Smoke Your Chocolate For Richer Desserts Every Time

Humans have been using fire to cook and flavor their food since the Paleolithic era. With around 2 million years of it under our collective belts, it's no wonder we maintain such fond associations with the flavor of smoke, continually seeking out new ways to incorporate it into our culinary endeavors. Smoked meats and smoky cocktails are great, but this flavor isn't only delicious in the savory realm. Sweets and desserts are equally enhanced by smoky notes — and smoking chocolate beautifully illustrates how smoke can transform a well-known flavor into something completely new and unexpected.

Although you may not intuitively pair these two together, if you've eaten a s'more, you've already experienced the delightful combination of smoke and chocolate. Even if you don't like intense smoky flavors, you're likely to appreciate the subtleties of smoked chocolate. That's because the smoking process works to transform the flavor of chocolate, without necessarily imparting strong smoky notes. And since you can smoke chocolate at home, you can modify the process to create something perfectly suited to your taste buds.

How smoking elevates chocolate

While you may think of chocolate as a singular flavor, its journey from seed to beloved sweet treat is quite industrious. The intrinsic complexities of its production inform its flavor, with things such as terroir (just like wine) and how those beans are managed impacting taste. Whether you prefer the bitter notes of dark chocolate or the sweeter taste of milk chocolate, the cacao used to make it has been fermented and roasted in a specific way to make that flavor possible.

Similar to wine and coffee, chocolate's fermentation and roasting processes establish both the universal flavor we know as "chocolate," as well as the wide range of flavor variations that exist within the category. Smoking a particular chocolate picks up its flavor evolution wherever its manufacturer left off, pulling existing flavors into richer, deeper registers and adding warm, smoky notes. Think how delicious a smoked white chocolate will taste paired with caramel — or how complex a sultry, smoky dark chocolate could be.

Use smoked chocolate to make campfire s'more cake pops that conjure cozy memories of time spent huddled with friends around the warmth of an open fire. Revamp your classic chocolate cake with the unmatched depth of flavor smoked chocolate provides. Wherever you choose to incorporate this elevated ingredient, your chocolate treats will be richer for it.

Smoking methods for chocolate

How do you smoke chocolate at home? There are a few ways to go about this, depending on the equipment you have. To keep it from melting, cold smoking is your best friend –and chips are easier to smoke than bars.

If you have a smoker, preheat it to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, and use mild wood pellets like apple, maple, or alder. After a few minutes, blow out the flame and add chocolate to an upper rack. Let the chocolate cold smoke for one to two hours, depending on the intensity of flavor you're looking to produce. The darker the chocolate, the longer the smoke. 

Get a Dutch oven lined with foil, and put light chips in the bottom. Put a disposable metal pie plate over the chips, and then a foil-lined open steaming basket. Add your chocolate to the basket, loosely seal the foil, then put the stove on high heat. After about five minutes, drop that to medium heat and keep smoking for 10-15 minutes.

Once done, you can bake with smoked chocolate right away. To enhance smoky flavors, seal it in an airtight container for several days before use. Wherever you use it, smoked chocolate will add deep and delicious complexity to your desserts!