There is a surplus of savory recipes in this line-up, and far too few that feature chocolate. Sweets are my secret weapon to gain friends and influence people (now not so secret, but the technique will, I'm confident, lose none of its effectiveness) -- so I've been forced to improvise.
And so I did something to Marcella Hazan's 1973 recipe for Risotto alla Pamigiana (Risotto with Parmesan Cheese) that may be sacrilege to those who believe that oozing cheese is the mark of good risotto. But one bite of my Risotto al Cioccolato, slow-cooked Arborio rice blended with dark chocolate and layered with strawberries in their own syrup and liqueur-spiked whipped cream, and I'm sure they will find it in their hearts to forgive me.
It's best paired with a glass of fine prosecco, perhaps something from Carpené Malvolti, the original producer of sparkling Italian wine, which my guest had the good sense to bring.
Watch the video for the excellent, chocolaty adventure...
Risotto al Cioccolato from Nora Leah on Vimeo.
Risotto al Cioccolato
When the weather demands it, you might also serve this hot, perhaps with a crisp Italian cookie on the side instead of fresh strawberries.
6-7 cups of water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
6 ounces dark chocolate (60% cocoa and up)
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 1 teaspoon (approximately)
1 pint cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white chocolate liqueur, such as Godiva (optional)
1 pint strawberries, sliced very thin
- In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the water to a steady simmer. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the rice and stir to coat. Saute lightly and add 1/2 cup of simmering water. As the rice dries out, continue adding simmering water, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir frequently to make sure the rice doesn't stick. Continue until all the water is absorbed and the rice is quite soft and creamy. After you've added about half the water, stir in the sugar. (You may not need all 7 cups of water. As you get to the end, add just 1/4 cup of water at a time, to avoid drowning the risotto.)
- While the risotto is cooking, prepare the strawberries. Sprinkle sliced strawberries with about 1 teaspoon sugar (or more, if the strawberries are tart) and about 2 tablespoons of water. Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- When the rice is finished cooking (it will take about 30 minutes), place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high y until melted, 30 seconds at a time, stirring every 30 or 15 seconds. (It will take 60 to 80 seconds.) Add melted chocolate, vanilla extract, and 1/2 pint cream to rice and stir well. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- When ready to serve, whip the remaining 1/2 pint cream with an electric mixer (add 2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur or 1 teaspoons sugar, if desired). Arrange risotto in martini or other glasses: a layer of risotto, followed by a layer of strawberries, another layer of risotto, and topped with plenty of whipped cream.