Whether used in classic treats, or to add depth and mystery to a Mexican mole, it’s no secret that chocolate can work well in both sweet and savoury dishes. Cocoa (or cacao) nibs make chocolate flavours even more versatile, adding a robustly savoury edge and crunchy texture to all kinds of recipes.
Twice-roasted duck with salted orange, cocoa nibs and coffee
Orange is such a classic foil for the richness of duck meat. Adding a deeply concentrated vinaigrette with a subtle hint of coffee and the savoury earthiness of cocoa nibs transforms it into something truly special.
1. Leftover duck is great shredded for a sang choy bao or in fried rice.
2. Use any remaining vinaigrette to dress freshly pan-fried duck or chicken livers and serve with toasted sourdough and endive.
2 x size 22 ducks (about 2.2kg each)
4 tbsp salt flakes, plus extra
1 tbsp ground black pepper, plus extra
1 tbsp ground allspice
30ml olive oil
1 litre chicken stock
1 fresh bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp freshly ground coffee
50ml robust extra virgin olive oil
30ml sherry vinegar
watercress, to serve
2 tbsp crushed cocoa nibs
1. When you buy the ducks, ask the butcher or poultry supplier to pop the thigh bones out of the hip sockets and to remove the wishbones. This will make it easier to bone the ducks after cooking them. One day before roasting, take the ducks out of their wrapping and sit them uncovered on a tray in the fridge to drain any juices and dry out the skin. This is optional, though it will help you achieve a crispier skin. It’s important to bring the ducks up to room temperature before cooking.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional.
3. Grind the salt flakes, pepper and allspice in a mortar. Add the olive oil and mix.
4. Trim the necks and any excess fat from the cavities. Rub the salt mix all over the ducks, inside and out. Prick all over with a small knife and place on a roasting rack in a roasting tray. Roast on the middle shelf for one hour. Remove from the oven and rest for 20 minutes.
5. Once rested, score the skin in two lines down the back of one of the ducks. Turn over and, using your knife, fillet one side of the duck right down the breast to the thigh and drumstick and right to the back of the duck. The complete side should come away quite easily. Twist and remove the thighbone and transfer the half duck, skin-side up, to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat for the other side, and for the other duck.
6. Chop over the carcasses and add to a pot with the stock, bay leaf, thyme, garlic and coffee. Peel off the rind of half an orange and add to the pot. Simmer for 45 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, peel and slice three of the oranges, season with salt and pepper and chill until needed. Juice the remaining orange and set aside.
8. Strain the duck stock and add to a medium saucepan with the orange juice. Reduce to about 150 millilitres and set aside to cool a little before adding the extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar. Adjust the seasoning and stir to combine.
9. Preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced or 220C conventional.
10. Roast the duck halves for 15-20 minutes. Turn on the grill element for the last five minutes until the skin is crisp and the ducks are hot.
11. Gently warm the duck vinaigrette on the stove.
12. Slice or tear the duck into pieces. Place the oranges on your plates and then top with duck. Drop on a handful of watercress, dust with the cocoa nibs, drizzle over the vinaigrette and serve.
Drink a softly textured tempranillo
Dark chocolate truffles with pistachio and almond praline
These dark chocolate truffles are beautiful bittersweet treats, and make perfect little gifts.
1. A melon baller dipped in hot water makes the process of creating evenly sized truffles that little bit easier.
2. The nuts need to be warm when they go into the caramel, if they’ve cooled down too much, quickly flash them through the oven before adding.
400g dark chocolate
55g liquid glucose
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
50g cocoa nibs, roughly ground
150g blanched almonds
150g shelled pistachios
280g castor sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 150C fan-forced or 170C conventional.
2. To make the praline, spread the almonds out on a baking tray and roast until they are lightly golden, about six minutes. Add the pistachios and warm through for two minutes. Set aside but don’t cool down before adding to the caramel.
3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix the sugar with 60 millilitres of water. Bring to the boil and cook to a medium to dark caramel. Be careful with the caramel, as it is very hot.
4. Tip the warm nuts into the caramel, stirring through to thoroughly coat. Tip out onto a lined tray and set aside to cool. Once set, crush the praline to a textured powder using a mortar and pestle.
5. Blitz the chocolate in a food processor until a gravelly texture.
6. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and glucose and bring to the boil. Pour into the food processor with the chocolate and blitz until the chocolate has melted. Add the butter and blitz again until a smooth ganache is formed.
7. Tip the ganache into a bowl and cool slightly. Fold through half the praline and pour into a 20 x 10 centimetre container lined with cling wrap. Set overnight at room temperature.
8. Using a spoon dipped in hot water, scoop out walnut-sized balls of ganache and roll into balls. You can also slice rectangles of ganache and gently roll into egg or barrel shapes. Dip the truffles half into the cocoa nibs and half into the remaining praline.
Makes about 40
Drink Pedro Ximenez sherry
Date, sesame and cocoa nib delights
These are a deliciously healthy treat with an added hit of protein, a perfect snack on the go.
100g sesame seeds
100g black sesame seeds
100g pumpkin seeds
50g almond meal
30g chia seeds
200g fleshy dates, pitted
2 tbsp tahini
2 tsp salt flakes
50g coconut oil
1½ tbsp dark cocoa
1 heaped tsp ground ginger
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
50g cocoa nibs
1. Toast the white sesame seeds lightly in a dry frying pan over medium heat until they colour a little and start to crackle. Set aside to cool.
2. Add all the sesame seeds and the pumpkin seeds to a food processor and process until a coarse powder. Add the almond meal, chia, dates, tahini and salt and pulse until a coarse mix.
3. In a small saucepan, briefly warm the honey and coconut oil with the cocoa and spices and stir until combined.
4. Add the honey mix to the seed mix in the food processor and blend to form a smooth paste. Chill the mix for 20 minutes to firm up.
5. Roll the mix into small balls and flatten them into the cocoa nibs to coat. Store in an airtight container somewhere cool.