For the last 10 months, while obeying stay-at-home orders, you’ve been through sourdough fever, had bake-offs—banana bread, cakes, cookies—via Zoom, tried your hand at Dalgona coffee, and learned how to make homemade pasta. Your cooking skills have improved during COVID, right? So give this a try: chocolate risotto. The calendar tells us it’s love month: chocolate is an amore ingredient, and with a few simple steps this chocolate risotto will conquer the hearts of both young and old.
Risotto at its most basic is rice cooked in broth. There can be no rush in making risotto; it requires constant, slow stirring. A good risotto begins with the right rice, and there are three main varieties from which to choose: arborio, carnarolo, and vialone nano. All three are high in amylopectin, the necessary starch that dissolves in the cooking process (hence the constant stirring) that gives risotto its characteristic creaminess. For any good risotto, you’ll also need patience, a wide pot, and a wooden spoon.
350 grams of rice: arborio, carnarolo, or vialone nano
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of white wine
2 litres of hot vegetable stock (Tip: Have a little extra as sometimes more liquid is required. Hot stock is essential, as cold stock will result in undercooked grains. While homemade stock is preferable, store-bought low-sodium stock works fine.)
100 grams of good-quality dark chocolate + some for grating as garnish
Knob of butter
Heat a base of olive oil in the pot and toast the rice for a few minutes until slightly translucent.
Add the white wine, which will be quickly absorbed by the rice, infusing it with the wine’s essence.
Gradually add ladles of hot stock, one at a time. The key is to gently simmer the rice while stirring (once every 30 seconds is good, and incorporate all the risotto, even along the edges of the pan), making sure the liquid is absorbed before adding more.
Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. Once most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is nearing al dente texture—fully cooked yet somewhat firm to the bite—add the melted chocolate to the rice and mix.
Remove the cooked risotto from the heat, add a knob of butter, and serve immediately (otherwise it will become clumpy and gooey). Sprinkle grated chocolate on each dish.
Risotto generally takes 25 minutes to cook but that will vary slightly depending on the stove and pan. Don’t try to speed up the cooking process by raising the heat—you’ll end up with rice that is sticky on the outside and raw on the inside.
Italians are known for their cooking—and not just the nonnas; the strapped-for-time at-home cooks have an indispensable kitchen appliance that makes them cooking superheroes. The machine is the Thermomix, basically a food processor that also cooks and stirs (in addition to kneading dough or mixing batter). The Thermomix has been a phenomenon in Europe since it was produced in the 1970s and is just now beginning to catch on in North America. A one-appliance wonder, with thousands of tested and tasty recipes, it even looks great on a kitchen counter. It offers beginner cooks plenty of handholding and assurance that, by following the directions, they’ll make good food; for busy folks, the appliance is like an extra pair of hands in the kitchen. A tailored chocolate risotto recipe for Thermomix is here.
Chocolate risotto—stovetop method or in the Thermomix—is a treat to sweetness reserved for the people we love. Pair it with the effervescent red wine Lambrusco, and you have yourself one lovable meal.