When it comes to chocolate, most people think it’s meant for only dessert. But for chefs, especially Chopped-caliber chefs, it’s just another ingredient to transform. If they get chocolate in an entree basket — and in the case of the Chocolate Competition episode, they got chocolate items in every single basket — the chefs take on the challenge of creating savory dishes in stride. And the Chopped judges are no different.
In an episode of Chopped After Hours, Maneet, Marc and Aarón entered the Chopped kitchen to cook with the entree basket ingredients: chocolate cake pops, white chocolate cocoa mix, quail and serrano chiles. On the show, the three chef-competitors all seemed to have the most trouble with incorporating the chocolate cake pops, mainly because of their cakey centers. But not so for the judges, who used the pops in a marinade, mole sauce and stuffing — all their dishes proved to be enhanced by the chocolate treat. In the end Ted was amazed by all of their dishes: “I never would have thought cake pops and quail would have been so tasty.”
Maneet, inspired by the South, cooked hot chicken for which she used the cake pops as a marinade and made a baked beans dish that Ted said had a “spice vibe” that made sense for Maneet. Marc used the pops to create a stuffing, which Maneet loved. And Aarón went for it wholeheartedly, jokingly embracing the typecast Mexican chef, and made a cake pop mole that impressed everyone with its depth of flavor. “I felt it was necessary to show people how to do it the right way,” he said, using traditional ingredients like spices and dried chile along with the basket ingredients of the pops and serranos. The flavors Aarón achieved surprised Maneet: “There are these different levels of flavor, even after you finish eating it.”
Click the play button on the video above to watch the entire After Hours episode and to see the dishes Maneet, Marc and Aarón created. Then browse behind-the-scenes images for an insider’s look at the cooking.
Start a conversation with fellow fans and tell FN Dish in the comments below how you would have approached this basket: What would you make out of chocolate cake pops, white chocolate cocoa mix, quail and serrano chiles?
Catch up on past Chopped After Hours episodes by watching all the Web-exclusive battles online.