On the way to St. Lucia, I was looking at our hotel website and was of course perusing photos of the restaurants, bars, and food. I saw a photo of the head chef, and he had links to two recipes – I assumed they were dishes served at one of the hotel restaurants.
I sent myself both of these recipes via email, since I didn’t think I’d be cooking while on vacation, but one thing really stood out to me. In the ingredient list for a mahi-mahi dish was cocoa vinegar – and only 1/2 teaspoon at that. I was so intrigued. I’d never heard of such a vinegar. But I knew I’d be bringing it back with me, thinking it was a product the hotel sold.
Alas, there is no such product. I’m making this long story very short, but after attempting to ask store owners, waiters, and so forth, I finally figured out that it’s made by the chef at our hotel. And there’s no cocoa vinegar factory.
At our last dinner at the hotel, the nice chef who had put up with me pestering him about this vinegar came swooping in with a little of his cocoa vinegar just for me! I tasted it with bread. It was just as I’d hoped – chocolatey, but not sweet. I’d really wished he’d bottled me up some for a fee, but I was still very honored that he’d remembered, especially because of our communication issue.
After returning home, I scoured the internet looking for cocoa vinegar recipes, but to no avail. There is a common chocolate balsamic vinegar that is used more for desserts, but no cocoa vinegar. So I figured out I’d try to figure this out on my own. I was determined.
First, I bought cacao nibs.
Then I bought a new vinegar because it was a good excuse to buy one.
I measured out 1/4 cup of cacao nibs and placed them in a jar of a mini blender and blended them up.
Then I placed them in a clean bottle and added the 8.5 ounce bottle of white balsamic vinegar.
I shook the mixture well, covered the bottle, and placed it in my pantry.
After one week, I removed the bottle from my pantry. I placed some cheesecloth inside a funnel placed in a clean jar, and proceeded to strain the cacao nibby vinegar.
It smelled chocolatey. And, it was a pretty pink – just like a red wine vinegar!
Verdict: It is delicious. It is seriously chocolatey, but still a strong vinegar. There is a sweetness to the vinegar, but I’m not sure if the sweetness is from the cacao nibs or from the white balsamic I used, because I didn’t taste it first, unfortunately. But it’s not too sweet. It’s chocolate vinegar! I ended up with about 8 ounces of cocoa vinegar after all of the straining.
I used the cacao vinegar on a simple romaine salad topped with toasted pine nuts. I think an avocado would be fabulous as well, with some crumbled goat cheese. And think of the possibilities of this cocoa vinegar drizzled over different varieties of bruschetta…….
If anyone is interested in the chef’s spectacular mahi-mahi recipe, here is the link.