The growing empire that is Grenadian Chocolate is not one to be ignored. My parents’ era was all about ‘playing under the coco’ and drinking cocoa tea. My older siblings were part of the milk chocolate era of Snickers and Milo and it seemed all hope was lost. I feel really blessed to live in the times when dark chocolate is trending again, because it’s for the all right reasons. Cacao is no longer stuck in history books as the so called prized possession of the conquistadores. And honestly, a handful of cocoa beans are worth much more than a rabbit now.
After missing the Grenada Chocolate Festival for three consecutive years, I was delighted for the opportunity to attend this May. It takes true passion and dedication to educate and empower a community year after year, which the Grenada Chocolate Fest team does so graciously. Since it’s inception, we have seen the opening of House of Chocolate, the operation of more local chocolateirs, and an increase in educational awareness which provides comprehensive benefits to our nation. Plus the excusable act of eating handfuls of chocolate for an entire week.
Learning How to Cook with Chocolate
The fifth day of sessions started with Learning How To Cook With Chocolate ft. True Blue Resort’s star team of Esther and Omega and Food Blogger of “Kitchen Talk” Heidi Roberts. With such a delectable preview at opening night, I was all game to see chocolate out of its usual cake and shake context.
The morning was a heady mix of the chill vibe at Dodgy Dock, fresh produce and bowls and bowls of chocolate. But the excitement of the unknown was enough to forge everyone into the cooking arena to meet their teachers.
Esther and Omega make a very formidable duo; dare I say the Bishop and Coard of the kitchen, revolutionising local cuisine while maintaining authenic Grenadian flavour. They are hilariously entertaining but they are also awesome teachers so within no time, ingredients were assembled and everyone got to cooking 【Esther & Omega’s Curry Chocolate Chicken】
With four work stations, four teams were established. Maybe it was caffeine induced or genuine human instinct but somehow the cooking class turned into a competition, with all teams anxious to win a bottle of creamy Molico.
Curry Chicken is a traditional Caribbean recipe that reflects our multi-ethnic heritage and is a domestic and commercial staple. Using chocolate, however, is completely new and we all hoped, enjoyable. Esther and Omega expertly advised the use of a dark chocolate blend (60% and 70%) to balance the rich and bitter tones and each team prepared the recipe as listed.
Or so they thought. Despite using the same recipe, each team managed to present different intensities of flavour. You guys, it was the little things. Like using a whole scotch bonnet instead dicing it up. Or leaving a crack of space between the pot and it’s cover. We weren’t just learning how to cook with chocolate, we were learning how to cook.
If you know anything about stewing, you would know it takes some time. I’m more of a stir-fry chica; in and out of the wok in five. However, Esther and Omega kept everyone occupied with all their stories and adventures while the pots bubbled away. Everyone was so busy laughing that they almost didn’t notice how hungry they were, until the smell of finito rose to their nostrils.
Each pot had a special aroma and appearance but only one could win the palates of the judges. After some thoughtful chewing and deliberation, Team Nutmeg were declared the winners by the stalk of a scotch bonnet (inside joke).
There were of course no sore losers because everyone got a plate of 【Chocolau】Chocolate Pelau, prepared by the duo, to pair with their Curry Chocolate Chicken. Believe me when I tell you, this was the winning combination right here. And the first ding of pot scrapping was the sound that crushed any dream of leftovers or seconds.
After such an intense work-out of stewing and pot-watching (it’s an art), Heidi swooped in and gave us the run down on an easy mouthful of Mini Chocolate Tarts. And all we needed were 3 ingredients:
- Shortbread Pastry
- Chocolate Bars
- Confectioner’s Sugar
This recipe, I can see myself using every weekend. I’m just not sure if my jeans would be as cooperative. Simply cut squares of pastry and place them into greased tart tins. Crush your favourite dark chocolate bar into yummy bits, fill the tarts and pop into the oven until lightly golden.
Once cooled, a couple shakes of confectioner’s sugar and we had a crunchy, gooey, sweet treat to end the session. It was such an effortless, easy breezy way to enjoy dark chocolate.
Coming out of this session, chocolate became fun again. I loved the idea of using it in savoury dishes. It may take some practice, but it’ll be one of those things that are worth the effort. The tarts were a true ode to Caribbean Pastry traditions and fit right into our usual jam and coconut flavours. I’m still amazed that this isn’t already sold in local bakeries. Esther, Omega and Heidi have fully convinced me that there is more to chocolate than just eating.
If you want to find out more about Grenada Chocolate Fest, hit them up on social media. Make sure you check out past events of the festival (May 12th-20th 2017) and definitely sign up for next year’s.