Chocolate and Chili Pepper? You Bet! Food Hacks for Everyday Flavor Boosts

Chocolate and Chili Depending on how long you have been creating in the kitchen, you may or may not have already picked up an impressive laundry list of "tricks" to improve flavor in your favorite dishes.  We all know...

Chocolate and Chili
Chocolate and Chili

Depending on how long you have been creating in the kitchen, you may or may not have already picked up an impressive laundry list of "tricks" to improve flavor in your favorite dishes.  We all know that a little salt and olive oil in pasta water helps noodles not stick and improves the pasta's flavor.  We also know that certain ingredient combinations can make the difference between a "ho hum" disappointment and a "something to write home about" success.  But have you ever wondered why these combinations make such a big difference in the flavor of your cooking?

Let us delve a little deeper into a few easy food "hacks" guaranteed to boost the flavor of your favorite foods, making sure that your taste buds are never underwhelmed.

Chili, Chocolate, Cinnamon
Chili, Chocolate, Cinnamon

Chocolate  

We all love it, some of us more than others. Truth be told, there just aren't many out there who don't crave a chocolate treat from time to time, which means that whipping up the ultimate in decadent chocolate flavor is a frequent goal for many. Yet, do you sometimes find yourself a little disappointed with a batch of chocolate chip cookies, or a pan of fudge brownies because the chocolate just didn't seem chocolaty enough?

You are not alone. Even the world's finest baking chocolate can fall flat occasionally, leaving a cook to wonder if there is a way to ramp up that seductive flavor in all their favorite chocolate dishes. Luckily, there is!  Believe it or not (just like with the rest of our flavorful food hacks), pushing your favorite chocolate creation to a higher level of pure chocolate satisfaction is easier than you might think.

With the addition of a little red chili pepper, or a slightly spicy cinnamon twist, you can make all of your chocolate creations more indulgently chocolate! If cinnamon, or spicy pepper are not your cup of tea--there's always a "cup of Joe" instead.  A coffee/chocolate combination is downright magical in chocolate confections, or baked goods.  But remember, it doesn't take much to bring out the intense nature of the cocoa found in your best chocolate dishes. Chocolate chip cookies with 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, chocolate frosting with 3 teaspoons of powdered espresso dissolved into 1 1/2 teaspoon of water or even the ultimate Winter treat of hot cocoa made with real milk and a pinch of freshly ground cinnamon will remind you what chocolate should taste like.

Tomatoes on the Vine and Cilantro
Tomatoes on the Vine and Cilantro

Tomato 

Tomatoes seem like one of those ingredients that go with everything. Likewise, there are many herbs that find a happy home in a tomato sauce, or tomato based dish. Yet, often times it is easy to loose the quintessential tomato flavor you love when cooking a tomato based dish with several other ingredients. While you want to taste the other ingredients--you don't want to loose the sweet, tangy essence of your tomatoes either. To keep that fresh-picked tomato flavor, rely on the well rounded combination of tomato and parsley, or tomato and cilantro.

Both parsley and cilantro often find themselves the ignored sibling in the the spice family. A genuine shame, since both herbs work to brighten and balance flavors in countless dishes (especially tomato dishes). Just as with citrus, parsley and cilantro fall in the "bitter" category and work to add the full range of the tastes to your savory favorites.

Don't worry, adding parsley, or cilantro to your favorite dish won't over power other ingredients.  Parsley added at the end of a sauce's simmer time will in fact, accentuate all the ingredients including garlic, basil, or rosemary. In a salsa, cilantro helps to marry the sweetness of tomato with the pungent tang of onion and helps both taste even more themselves than ever. Once you try adding parsley, or cilantro to your favorite dishes, you will never again consider either as lowly plate garnish.

Fruit
Fruit

Fruit

They say most of us don't get enough fruits and vegetables in our diet. Maybe that is because we've been eating them wrong! When it comes to implementing more fruits in our diet, you might find your addition more appealing when combined with just a pinch of salt.

Recently, more and more foods have begun to rely on the delicious balance of sweet and salty to really increase flavor in the end product. Even while eating something as simple as sliced fruit, that balance can help almost any fruit you consume taste even more delectable. With a small amount of salt sprinkled on everything from watermelon, to Asian pears, intense fruit flavor is easily achieved without baking.

Get creative with your salts and try different kinds to find the perfect balance. Watermelon goes great with flake sea salt, or flake Himalayan pink salt. Guava "pops" with a hint of finishing salt, mixed with a small amount of sugar and ground anise, and both pears and most melons go wonderfully with not only most salt types, but can also be paired with a briny prosciutto to bring that salty balance to the sweetness of the fruit.

With these few flavor food hacks, you too can bring the "wow" factor back to your favorite foods.  Take your cooking to the next level, in both flavor and quality, with Cilantro, The Cooks Shop.  Contact us now and see how all the amazing products we carry can help!