Saturday, 18 February 2012

We Should Cocoa Challenge: Savoury and Vegetarian

Bear with me, because this is a bit crazy. But it's not bad, although I admit it could do with a bit more tweaking before I'm really finished with it. This month, the We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by the Chocolate Log Blog is to create something savoury and vegetarian that includes some form of chocolate. If it was savoury and the vegetarian aspect wasn't there, that would be easy. Venison in chocolate sauce, chocolate chilli con carne, that kind of thing. But it was, and so I racked my brain for something veggie that would go with chocolate.

And then it hit me. I once interviewed Jean Christophe Novelli and he told me that a secret to making a rich gravy is to add in some cocoa powder to the pan as you sweat down the onions. Cocoa and onions... OK, I thought. And then, as my mind raced, I remembered my recent adventures in goat's cheese when I found it tasted actually pretty good with dark chocolate. And so the concept, at least, for the Chocoholic's Onion and Goat's Cheese Tart was born.



I made this a couple of times, and the cocoa powder really did give a darkness and sweetness to the caramelised onions. The goat's cheese was tart enough to balance all that out - and then you have the crisp, puff pastry to balance out all that soft onion. I liked the taste of it - it didn't really taste of the cocoa as such, just dark, sweet, gooey onions. The only problem the first time I made it was the aftertaste - a few minutes after eating you could have convinced yourself that you'd just wolfed down a chocolate brownie and not something savoury at all. The second time, I used much less cocoa powder and it was lovely. I'm not sure if this is the finished dish yet though, I'm going to keep tinkering with it until I'm absolutely sure. But here it is, at least for now...

Chocoholic's Onion and Goat's Cheese Tart
Serves 2
Ingredients
  • A rectangle of puff pastry, rolled out to around 5mm thick (size: 13cm x 19cm)
  • 1 large white onion
  • ½ tsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp dark brown sugar
  • a sprig or two of fresh thyme, or dried if you have it
  • 80g soft goat's cheese
  • Beaten egg, for brushing.
Method
  1. Slice the onions and tip into a frying pan with a knob of butter and a trickle of olive oil and fry gently until they are soft. Add the cocoa powder and brown sugar  and stir to coat the onions. Continue to cook until they are soft and a bit jammy, about 15-20 minutes more. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 220C. Score a rectangle just inside the pastry, a centimetre or so in, where you want the border of the tart to be. Brush with beaten egg, especially around the border and carefully spoon in  the onion mixture, keeping it within the scored rectangle. Top with some thyme leaves, and slice up the goat's cheese and arrange on top.
  3. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry has puffed up and the goat's cheese is slightly browned.

Have you ever cooked a savoury recipe with chocolate or cocoa?