Deeply Flavored Vegan Chili Cacao
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There is one food with chocolate that I absolutely despise. Mole. I don’t get it. The cinnamon and strong chocolate flavor overwhelms me like an over salted dish. Making it almost impossible for me to eat. There are so many people who rave about it. And so I have tried it over and over and I just can’t understand the appeal. However, when I did my “vegan for a year” experiment I learned to love a savory dish with dark chocolate in it, Chili Cacao.
While I was eating vegan I really struggled to feel satisfied in the beginning. By the end of my experiment I absolutely loved eating plant based foods. It’s almost as if your body resets itself to a new type of food. In fact the smell of meat made me totally ill. Now I eat very little meat and I am super conscious about where it comes from. But at first I needed something to help me through the craving for meat. Luckily I decided to mess around with chili. Beans were like heaven when you just craved protein and making and eating chili was comforting. Chili Cacao became a familiar staple on my table that I wanted over and over.
Chili Cacao is even a crowd pleaser for those who may not be on board with the idea of plant based food. My sister got married during my year of veganism and I was lucky enough to get to host her bridal shower. Hosting events for my loved ones is seriously one of my favorite hobbies. Yet I was very worried about serving a vegan menu. I even considered going back to some traditional foods. But it became a challenge for me to create a menu that no one would question and everyone would love. This chili made the cut. And to this day my sisters’ friends talk about that time where they had the best vegan food at her bridal shower.
Notes: Making Chili Cacao
This recipe is full of simple ingredients you probably have in your pantry and it’s quick and easy. Yet as it simmers and sits the flavors develop and become deeply flavored. The chocolate in this really melds well with the other ingredients. You get a subtle play of cacao without killing the pallet. It’s hearty and will please even the biggest appetite. You can spice it up by adding chopped jalapeño. I keep mine pretty mild for my kids. But I love it real spicy too!
Also, I implore you to use dark dark chocolate, at least 70% cacao. I feel like the reason people hate dark chocolate is because they tried cheap darks. The nicer and higher quality dark chocolate is far superior than your run of the mill Hersey’s bar. Definitely find the nicest dark chocolate bar and play with it. I love adding chocolate with fruity, floral, or vanilla notes. This is the key to creating a rich sauce that lends to the dish. And you might just enjoy your chocolate tasting as you find the right chocolate bar for your Chili Cacao.
- 1 Tbs Olive Oil
- 1 Onion chopped
- 3 Cloves of Garlic minced
- 2 Tbs of Chili Powder
- 1 Tsp of Cumin Powder
- 6 Medium Tomatoes blended but not quite pureed
- 1 Tbs of Molasses
- 1 Vegetable Boullion Cube
- 4 Oz of chopped dark Chocolate
- 1 Cup each of cooked/drained Chickpeas, Black Beans, and Pinto Beans
- ½ Cup fresh Corn kernels
- ½ Cup Red, Green, and/or Yellow bell peppers
- Using an enamel dutch oven add your olive oil and onion.
- Sautee until translucent.
- Add your garlic, cumin, and chili powder and lightly toast.
- Pour your tomatoes, molasses, and bouillon over and deglaze the pan.
- Bring to a low boil and add your chocolate.
- Finally add your beans, corn, and peppers.
- Simmer for 30 min on very low heat.
- This gets better as the flavors develop over time. More robust the next day.