Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Features

February 3, 2014

Valentine's Day chocolate

Don't leave chocolate to the end â€" infuse the meal

A box of chocolates? A slice of chocolate cake? So very been-there-done-that.

This Valentine's Day, up the ante with your expression of love via chocolate. Rather than simply end the meal with a sweet hit of cocoa, why not use it as the inspiration for the entire menu? Start with slices of soft goat cheese sprinkled with a blend of unsweetened cocoa powder and chili powder, then topped with a Peppadew pepper.

Then move on to our flank steak rubbed with ground cocoa nibs, coffee and pumpkin seeds. Accompany that with a warm, soft polenta spiked with chopped dates and cocoa butter. Then finish the meal with a simple chocolate tart, chocolate martinis, or a plate of dates and figs to dunk in a pot of hot fudge sauce.

COCOA-COFFEE FLANK STEAK

Start to finish: 2 hours 20 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings: 2

1 tablespoon cocoa nibs

1 teaspoon ground coffee

1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1 tablespoon toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 ounces flank steak

Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the cocoa nibs, coffee, chili powder and pepitas until a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the oil and salt. Rub the spice mixture over all the steak, then set it on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight.

When ready to cook, heat a skillet to medium-high. When the pan is hot, coat it with cooking spray and add the steak. Sear for 3 minutes per side, or until cooked to desired doneness. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then thinly slice.

Nutrition information per serving: 430 calories; 220 calories from fat (51 percent of total calories); 24 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 50 g protein; 580 mg sodium.

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