How to Be More Creative with Chocolate in the Kitchen

If you never do anything with chocolate other than unwrap bars and enjoy snacking on the stuff, you’ll still benefit from antioxidants and tasty flavors all life long.

But if you want to deepen your relationship with this wondrous substance, there are plenty of exciting ways to incorporate it into your daily culinary activities. Here are eight simple strategies for being more creative with chocolate in the kitchen.

Experiment with different forms of chocolate.

There is so much more to chocolate than rectangular (or ahem...square) bars, and utilizing chocolate in its different forms is a simple way to up your culinary creativity. From cacao nibs to cocoa powder to couverture chocolate, there’s a huge variety of chocolate forms—each of which is well suited to different baking and/or candy-making projects.

Learn how to melt chocolate.

Mastering the art of chocolate melting opens up whole new worlds in the kitchen. Once you can melt chocolate successfully, you’ll be able to create a huge range of treats, from truffles to soufflés and basically any other project that involves decorating with or dipping into chocolate.

Don’t just eat chocolate; drink it too.  

Chocolate milk, milkshakes, and hot chocolate aren’t just for kids. There are plenty of creative, grown-up recipes for drinkable chocolate. To get started, check out these unique hot chocolate recipes, which include the likes of Slow Cooker Caramel Hot Chocolate, Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate, and Nutella Hot Chocolate.

Use it in savory dishes.

Most of us tend to think of chocolate as a sweet treat, but in reality it pairs just as well with savory meals. Experiment with incorporating small amounts of melted dark chocolate in veggie dishes, chili and other hearty soups, a wide range of Italian dishes, and so on.

Incorporate chocolate into sauces.

Chocolate adds a burst of rich, delectable flavor to a variety of sauces. From Mexican mole sauce to chocolate sauce for an ice cream sundae, dipping sauce for fruit, fondue, and even Dark Chocolate Marinara Sauce, there are tons of sweet and savory ways to incorporate chocolate into sauce.

Drizzle it over baked goods and other dishes.

A chocolate drizzle adds a lovely finishing touch to a huge variety of baked goods and other dishes. Melt down some dark chocolate and experiment with drizzling it over cakes, cookies, brownies, fresh fruit, and even some more savory fare such as nuts, popcorn, roasted cauliflower, pasta, or brie.

Mix it into your favorite pastries and baked goods.

Rare is the pastry that doesn’t pair well with chocolate. Try adding some chopped chunks or a chocolatey swirl to your favorite recipes for banana bread, cookies, cheesecake, bread pudding, blondies, bars, pies, and so on. (Just be aware this may involve some trial and error as you learn how to adjust your ratios to accommodate the presence of the chocolate.)

Add it to your breakfast.

Chocolate is associated much more with post-dinner dessert than with the first meal of the day, but it actually pairs well with a lot of breakfast dishes. Consider blending it into smoothies, topping a bowl of oatmeal or cereal with chocolate flakes, or cooking chocolate into pancakes, muffins, and waffles.

From chocolatey sauces and breakfasts to decadent hot chocolate recipes, chocolate can be put to a use in a number of surprising (and delicious) ways. By experimenting with different chocolate types and techniques, you’ll enhance your creativity in the kitchen and delight your taste buds in the process.