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9 Surprising Ways to Use Chocolate for Valentine’s Day

From traditional mole sauce to chocolate pasta and spicy hot chocolate, chefs and home cooks are getting creative with the beloved brown stuff.

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When we think of chocolate, we typically picture something sweet and indulgent. Visions of cakes, brownies and cookies dance in our heads. But the bold flavors and complex notes of dark chocolate make it a perfect complement to many savory and spicy dishes as well. Here are nine great recipes that use chocolate in surprising ways.

  • When it’s cold out, sometimes all you want to do is curl up with a steaming mug of hot chocolate (above). With a little cinnamon and chipotle, my Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe will keep even the Polar Vortex at bay.
  • Chocolate Red Wine Beef Stew may sound unusual, but the bold flavors come together to make this a true comfort food meal.
  • Pasta di cacao, or chocolate pasta, is well known in Italy but it is just starting to pop up on this side of the Atlantic. If you have a pasta maker, try Chocolate Fettuccini with Mascarpone and Lemon for an interesting twist on dinner.
9-surprising-ways-to-use-chocolate-for-valentines-day-01 Chocolate Fettuccine with Mascarpone and Lemon

  • Chocolate smoothies are nothing new, but what about a smoothie made with cayenne pepper, cardamom and even some black pepper? This Spicy Dark Chocolate Coconut Smoothie contains all that and more.
  • Salmon doesn’t usually spring to mind when you think of chocolate dishes, but cocoa powder is delicious in spicy rubs for meat and fish. Try this Chocolate Chipotle Seared Salmon for a new take on an old favorite.
  • Not all mole sauces contain chocolate, but it’s a delicious ingredient in many traditional Mexican dishes. Mole Rojo Chicken Soup combines chocolate, tahini and plenty of spice to warm you right down to your toes.
9-surprising-ways-to-use-chocolate-for-valentines-day-02 Paleo Slow Cooker Chili

  • This recipe for Pumpernickel Bread uses unconventional ingredients to achieve traditional results. Unsweetened chocolate and a little espresso powder simulate the appearance and flavors of traditional slow-baked German rye pumpernickel. 
  • Smoked paprika and dark cocoa powder give this Paleo Slow Cooker Chili a deep, intense flavor. It’s a hearty meal for a cold winter’s night.
  • Who doesn’t want to have chocolate for breakfast? Instead of grabbing a muffin from your local coffee shop, try adding some to your oatmeal. This Mexican Chocolate Brownie Oatmeal uses old fashioned oats, cocoa powder and cayenne for a healthy start to the day.
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