Crazy Chili?

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Wow, I just realized I’ve been on a chocolate kick lately!

Maybe because we “fell backward” and it’s been getting dark a LOT earlier than I would like.

Seriously, Daylight Saving Time… do you really work? Let’s ask the Google…..

Oh, I see.

You DO work. Sort of.

Ok DST. You can stay. For now.

Anywho, let’s talk chili! Now before you start freaking out over the chocolate part of my Chocolate Chili, please note that it’s entirely optional. But I’m telling you, chocolate and chili are the new peanut butter and jelly. The new Brad and Angelina. The new Bert and Ernie.

I first fell in love with this combo at an amazing chili joint in CA. Sadly, the owner passed away in 2009 and the restaurant closed indefinitely.

All he did, all day long, was chili. The menu included over 30 varieties, with a handful selected to feature each day. They rated their chili on a scale of 1-10 for heat factor and would ladle mounds of it into cups, bowls, over fries, in wraps, over hot dogs, etc.

Demon, a 10+ molten concoction, was only ever a taste test for me. But I really miss my chili varieties.

The chili was delicious on its own, but they also had a topping menu with cheeses, sour cream, veggies, garnishes, and (of course) chocolate chips. My husband prompted me to try the chips and after that, I’ve never had chili without chocolate.

My version uses cocoa powder in the spice blend for a subtly sweet flavor. It’s balanced with earthy onion and garlic, and packs a protein punch with two different types of beans.

Now I’m well aware that “REAL” chili doesn’t have beans, but I’m not a big meat eater. This chili itself is actually vegan and you can add whatever toppings you desire. If you don’t consider it true chili then fine. Chili by any other name tastes just as good. 🙂

Chocolate Chili (6 servings)

2 tsp oil of your choice (coconut oil NOT recommended)
1 onion, chopped
3-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed (I used 6)
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 28oz can tomatoes, diced or crushed
1 12oz can tomato sauce
2 12oz cans beans of choice, drained (I used kidney and black)
2-3 tbsp chili powder
1-2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp smoked or regular paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and a tiny pinch of salt, sweat for about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and bell pepper, continue to cook for 5 minutes till the garlic and pepper start to soften.
Time for the spices: chili powder, cumin, cocoa, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne. (The salt and pepper will come later.)
Heat the mixture for a few minutes, stirring, till the spices are warmed through and pungent.
Pour in the can of diced/crushed tomatoes, juice and all, and the can of tomato sauce. Break up any large chunks of tomato with a spoon.
Lower heat and add the drained beans, simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Taste, and salt/pepper as desired.
Simmer for 10 more minutes to let the flavors meld.
Serve hot!

The topping choices for this are endless: while onions, green onions, cilantro, regular cheese, vegan cheese (mmm Daiya!), cornbread croutons, tortilla chips…

I suggest that you serve this up with some extra chocolate for the top, that is THE BEST way to eat this chili. I also added a dollop of strained whole milk yogurt, a few crumbles of Gorgonzola cheese, and chopped cilantro to garnish.

On second thought, I wouldn’t recommend the Gorgonzola. It was too musty flavored with already-kind-of-musty-flavored beans. Cheddar is my preferred cheese choice for this, I just didn’t have any on hand.

Tip: This recipe is fully customizable! Want more veggies? Add more. Want meat? Add meat. No beans? Omit the beans. Want a million dollars? Contemplate your investing options as you eat a bowl of this chili.