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The Sassy Side of Chocolate

tristanDid you know that chocolate has a sassy side?  It does when used as the surprise ingredient in barbeque sauce.  Just ask the owners of the Tristan restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina.  They have been wowing dinners for years with their signature Savory Lamb Ribs covered in Chocolate BBQ Sauce.  In fact, Chef Cairan Duffy was asked so many times for the recipe, he decided to bottle and sell his tasty creation on-line.  It seems that Duffy was inspired to capture the depth and complexity of mole sauce.  His result is a silky, multilayered flavor wonder that has a decidedly Southern BBQ twist.  The chocolate in his sauce is quite pronounced followed by a rather piquant vinegar note that is exceptional on ribs, pork chops and chicken.  

With a nod to Chef Duffy as my "chocolate Muse",  I thought it would be fun to create my own signature BBQ sauce.

chocolate java lavaAs a beef lover, something less piquant and more akin to that of a bittersweet A-1 sauce seemed more to my taste.  Using a simple tomato base and a liberal splash (or two) of Kahlua to help melt the chocolate bar, my homemade "Chocolate Java Lava" proved to be an exceptional finishing sauce for grilled steaks. The secret culinary weapon in this recipe is Chuao Chocolatier's new Coffee & Anise bar with its rich cocoa expresso flavor notes.  This bar adds amazing depth and dimension without being too sweet or conspicuous.  Chocolate as an ingredient helps transcend a basic BBQ sauce from simple to sassy.



All rights reserved by Sip Smoke Savor, Inc.  We welcome you to link to this article or reprint our original recipe with proper credit to our website:

chocolate java lava  

Chocolate Java Lava BBQ Sauce

Makes about 2 1/2 cups of finishing sauce


Chuao Chocolatier Coffee & Anise Chocolate bar

1 cup tomato sauce + additional for thinning

3 tbls. tomato paste (no salt added)

1/4 medium brown onion finely diced

2-3 cloves of garlic finely diced

Butter to brown onion & garlic

1 tbls. Worcestershire sauce

2 tbls. quality balsamic vinegar

1/2 tbls. olive oil

1/2 tbls. brown sugar

2 tsp. ancho chili powder

1/4 tsp. coriander

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Kahlua for melting chocolate and thinning sauce



Prepare your sauce preferably two days ahead to let flavors blend.  Begin by dicing the onion and garlic.  Brown them in butter.  Add all ingredients except for chocolate.  Simmer on stove for 20 to 30 minutes.  Add a bit more tomato sauce if it becomes too thick.  When the flavors have sufficiently combined, remove from stove.

In a new pan on very low heat, melt a liberal 2 ounces (approximately 2/3s of the whole bar) of the Chuao's Coffee & Anise chocolate bar with a heavy splash of Kahlua.  Stir continually until completely melted, then slowly add the tomato base while you continue to stir.  Thin with Kahlua or water as needed. Adjust to taste. When chocolate has been completely integrated,  pour the BBQ sauce into a jar. It will be quite thick.  Cool completely before capping and refrigerating.

This BBQ sauce will actually thicken even more in the refrigerator so as you are reheating over low heat, thin with 2-3 tbl. Kahlua or water to the desired consistency (sauce is meant to be like "lava").

Liberally oil your grill. Season steaks and cook them to the desired stage.

In the last few minutes of grilling, slather on the BBQ sauce watching the steaks closely so as not to burn. You may also wait until steaks are off the grill to dress them with the sauce. Serve additional sauce in a gravy boat.

**Optional coffee rub adds an extra layer of flavor to steaks.  Mix together:

1 1/2 tbl. finely ground expresso or other rich coffee

1 1/2 tbl. brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder

1 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. coriander

1/8 tsp. cloves

Sprinkle liberally on both sides of steaks 12-24 hours before you expect to grill.  Recipe above will easily cover 6 steaks.

All rights reserved by Sip Smoke Savor, Inc.  We welcome you to link to this article or reprint our original recipe with proper credits to our website: