bring the mixture to a spreadable consistency.
Frosts 1-9inch cake
Red velvet cupcakes
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups gran sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbs cocoa powder, unsweetened
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened yogurt or buttermilk
2 tbs red food colouring
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease and line 2 8-inch layer cake pans or line 24 cupcake pans with liners
In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar. Baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
Combine oil, with yoghurt and colouring and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and stir,
Beat eggs and add last. Stir well.
Spoon into cupcake tins or cake pans.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes for cupcakes, 35 minutes or layer cakes
Frost with cream cheese frosting.
Makes 2 cakes or 24 cupcakes.
Cream cheese frosting
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup butter
2½ cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tbs milk or sour cream
Cream butter with icing sugar until creamy, add cream cheese and stir to a creamy consistency, add a few drops of milk at a time if needed to bring batter to a spreadable consistency.
Frost cake. Will frost and fill 2 nine inch round cakes or one 9- inch by 13- inch cake, or 24 cupcakes.
Wendy’s Cooking Classes
Learn to Cook, February 16 & 23,