Why Do You Put Chocolate in Chili?
If you enjoy a good bowl of chili, you probably like it because of its meaty, savory flavors and textures. On the other hand, you might also like chocolate, but for different reasons. It can be a sweet, luxurious dessert or a quick snack in the afternoon. But you probably don’t associate the two dishes with each other, do you?
Maybe you should consider changing your mindset about this, however. Many chili connoisseurs have been adding a little bit of chocolate to their chili dishes for decades, and there is good reason why. So, why would you add something sweet like chocolate to a dish like chili?
Not actually all that sweet
While some chocolates, such as milk chocolate, are very sweet, there are purer forms such as dark chocolate that aren’t very sweet at all. Things like pure chocolate or baking chocolate are usually quite bitter and have a completely different flavor profile than the chocolate bars or snacks that you might be used to.
Most chili recipes that call for chocolate will call for the aforementioned darker chocolate, or perhaps a semi-sweet chocolate for a little bit of a balance. But you won’t be melting American chocolate bars into your chili to get a good flavor.
A great balance
Basically, dark or semi-sweet chocolate can be used to balance out the flavors of the chili, especially if you are using tomatoes. The richness of the chocolate can help cancel out the acidity of the tomatoes or peppers that you might be using. It also gives the chili a deeper color and fuller body. This will lend itself to creating a complex, rich flavor that you are usually looking for in a bowl of chili.
You won’t be able to tell
Like many ingredients that seem odd, you actually won’t likely be able to taste the chocolate in the chili after you’ve done your cooking. It is there to add depth and body, but not necessarily to make the dish taste like chocolate. This is why you don’t add too much relative to the other ingredients. Its chemical properties help it to lift the other flavors of the dish and balance it out rather than making the whole thing taste like chocolate.
In addition to adding some flavor and texture to your chili, you might also add chocolate just for the health benefits. Chocolate contains many antioxidants which can help reduce the number of free radicals in your body. It has also been shown to help lower blood pressure and increase your blood flow, giving you more energy and reducing your chance of heart disease or stroke. On top of this, there are a variety of vitamins in chocolate and it can even help improve your brain function.
Basically, chocolate helps your chili reach its potential both in flavor and in nutritional value, so there’s no reason not to give it a shot next time you’re whipping up a batch!