Chef Dan Craig Pushes Limits with Chocolate at Cacao Barry’s #FlavourDinner

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Chef Dan Craig hard at work at Cacao Barry’s Flavour Dinner (Image: Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Cacao Barry)

Sitting in on a dinner for chefs is an honour that rarely happens; it’s an opportunity that arises once in a lifetime. But if a time when you can sit down with culinary creatives does occur, take the opportunity because it is sure to be event to remember; a stomach-pleasing party full of fine fare.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of joining 20 of Toronto’s finest chefs and industry professionals for a Cacao Barry Flavour Dinner. The on-going series features chefs cooking for chefs, creating decadent dinners with Cacao Barry chocolate incorporated into each dish. The series I attended took place at TOCA inside the Ritz-Carlton hotel and was led by Executive Chef Dan Craig and Pastry Chef Gael Moutet.

The evening was full of inventive dishes, from roasted spot prawn consommé brewed in a Cona Coffee Maker and poured onto morel mushrooms and ricotta filled Extra Brute Cocoa agnolotti, to a dish titled The Romaine, which combined the sweetness from the Zéphyr Caramel white chocolate with the savouriness of lettuce and Parmigiano Reggiano, and acidity and fruitiness of passion fruit sorbet.

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The Romaine (Image: Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Cacao Barry)

But perhaps what was most impressive of all was Executive Chef Craig’s ability to turn chocolate’s sickly sweet dessert reputation upside down to show a more savoury side. “The trick for us was finding what chocolate worked with the food we were working with,” Chef Craig tells me. “For savoury food, you definitely want to go with a bitter chocolate, so you’re looking at 45 per cent or even 60 per cent up.” And when cooking with Cacao Barry, you’re not limited to chocolate in its most known form. “For the agnolotti, I used cocoa powder because, naturally, it’s dry and it will fold into pasta properly.”

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Chef Craig prepares the Spot Prawn Consommé (Image: Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Cacao Barry) 

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Extra Brute Cocoa agnolotti with spot prawn consommé (Image: Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Cacao Barry)

For at-home chefs with a love for sultry chocolate flavours, incorporating it into everyday dishes may seem like something that can only be done in a chef’s kitchen, but Chef Craig assures me it’s not; chocolate can be infused into dishes in small ways. Take, for instance, the Saint-Domingue dark chocolate mustard that was paired with the Heritage Tamworth Country pate, “That’s something you could make at home easily, you just make ganache and you fold in the mustard.” 

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Heritage Tamworth Country pate with Saint-Domingue dark chocolate mustard (Image: Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Cacao Barry)

If that seems too daunting, you can try something simpler this summer, like a Cocoa rub for ribs. See our recipe below and prepare for your mouth to water.

What you Need:
1/4 cup sea salt
2 teaspoons Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablepoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper

Instructions:
1. Stir ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Store in an airtight container.
2. To use, rub 2-3 teaspoons on a serving of meat, and let stand for at least 10 minutes before cooking. 

For more inspiration on how to incorporate chocolate into everyday dishes, visit Cacao Barry’s website for incredible recipes, or follow #FlavourDinner on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for ideas from the city’s finest chefs.

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What other ways do you use chocolate at home? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe

Amanda Phuong

Amanda Phuong

Amanda Phuong is a digital content creator and the Editor-in-Chief of Vv Magazine and StyleDemocracy.com. When she's not furiously typing away, you'll find her trying on shoes, hanging with friends or slurping back oysters.
Amanda Phuong