I have been asked to submit a couple of sweet/savoury tapas for an upcoming event where Clonakilty Chocolate will be launching their new bean-to-bar chocolate range (5th March…get your tickets here!). Following on from the success of my Savoury Cooking with Chocolate Supper Club in February I was feeling very much up to the challenge! Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be adding a few more sweet/savoury chocolate recipes to the blog just to finish off the Chocolate Season on Flavour.ie in style!
This recipe does just that and then puts it together with the classic flavours of pear and walnut. The bacon here is a molasses cured local west cork bacon that is then smoked over hard woods to give a sweet and smokey flavour. Topped off with peppery mustard leaves and the whole mouthful just gives you a taste experience that is moreish, delicious and full of umami. If you cannot get your hands on the Baltimore Pig Molasses Cured Bacon (click here), you could substitute it for another sweet smoked bacon like Maple. It won’t be the same or as nice, but at least it means you won’t be stopped from making this dish! Chocolate wise, naturally I would love it if this recipe could be made with the 70% Pink Himalyan Salt dark chocolate from Clonakilty Chocolate which can be bought online to there really is no excuse! If you can’t get this, then substitute with a good quality 70% dark chocolate – the best quality you can get, and add to taste some great quality sea salt flakes – Maldon is particularly good as this salt has a nice smooth quality to it, but if you can get your hands on a box of some Atlantic Sea Salt then that could work too. Add little at a time and to taste. You are looking for a good balance of sea salt, rosemary and a little background heat from the black pepper.
Ingredients (per person, easy to scale up):
- ½ peel ripe and juicy pear
- Handful of organic peppery leaves, such as oriental mustard leaves or rocket
- 2 slices of Baltimore Pig Molasses Cured Bacon (you can substitute with a sweet cured bacon such as Maple or Hickory)
- 2 freshly cracked walnuts
- 25g 70% min pink himalayan salt dark chocolate
- 1 spring of fresh rosemary
- Couple of twists of black pepper
- ½ tsp of sea salt flakes, or more to suit your taste (ONLY IF you are using a plain dark chocolate that isn’t pre-seasoned with salt).
- 50ml cold water
- Dash of single cream
- Splash of white wine.
- In a small saucepan, put the chocolate, water and rosemary and on a very low heat gently melt together. Stir here and there to combine and to prevent any burning.
- Season with black pepper, add in the remaining water and combine. Then add in the cream and mix together.
- Add in the sea salt, mix and turn off the heat altogether and let all the flavour meld together for about 10 minutes. Then take out the rosemary sprig so as not to over-flavour with it.
- On a flat frying pan, slowly and gently cook the bacon to release the bacony juices and to crisp up the bacon. Turn every couple of minutes or so to ensure that the bacon doesn’t stick or burn. When done, turn the bacon out onto kitchen towel to cool. When cooled, snap into small pieces, set aside.
- Deglaze the pan with some white wine. Wait for the wine to boil back and reduce by half. Drain the bacon juices into a bowl.
- Take the pear, peel it, slice it in half and core it. Then slice each half lengthways very finely. With the other half of the pear, squeeze some of the juice out into a bowl and mix in with the bacon juices, season with some black pepper and combine.
- Turn the low heat back on under the chocolate sauce again, stir, check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
- Meanwhile, take a good handful of the leaves and dress them with some of the bacon/pear juice mix. Then toss in the broken up bacon pieces and one of the freshly cracked walnuts crumbled up. Combine thoroughly and then mound up on the plate.
- Place a generous spoonful of the warm chocolate sauce on the plate, and swish to around. On top of that place the sliced pear.
- Dress the remainder of the plate with drops of the warm chocolate sauce, crumbled walnut pieces and a couple of rosemary leaves for garnish.
- Serve immediately with some nice sourdough bread and real butter.