Cocoa Penne with Spiced Steak in a Chilli Chocolate Cream

She rubs her lower lip softly, repeatedly, caught in a fragment of thought. Lips part ever so slightly. Exhaling slowly, she closes her eyes for a brief moment. A moment to transport you anywhere.

To the vacation of still turquoise waters and balmy nights where once upon a time you gave yourself fully

To standing on a stage in a black toga, putting years and sacrifice no one will know of, behind you.

To the warm embrace of a lover so woefully wrong for you, yet one you know you will never forget.

Moments of laughing so hard, you rolled on the floor and your belly ached for hours after.

To never making amends with a friend still so dear- that one pivotal opportunity long passed.

To all the words you shouted that day when grace should have held you back.

A moment before diamonds and mortgages.

A moment when the skinny jeans were your perfect size.

These moments of remembrance, of joy, regret, hunger, pride, emptiness, lust and laughter. Moments when only that very moment mattered.

I can not think of a moment compiled of all these moments when chocolate didn’t feature. I know it sounds trite and perhaps a tad comical, but it is the truth. Even when the skinny jeans clung to my curves in a way that made me proud to strut out with them in a tight fitting top to match, there was chocolate. Peppermint aero and chocolate log (more confectionary, I confess) for late nights studying. Lindt chocolate bon bons from a loving, sometimes repentant boyfriend. Then slabs of 70 % cocoa chocolate from all over the world, eaten a block at a time. I’ve never been one to eat a slab of good chocolate in one go. I don’t think it has anything to do with being frugal, which even if I were, greed would surpass sense, I’m certain. Maybe it has to do with being satisfied. Endorphins spin around and rush through the bloodstream, bouncing up and down teasing the brain and the mouth lets out a little giggle, lips spreading into a grin, cheeks flush.

Makes your re-think the price of that organic, fairtrade 80 % cocoa bar, doesn’t it? So exceptionally worth it.

Now, I don’t need to convince you of the worthiness of this magnificent elixir. But chocolate in pasta? Cocoa has been used in savoury sauces in restaurants and homes for years and years. What do you make of a rich cocoa penne and a savoury chocolate chilli sauce brought together with luscious fresh cream and topped with slices of melt-in-the-mouth spiced steak?

We received a small package of cocoa penne by Hotel Chocolat bundled together in their Chef’s Collection Adventurous pack during the PlatetoPage workshop in Germany, and along with the savoury chocolate glaze for red meat, I whipped up this dish on a whim. The penne fills the nose with a rich bitter- sweet chocolate perfume; one can hardly imagine it isn’t sweet. Combined with tender, spiced steak (which I had left over from the previous night), a chocolate sauce made lush with cream and a generous sprinkling of chilli flakes, this is an endorphin releasing, beat-the-blues-and-the-fact-that-the-skinny-jeans-no-longer-fit salvation in a bowl.



Serves 4

150-200g cocoa pasta, cooked according to package instructions

4 T chocolate glaze

salt, to taste

150 ml fresh cream

4-5 thinish slices steak per serving

generous grinding chilli flakes (I used ordinary chilli and smoked chilli) or finely chopped fresh red chilli


In a pan on the stove on low heat, heat the glaze and add the cream. Mix well

Taste and season with salt if necessary. Add chilli and mix again.

Heat steak slices till warm.

Portion pasta in serving bowls. Pour chocolate chilli cream over pasta and toss.

Arrange slices of steak on top, and add another grinding of chilli.

Serve and enjoy immediately.


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