Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Pepper Dip with Almonds and Chocolate

If I’m called on to cook any sort of fancy or special meal for a few people then there’s a pretty good chance that the starter will be a meze-style selection of dips and other little dishes. That’s partly because I can make them in advance but it’s also because that’s just the way I like to eat. I often use peppers in dips and this particular version has developed a stronger flavour over time. It started out as vaguely North African, then suffered a bit of Spanish influence and now has a hint of Mexico, I suppose. I don’t use green peppers very often in cooking – I’m really not that fond of them - but in this dish the sour qualities are essential.

Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog has set an interesting task for the February We Should Cocoa challenge: a savoury, vegetarian dish including chocolate. So this should fit the bill. You could add some chillies for heat and other flavours such as garlic or more spices. They would work in this dip, but I prefer the purer flavour of peppers, especially since I’d probably serve hotter and spicier dishes alongside it. Softer, salty cheeses such as feta also work really well with the intense pepper flavour.
Pepper Dip with Almonds and Chocolate
Since this dip is strongly flavoured you may not need to serve very much, especially if combined with other dishes, so this amount should serve 6 or more.

3 red peppers
2 green peppers
1 red onion, chopped
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
400 g can tomatoes
A small handful of blanched almonds
3 tsp maple syrup
Around 10 g dark chocolate

Core and deseed all the peppers. Slice the flesh into quarters and grill them until the skins have blackened and the flesh has softened. Place in plastic bag, seal and leave to cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel off the blackened skin and roughly chop the flesh. Set aside a few pieces of chopped pepper for decoration on the finished dip. (Peeling the peppers under running water is sometimes recommended and, although this does make the job a bit easier, I think it washes flavour away.)

Fry the onion very slowly in a little oil until it’s completely soft and starting to caramelise. Add the roughly chopped peppers, the cumin, paprika and the tomatoes. Season and simmer the mixture gently for 30 – 40 minutes. Allow to cool a little before the next stage.

Toast the almonds lightly in a dry frying pan, place in a blender and process briefly. Add the tomato and pepper mixture and process until smooth. Pour back into the pan, heat gently and stir in the maple syrup. Gradually grate in the chocolate, stirring and tasting as you go. Stop adding the chocolate when the flavour is suitably intense – the chocolate is there to intensify the flavour and not to make the dish taste of chocolate. Cool and refrigerate until needed. Ideally, allow the dip to come to room temperature before serving and decorate with the reserved pepper pieces.

18 comments:

  1. Well done, Phil - I was looking forward to what you would come up with. This looks really good!

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  2. wow Phil this really looks amazing... I am most intrigued as to what it tastes like... I guess you could 'water it down' with yoghurt to make it less spicy?... a great entry!

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  3. On my 'to do' list I love the sound of this. Diane

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  4. Wow. I am stunned by how interesting this recipe is. I have never attempted anything like that and I bet the chocolate combines well with the other ingredients.
    I could combine it with ricotta cheese as well.
    Delicious.
    Have a good evening.

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  5. What a brilliant idea! I would never have thought to add chocolate to a dip.

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  6. Love this idea Phil. I make a lot of dips myself, and I would have never thought of pairing peppers and chocolate. And peppers are a veg that are always in my fridge, as the kid loves them. She's going to be in heaven with this dish :)

    I must admit I use a fair few green peppers in my cooking, mainly because Indian cooking doesn't usually use many of the riper versions, and I love the flavours.

    I'll be trying out this dish soon, will let you know how it works out.

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  7. Very interessting dip. wow.. I can imagine the choco taste with the peppers... mhm.. drool worthy!

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  8. Beautiful red pepper dip. I love meze type dishes and this will go nicely with many assortments I'm sure. Never imagined combining peppers with chocolate, but hey, I learn something new everyday.

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  9. I've not heard of anything quite like this and I'm really curious to know what it tastes like.

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  10. wow sounds nice. i wonder what it taste like. but i think its really good combination

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  11. I knew you'd come up with something interesting Phil. This sounds lovely and it's a colour that can take the chocolate too. Can I come and have dinner with you? I love mezze style eating. Thanks for sticking with this one, you're in a minority this month.

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  12. I'm really enjoying all the creative chocolate recipes flying around because of choclette's cocoa challenge this month! nice one phil, would like to try this out!

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  13. Dammit, I knew you would come up with something good! I am absolutely devoid of inspiration for this month's WSC and having seen this and Dom's choc pork belly I feel even more inadequate. Beautiful lemon cake post earlier too, am bookmarking that in the hope I can reach a contra deal with our new neighbours who have an impressive lemon tree.

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  14. Mmmmm ... am imagining this dip slathered on a toasted rustica bread with a thin slice of Manchego and a glass of Rioja ... sun and a warm breeze on a terrace optional!

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  15. Mezze dinners are the best. You are so inventive - very impressed by your dip flavour combinations.

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  16. I agree about mezze plates when entertaining, I do it all the time. I can't wait to try you chocolatey pepper dip, the flavors sound great.

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  17. A very interesting mix of flavours, Phil. One to try.

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