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Welcome to the Dark Side: A Savory Chocolate Feast


Graphic artist, children's book illustrator, musician, designer, amateur chef and professional chocolate taster (you read that right); these are just a few of the talents that make Genevieve Leloup one of the most interesting people I know. However, what inspired me to invite her onto an episode of Vinous in the Kitchen is Genevieve’s ability to mix her passion for chocolate and cooking to create some of the tastiest and thought-provoking dishes imaginable.

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 meal centered on every manifestation of chocolate imaginable. Savory, salty, sour and sweet. 

Genevieve 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, Genevieve would spend as much time as possible learning the tricks of the trade. It wasn’t long before she started to record her knowledge and preparations in a food diary, written by hand, which serves as a collection of recipes, friends and culinary memories. She still uses this book, and she even brought it along with her to share these recipes with you and me.

Not only did she school me in using chocolate for savory preparations and the responsible practice of seeking out bean-to-bar creations, she also taught me a lot about how to taste chocolate. 

Tasting Chocolate 101

Much like wine, chocolate only reveals its best traits when given the proper attention. For instance, you should first allow the chocolate to warm a bit in your hand, and then cup your hands around your nose and breath in deeply. Remember, what we taste is really what we smell (as a matter of fact, between 60%-70%). Next, place the chocolate in your mouth and chew for only a very short while. Push the chocolate up against the top of your palate (it’s the warmest spot in your mouth), which will warm it even further. Throughout this process, remember to breathe deeply and let the air pass over your palate as you do so. Move the chocolate around your mouth and chew as it feels natural. In the end, you can find more aromas and flavors in a piece of chocolate than you can in even the most complex wines. 

Back to the Savory Side

With Genevieve at the helm, and me playing swing chef and sommelier, we created three savory preparations using three different kinds of chocolate. For the sauce (or condiment) that would go with the fish, we used an 85% bean-to-bar chocolate. For the fish itself, we coated it in an earthy, fruity and nutty mixture of hazelnut, rosemary and cacao nibs (which are basically roasted and crushed cacao beans). Lastly, for the Roasted Beet and Chocolate Crostini, we used a fine cacao powder. To cap off our evening, I created my ultimate cheese plate which, of course, was adorned with pieces of dark chocolate for snacking, but that’s another episode for another day. Follow the recipes below, and you’ll be amazed by the results. The chocolate never overpowered in any of these preparations. Instead, it accentuated and added depths of unexpected aromas and flavors.

As for the wine pairings, which is likely the part of these preparations that most people would assume is the most intimidating, it’s actually easier than you think. When you consider what to pair with chocolate, it’s the level of sweetness that you must consider first. The sweeter the chocolate, the further you get from being able to pair it with a dry wine. Sweeter wines work well when you fall below 80% dark chocolate. In fact, if I was asked to pair a wine with dark chocolate, but not a savory chocolate dish, my first thought would be an off-dry, bubbly Lambrusco. However, once we reach the level of milk chocolate, it’s better to look at something like bourbon, which is a perfect chocolate pairing. What’s interesting about the preparations below is that the more difficult thing to pair with is the acidity, not the chocolate. As for the fish itself, think of it more as a neutral vessel that’s carrying the amazingly complex flavors and aromas of the crust we’re creating. When you consider that, the pairing options change drastically. Below are my suggestions, but I think it also pays to mention that the wine that paired best with all of these recipes was the white Burgundy. 

The video tutorial is packed full of hints and tips to create the perfect savory chocolate feast.

The Wine Pairings:

Gewürztraminer (This is a perfect pairing for all things fish and especially the beet and chocolate spread.)

- Featured: 2018 Kofererhof Valle Isarco Gewürztraminer. Find it on Delectable.

Riesling Kabinett (An off-dry and filigree Riesling has the acidity and ripeness to handle everything on these plates.)

- Featured: 2015 Weingut Johannishof Johannisberger Riesling Kabinett. Find it on Delectable

Riesling Trocken or GG (This is a game of contrasts, using the intense acids of the Riesling to counterbalance the dressings, sauces and citrus on these plates.)

- Featured: 2012 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Trocken. Find it on Delectable.

White Burgundy (Now we’re talking about contrasts and complements. The crust on the cod and the white Burgundy are a match made in heaven, along with enough acidity to stand up against the dressings and sauces.)

- Featured wine: 2017 Paul Pillot Saint-Aubin 1er cru Les Pitangerets. Find it on Delectable.

Pinot Bianco (Think of Pinot Grigio with more body and fruit, and you have Pinot Bianco. Same great acidity, yet voluminous and pliant.)

- Featured wine: 2019 Elena Walch Pinot Bianco. Find it on Delectable.

Share your own wine pairings on Delectable and check out what others have paired with chocolate, fish, and more.

Roasted Beet and Chocolate Crostini

Can be served as an appetizer, hors d'oeuvres or accompaniment to your meal.

Ingredients (Makes around 20 Crostini): 

4 roasted red beets (roasted at 400 degrees for 1 ½ hours, peeled and chopped)

2 tablespoons of Bourbon 

4 plump dates, chopped

4 teaspoons of cacao powder

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

½ cup roasted walnuts (chopped)

½ teaspoon of fine sea salt

2 tablespoons of tahini (make sure to stir well until consistently smooth)

1 baguette 

1 bunch of fresh basil

½ cup of fresh ricotta cheese

The Recipe:

1. Warm the bourbon and pour over the chopped dates. Allow this to soak for five minutes.

2. Put the roasted beets, lemon juice, cacao powder, garlic, walnuts, chopped dates, sea salt and tahini into a food processor and process until you reach a mostly smooth consistency.

Process until you reach a smooth consistency.

3. Turn off the food processor, scrape down the sides, and process again until completely smooth.

4. Cut the baguette crosswise into ½-inch slices. You can toast these if serving immediately.

5. Using a spoon, spread the beet and chocolate mixture evenly over each piece.

Spread the beet and chocolate mixture evenly over each piece and top with ricotta cheese and basil leaf.

6. Add a dollop of ricotta cheese, garnish each one with a basil leaf and serve.

Hazelnut and Cocoa Nib Crusted Cod

The Chocolate Vinegar Sauce

Ingredients (Makes 4-5 servings):

3 1/2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

3 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

½ cup of white sugar

1 ounce of 85% dark chocolate

Prep ingredients for the chocolate vinegar sauce.

The Recipe: 

1. Place the apple cider and balsamic vinegars in a small pot over a medium-low flame.

2. Slowly pour in the sugar while whisking until the sugar melts into the mix.

Combine the ingredients for the chocolate vinegar sauce over a low flame.

3. Lower the flame and allow this mixture to simmer for five minutes.

4. After five minutes, remove the sauce from the flame and whisk in the chocolate until completely melted.

5. Allow this mixture to cool completely.

The Fish


2 pounds of cod cut into equal size portions

1 organic lemon, zested

1 organic orange, zested

4 teaspoons of fresh rosemary, chopped 

80 grams of cacao nibs

A few cracks of wild Madagascar pepper (or your favorite black pepper)

1/2 cup of roasted hazelnuts chopped fine

1 egg white

sea salt for seasoning

The Recipe:

1. Combine the hazelnuts, cacao nibs, rosemary, lemon and orange zests in a large bowl, and mix them together until consistent.

Combine the hazelnuts, cacao nibs, rosemary, lemon and orange zests in a large bowl.

2. Lay out your cod fillets and brush them with egg white.

3. Season the fillets with sea salt.

Brush the fillets with egg whites and sprinkle with salt.

4. Slowly pour the hazelnut and cacao nut mixture over each fillet, patting it down to create a crust.

5. Carefully flip each fillet, brush them with egg whites on this side and season with salt.

6. Again, slowly pour the hazelnut and cacao nut mixture on this side of each fillet, patting it down to create a crust.

Pour the hazelnut and cacao nut mixture on this side of each fillet, patting it down to create a crust.

7. Place a sauté or frying pan (you may need two) over a medium flame and add either avocado oil or ghee to coat the bottom of the pan.

8. Once the oil has heated through, gently add the fillets to the pan.

Gently add the fillets to the pan and sauté for two-three minutes on each side.

9. Sauté over medium heat for two-three minutes on each side.

10. Move the fillets to your plates, and dress with the chocolate vinegar sauce. You can choose to drizzle it over each fillet or drizzled on the plate itself.

11. Serve with a fresh salad of greens dressed with vinaigrette (see below). 

Plate and dress the fillets with the chocolate vinegar sauce and serve with a fresh salad.

Salad and Vinaigrette


5 ounces of field greens (mixed greens)

1 Belgian endive (washed, outer layer peeled and sliced crosswise into bite size portions)

½ shallot, fine dice

5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon of the Chocolate Vinegar Sauce from above

Salt to taste

The Recipe:

1. Toss the greens with the Belgian endive in a large bowl.

2. Season with salt and pepper.

Whisk the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, shallot and Dijon mustard until consistent.

3. Add the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, shallot and Dijon mustard into a separate bowl, and whisk until consistent.

4. Add the teaspoon of chocolate vinegar sauce and whisk again.

5. Season with salt to taste.

Toss the salad with the vinaigrette and serve.

6. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad leaves, toss one last time and serve.