Dark Chocolate Chili

Posted on Jan 6 2016 - 1:33pm by Megan

dark chocolate chili

Occasionally I get the random troll commenting on The Hot Chilly Facebook page. Usually the comment is on one of my more unique recipes and is something along the lines of “yuck!” or “that’s not chili!”. Well, I highly anticipate that this recipe will get a few of those. But for those who can wrap their foodie minds around the fun possibilities of savory-sweet or spicy-sweet combos, this one’s for you! Oh, and for those trolls out there, keep heating up your Hormel and if you feel adventurous, dip a few Fritos in there :)


This dish works well for a few different reasons; the main one being pure comfort. Comfort food makes you smile when you take a bite. It can either remind you of a great moment in life, a childhood memory, or it can just warm up your soul. Good mood food, like chocolate, actually sneaks its way into your brain chemistry just to make you happy. What a nice, friendly little food that is!

Chili can also be a comfort food. An accompaniment to a cozy night on the couch with a fire in the fireplace, a good book to read, and a picture-window view of the snow falling. So let’s take physical comfort and combine it with chemical happiness, stir in some beer and serve it topped with cool, smooth Mexican crema. Pure, delicious, food induced bliss :)


The other reason this chili really pulls itself together well is because it contains a couple classic flavor match-ups. We have sweet and spicy: brown sugar with chili powder. I went a little heavier on ground chili de arbol because despite packing a heat punch, it also has a naturally sweet note.
The other flavor combo we highlight here is the sweet and savory. I used a very dark chocolate in this dish to maximize the savory and then spiked it with a sweet ginger beer and a rich brown sugar. This combines very well with hearty braised, beef. If you can’t find a ginger beer (or a gluten-free ginger beer like I was lucky enough to score!), then feel free to substitute a pale ale with a teaspoon of ground ginger.

ginger beer

This is rich. This is heavy. A little goes a long way. The crema on top is necessary to cut the intensity of the flavors. This is also a great little luxury dish. If you have open minded food loving friends, it’s a great recipe to pull out at a dinner party to impress and amaze. And it’s sure to put your guests in a good, comfortable, mood :)

The Recipe:

Start by cutting a chuck roast (approximately 2 pounds) into large chunks, about ½ to 2/3 pound pieces. Place the chunks into a large pot and sprinkle with 1 t salt, 1 t garlic powder, 2 t ground cumin, 1 t chili powder, 1 t onion powder, and 1 t of black pepper. Add 2 cups of beef broth to the bottom of the pot, cover and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to the lowest setting on your stove and let cook until the meat easily starts to shred apart with a fork: 2-3 hours.

spiced beef

Once fully cooked, remove the meat from the pot, shred, and set aside. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid and then return the empty pot to the stove.

shredded beef

Over medium heat, combine 1 finely chopped sweet onion (yields just over a cup), 1 T of ground chili de arbol, ½ T of ground guajillo chili, 1 t of ground cinnamon, and one bottle of ginger beer. Stir and then let simmer, uncovered, until the onions turn translucent: about 10 minutes. I was able to find the pre-ground chili de arbol and guajillo chili at a Mexican market in the dried chili section. If you cannot find the pre-ground, then just use the dried chilis and give them a quick whirl (minus the seeds and stems) in a coffee grinder.

ground chili powder

Add back into the pot (still over medium heat) the shredded beef and reserved cooking liquid along with 1 ½ cups of beef broth, 2 ounces of dark chocolate, 2 T of brown sugar, and ½ t sea salt. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the ingredients are fully combined.

To serve:

Ladle into a bowl and top with a drizzle of Mexican crema. If you cannot find Mexican crema in your grocery store, you can melt a tablespoon of cream cheese to use as a substitute. If you’re feeling super fancy, you can add some chocolate shavings (I was not feeling super fancy, so I left those off).

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