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Food and chocolate pairing menus

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Menu ideas for chocolate lovers

Do you know letting chocolate melt in your mouth produces brain and heart activity similar to (and sometimes stronger than) passionate kissing? The next time you’re planning an evening in with your sweetie (or even a night in with the girls), mix and match these fun ideas for pairing your favorite foods with your favorite sweet for an inspired chocolate-themed meal.

Kiwi with chocolate

Appetizers

That's right... chocolate before the meal! Try making chocolate fondue with rosemary to serve with sliced fresh zucchini to go with an Italian meal. Or make chocolate goat cheese by mixing a teaspoon of crushed chocolate nibs (the center of the cocoa bean) for every ounce of cheese. You can add a bit of garlic or honey for extra flavor. Refrigerate and serve with crackers or a crusty bread.

You can make it easy with dipping chocolate. For appetizers, try an intense dark chocolate since it isn't as sweet as other options. To cover a selection of salty treats, melt 12-ounces of chocolate chips or shavings and a tablespoon of shortening in the microwave, stirring every 20 or 30 seconds. Dip pretzels, potato chips or even crispy bacon into the chocolate and let it dry on a foil-lined, greased cookie sheet.

Chocolate for dinner

We tend to think of chocolate as a snack or dessert, but chocolate can also be incorporated into your dinner menu. In fact, it wasn't until the 1500s when sugar was first added to make chocolate the dessert we think of now.

For a savory chocolate meal, try a chocolate or mole sauce over grilled chicken or shrimp. Add chocolate to your favorite chili or make chocolate barbecue sauce. If you're adventurous, make your own ravioli, adding cocoa to the pasta, and fill with squash or pumpkin.

If you're a little nervous about a foray into savory chocolate, check out this savory chocolate guide with recipes.

Dessert

Ice cream covered with chocolate sauce is everyone's favorite standby, but sometimes you need to kick up the creativity. One simple idea is to make a pudding parfait with chocolate or French vanilla pudding, fruits and semi-sweet, dark or intense dark chocolate shavings.

Fruits are also a simple pairing that tastes great. Try making a pot of dark or white chocolate fondue and serve it with dried or fresh fruits. Popular choices are strawberries, banana slices, pitted cherries, sliced kiwi, sliced Mandarin oranges or an assortment of berries. And remember, for a romantic evening, feeding them to each other is half the fun!

Try this chocolate fondue recipe if you don't have your own.

Dessert isn't all about food. Sometimes a tasty chocolate-flavored drink gives you that after-dinner sweet you need. Hot options include hot cocoa, or coffee with chocolate-flavored creamer or a small piece of chocolate melted in it. Try one of these creative and chocolaty after-dinner options.

More chocolate tips and ideas

Throw a chocolate themed party
Tips for pairing chocolates and wine
5 Dark chocolate after-dinner drinks

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