“So what convinced you to sacrifice good chocolate to a jam?” Nadine said. I had to laugh. My friend Nadine is a certifed chocoholic, as am I, and like most chocoholics, tends to like her chocolate in its purest form: chocolate. Whether it be melted into a cake center, heated as a drink, or a sweet square morsel after dinner, good quality chocolate is so purely indulgent, in and of itself, that it seems the ultimate in lily gilding to gussy it up with fruit, liqueur or other flavorings. That said, there is a long history of combining chocoalte with almost every flavor under the sun: fruit, of course, and other sweet things, but also nuts, cheese, chiles and bacon. (I make a fabulous cayenne-dusted rich chocolate truffle; someday it will not be 100 degrees in my kitchen and I’ll make them again.) I like chocolate in savory dishes, like this bean & pumpkin molé and I like chocolate with booze (especially chocolate booze!) but mostly I like my chocolate like all chocoholics: straight up.
So what convinced me to try a raspberry-chocolate jam? Well, I had about a pound of wild wineberries left from my Battle with the Backyard Pricker Bushes (2010 Edition). This year’s wild wineberry preserves failed to set, despite two attempts (leaving me with 6 jars of wild wineberry syrup), so I was looking for a different recipe to try. In paging through Mes Confitures, looking for inspiration, there were quite a few intriguing flavor combinations: raspberry with white peach (but it’s just a wee bit early for peaches yet), raspberry with lemon and lemongrass (sadly, I did not grow lemongrass this year), raspberry with litchi and rose water (it’s too hot to think about sourcing litchi fruit, let alone rose water) and… raspberry with chocolate. I had a couple of Ghiradelli 70% dark chocolate bars in the fridge, which I had planned on melting and dipping these caramels into (talk about gilding the lily), but had decided that they were perfect as they were. This is how recipes are born, people: a strange combination of the season, the contents of the pantry (or fridge), and the temperature of both the kitchen and my temperment.
And the results? Well, I have to say that the texture was a pleasant surprise. I was not sure how well chocolate would translate to a jam: would it be lumpy, too syrupy, not cohesive, separate and watery? None of those things, actually. The jam is very smooth and spreadable – a little stiff, but I suspect that is due to the refrigeration; allowed to come to room temperature it would probably be similar to a good quality peanut butter, with a smoother texture. And the taste? Well…it’s good, don’t get me wrong: there is little that is bad about Ghiradelli and wild raspberries. But the marriage of the two flavors seems to have diminished each, rather than adding up to more than the sum of their parts. The surprising winey tartness of the berries, that hint of wild, is lost in the stronger flavor of the chocolate, while the melting, cocao butter mouthfeel of the chocolate is lost to the firmer texture of the fruit jam. Like I said: the flavor is good, very good, in fact, as an indulgent addition to my usual morning peanut butter toast, but I would not call it swoonworthy; I’m not standing at the open door of the fridge eating it out of the jar with a spoon. Nadine and I both agreed that it would make a great cake filling, or fabulous crêpes. Now I just need to dig up that easy crêpe recipe someone sent me ages ago…
Adapted from Raspberry with Chocolate in Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber
- 1 and 1/8 lbs (500 g) red raspberries (I used foraged wild wineberries)
- 3/4 cup raw sugar (organic turbinado)
- juice of 1 small lemon (about 3 tbsp)
- pinch sea salt
- 4 and 1/2 oz (125 g) extra bittersweet (68% cocoa) chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 70%), broken into chunks
- Day 1. Pick over the raspberries and discard any that are bruised or molding. If you can avoid rinsing the berries, do, to retain as much flavor as possible (I always rinse the wild wineberries, as they are quite sticky and attractive to many bugs; they are very fragile, so I rinse by submerging the berries, in a colander, in a large bowl full of cold water). Put the raspberries through a food mill (fine disk) or fine sieve to eliminate seeds.
- In a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, combine raspberry pulp, lemon juice, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring gently and skimming if necessary. Add chocolate, turn off the heat, and stir until chocolate is melted. Transfer to a heat-safe bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight.
- Day 2. Transfer the raspberry-chocolate mixture to a medium saucepan and return to a boil. Continue to boil, over medium-high heat, for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching the chocolate. Cook until 220 degrees F or when a spoon scraped across the bottom of the pan leaves a visible stripe. Pour into a clean glass jar, seal, and allow to cool at room temperature. Store refrigerated once jam has cooled.
Yields about 1 and 1/2 cups.
- In Mes Confitures, this is not a refrigerator jam; I just find it hard to believe that the recipe, with this amount of chocolate, is safe for pantry storage. Granted, weight-for-weight, there is much more raspberry in this jam than chocolate, and with the addition of lemon juice, it should be quite acidic (finished chocolate generally having a neutral, or low-acid pH), but the preserve is also quite dense, making successful water-bath canning unlikely. To play it safe, I’m storing this in the fridge.
- I cut the recipe amount in half and cut the sugar down quite a bit. The original recipe called for: 2 and 1/4 lbs (1 kg) raspberries, 3 and 1/2 cups (750 g) sugar, juice of 1 lemon, and 9 oz (250 g) dark chocolate (68% cacao).
- The second day of cooking is apparently for ensuring a smooth combination of fruit & chocolate; I agree that the combination as made has shown no separation and is nicely smooth.
Store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Summer, or year-round, made with frozen fruit.