Chocolate Spice Trail Dessert
One of my favorite fast chocolate desserts to serve at a dinner party is what I call the Chocolate Spice Trail. This consists of filled mini chocolate cups topped with spices.
My husband Gene and I came up with the idea of mixing chocolate and spices while tasting Advokaat (Dutch egg cognac). We put the Advokaat into mini chocolate cups (Belgian’s call these snobinettes) to taste the Advokaat. Then Gene mentioned that these might be good with a little cardamon on top. I went to the spice cabinet and brought out the cardamon. Then we wanted to try it with cinnamon. “What about something hot and spicy like cayenne pepper? Gene suggested. Before we knew it we had a dozen spices on the table. We were amazed at how each spice changed the taste of the Advokaat and the chocolate. We started serving our spice adventure dessert to friends and they loved it.Advokaat (Dutch “egg cognac”).
Since then we’ve experimented with different fillings (whipped cream, plain Greek yogurt, ice cream, and even cottage cheese), with different spices ( cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cardamon, and cayenne pepper), and even other toppings mixed with the spices (nuts, coconut shavings, and tiny pieces of dried fruit).
To prepare this dessert I put a selection of spices in small shot glasses and arrange them on a tray. Then I place 4-6 mini chocolate cups on a plate for each guest. The last item needed is the filling. Sometimes I have one filling such as whipped cream and other times I give my guests a choice of 2 fillings such as a plain ice cream and plain yogurt. You want a plain flavor filling so that it doesn’t overpower the taste of the spices.
The beauty of this dessert is that guests get to assemble the cups themselves. If it is a small group, I pass around the mini chocolate cups, the fillings, and the tray of spices. If it is a larger group, I place the ingredients on a separate table and invite my guests to get up and make their chocolate spice cups.
Guests love this dessert because 1) it’s interactive, 2) they get to see how spices impact the flavor of chocolate, 3) they get to make their dessert just the way they want it, and 4) it’s all about chocolate.
Thousands of years ago spices were prized above all else and adventurers (think Columbus) traveled the world in search of trade routes. In the new world Aztecs worshipped Chocolate calling it the food of the gods. This recipe combines two of the most historically treasured commodities of the new and old world. Take your guests on a chocolate spice trail adventure at your next dinner party.
- Mini Chocolate Cups – You can purchase the mini chocolate cups online through Amazon. Links to purchase the cups in dark, milk, and white chocolate are below.
- Filling – You can provide one filling or several options. You’ll want a filling that doesn’t overpower the spices. Fillings that work particularly well include whipped cream, plain yogurt, and ice cream. For whipped cream, you can make it from scratch or buy it in a spray can. Plain Greek yogurt works well because it’s rich and think. However, yogurt gives it a tangy taste. You’ll need to use bold spices to offset the taste of the yogurt. Plain vanilla ice cream is another good option. If you want to use a liquor, try Bailey’s Irish cream.
- Spices – Start out by using the spices you have. If you want to expand your selection, go to a spice store and buy fresh spices. Spices lose their flavor strength over time. If you don’t have a spice store nearby, then order spices online. One excellent online source is Penzeys Spices.
- Toppings – You might want to mix your spices with toppings. Possible toppings include nuts (chopped almonds or walnuts), coconut or chocolate shavings, or chopped dried fruit (chopped dried cherries, cranberries, or apricots). These items are available at most grocery stores.