Jazz Up Traditional Pesto With A Hint Of Chocolate

Pesto and ingredients on table with wooden board
Pesto and ingredients on table with wooden board - sweet marshmallow/Shutterstock

Pesto is a classic and versatile sauce -- use it as a base for your next pasta dish or spread it onto a slice of toasted bread before crafting a delicious Italian sub. TikTok even educated the masses on the magic of adding pesto to fried eggs for an extra savory breakfast dish.

If you are chronically online, you've no doubt seen the viral TikTok of one user preparing homemade pesto -- the creator says to her followers, "Call me crazy, but I've never really liked store bought pesto." Other creators have begun stitching her video with a hint of sarcasm, then sharing their own experiences that they actually deem as "crazy."

While the context of the video has certainly become the joke of the week, the original creator does have a point -- when you prepare your own pesto, you can experiment with a variety of fresh ingredients and interesting additions to your pesto that may seem a bit out of the ordinary...like chocolate. Now that truly does sound "crazy." But before you turn your nose up at the idea of adding everyone's favorite candy to your pasta sauce, consider just how well a few dark chocolate shavings could elevate the notes in your basil-based sauce. Dark chocolate's bitter nature and muted sweetness can be utilized in savory dishes to elevate the more subtle flavors within a dish, especially an oil-based sauce like pesto with ingredients like nuts and basil, which pair extremely well with chocolate.

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This Pesto Recipe Has An Extra Special Secret Ingredient

Pesto pasta in black bowl on table
Pesto pasta in black bowl on table - Ermak Oksana/Shutterstock

A traditional pesto recipe calls for ingredients like fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and a sprinkle of parmesan. When all the ingredients are combined (traditionally with a mortar and pestle, but a food processor works just as well), you are left with a burst of fragrant and savory flavors that taste like the quintessential Italian countryside.

If you're looking to experiment with a classic pesto recipe for an even more robust flavor profile, consider adding an ounce of 99% dark chocolate and some lemon zest. Chocolate will accentuate the robust nuttiness that the ground pine nuts bring to the pesto, while the basil/oil combo will appreciate the subtle hints of smokiness from the chocolate's complex profile. The citrus element will bring out notes of acidity and will balance out the bitterness in the cacao. Just as Mexican-style mole sauce utilizes dark chocolate to balance sweet and spicy, adding chocolate to pesto will provide a similar experience, especially when you turn the heat up a notch or two. Try adding pink peppercorns, for example, for an extra touch of texture and spice. How can you use this chocolate pesto sauce? Well, it's great to add to pasta, dips, sandwiches -- basically, anywhere you enjoy classic pesto sauce.

More Ways To Pair Chocolate And Basil

Chocolate, basil, and fruit on black background
Chocolate, basil, and fruit on black background - A-lesa/Getty Images

You've no doubt heard of the classic pairing of chocolate and mint, but did you know that other herbs work just as well with chocolate? Mixing up the sweet confection with pesto may sound out of this world until you remember that basil and chocolate are actually a delicious match thanks to the subtle floral notes in the herb that allow dark chocolate's subtle sweetness to soar. Lots of artisanal chocolate makers experiment with different forms of basil chocolate -- Montana Farmacy, for example, makes a dried strawberry and basil dark chocolate bar, while chocolatiers in Napa Valley sell a popular lavender basil and black currant dark chocolate bar. Bakers also enjoy utilizing basil and chocolate in their confections for a more elevated flavor profile. Don't be surprised if a basil brownie or a scoop of basil chocolate chip ice cream becomes your next favorite dessert.

If you're hoping to stay in a more savory place, consider making a chocolate, basil, and brie grilled cheese. One TikTok user shared the recipe for this "adult spin on a classic" grilled cheese, calling the results "sinfully good." The sandwich combines a soft, sweet brie with chunks of chocolate and basil leaves in a pan, grilling the contents together until they have fully melted. One look at that cross-section of gooey cheese and sweet chocolate and you'll be begging to take a bite. Not to mention the added crunch of fresh basil definitely adds a much-needed note of freshness. So next time you think chocolate pesto sounds a little strange, just remember it's not that uncommon of a pairing after all.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.