Desserts born in the flames
It’s not ironic that I’m posting this around Valentine’s Day. We’re holed up in our house and I’m doing my best to make the weekend special for my wife. Smoked chocolate and grilled berries? Absolute hit.
I wanted to make a few different desserts with smoked chocolate. Typically my go-to is to simply bake them into the best cookies EVER. Transforming the rich, bitter flavors of smoked chocolate into a sweet mousse with grilled berries was a good choice with great rewards. Trust me.
Also check out: Bourbon Smoked Chocolate Truffles
The best part about this recipe has to be the fact that you can prepare it ahead of time. Grilled berries will stay fresh for a few days, and the smoked chocolate for months. Let’s tackle it, first the Smoked Chocolate.
Smoked Chocolate Process
Every winter I always cold-smoke a lot of chocolate, storing it for the future like some dessert-hungry squirrel that needs his fix. Arizona summers are too hot to cold-smoke anything; the chocolate would just melt in my hands before I set them in the grill. There’s a few bags of chocolate that will end up in my fridge & freezer for summertime.
The process is incredibly easy, however there are a few tips for success:
- Smoke adds bitter. I like to use a 60% dark chocolate, so the end result isn’t too bitter. You can use milk chocolate or dark, but I do not recommend using chips. They will not melt properly for the final result. Those 4 oz bars of baking chocolate that you can chop up are recommended.
- Don’t overdo it. Smoke can quickly take over the chocolate. I recommend smoking for 20-30 minutes max, and then sealing in a bag so the flavors absorb. It’s ready to use in an hour.
- Use a smoker tube. This is a small device that you fill with wood chips or pellets, light, and smoke. You can even do this in a foil pan (outside), you don’t need a grill. Listing one below:
My cooking journey leads me towards open flames and the coals. Studying new ways to incorporate flavors is an obsession of mine. This part of the process is not my own.
I learned this process from chef Lennox Hastie, recently on Chefs Table. He recommends grilling mulberries and blueberries, I happened to have marionberries on hand. The flavor of the fire bursts through, as do the berries if you’re not careful. Chef recommends grilling these for 1-2 minutes just to warm them up and absorb the fire.
Using the grilled berries
The photos show the berries and a sauce, both made with simply sugar and the grilled berries.
Sauce can be made by simply blending 4oz of berries with a pinch of sugar and a tiny splash of water. Accurate measuring you can tell. I’d recommend a tablespoon of water to start. That same strainer used for grilling was also used for the grilled berry sauce, straining out any excess seeds and pulp for a smooth texture.
Here’s an amazing book by the chef:
Coming together for Chocolate Mousse
Combining the ingredients into mousse is beyond simple. Melting chocolate and adding the items into a food processor is all you need to do, you can even eat it immediately. Which, obviously you will be. You can’t avoid chocolate.
Chocolate Mousse Process
Start with ricotta cheese. Blend 2 cups of this into a food processor on high for 2 minutes or so until it get creamy. The goal is to smooth is out.
Melt the smoked chocolate. Use a double boiler on the stove to quickly melt this. Take a pot of water, boil it, and place a glass bowl on top of the pan (water shouldn’t touch the bottom) filled with the chopped chocolate. Stir for a bit and it will melt perfectly.
Add in sugar, salt, and chocolate. Pour this in while blending and it will incorporate. You’ll probably need to scrap the sides once or twice.
Transform the rich, bitter flavors of smoked chocolate into a sweet mousse with grilled berries.
- 4 oz dark chocolate bar, 60% recommended
- 8 oz berries, (blackberries, blueberries, mulberries, etc.)
- 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- pinch of salt
- mint for garnish
- Smoke the chocolate. Place the chocolate on a mesh mat, or a baking sheet inside your smoker. Prepare your grill for cold smoking using a smoking tube, or wood chips. Smoke the chocolate for 20-30 minutes for the desired flavor. Place in a sealed bag until needed.
- Place the ricotta in the food processor and blend on high for 2 minutes until smooth. Move on to melting the chocolate.
- Boil a small pan with water, and place a glass bowl over the top to create a double-boiler. Chop up the chocolate into smaller pieces which allows them to melt simply. Place the chocolate in the bowl and stir frequently with a spatula until it melts.
- Add the sugar and salt to the ricotta and turn on the food processor. Stream the chocolate all in while it’s blending. You may need to stop and scrape the sides. You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for later.
- Grill the berries. Take the berries and roll/toss them in the caster sugar. You can use a spice grinder to blitz regular sugar superfine if you do not have caster sugar. Place them in a metal strainer directly over hot coals for 1-2 minutes, just until they change color and look like they will burst.
- Serve the berries right away with mousse, berry puree (blending berries with a touch of water and sugar), and some mint.
The entire dish can be prepared ahead of time, even the berries.
Keywords: smoked chocolate, berries, fruit, chocolate, dessert, sweet