Chocolate Chili

dsc_1259RECIPE #296, DAY #498


ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Chocolate Chili” (I think) from a book I borrowed from the library years and years ago, Vegetarian Chili, which might have actually been The Vegetarian Chili Cookbook by Robin Robertson*

TIMING: 1 hour

DIFFICULTY: Easy enough

TOOLS: A soup pot and a ladle

COOK TYPE: Stovetop

HEALTH: Chili is one of my favorite foods for a few reasons, one of them being that it is a healthy meal all in one bowl. With its one-two punch of meat (or soy) and beans, its abundance of veggies and tomatoes, and its aromatics and spices… it’s just such a winner! And it’s even easy to make vegetarian or heighten (health-wise) with some corn bread and a handful of cilantro.

EXPERIENCE: I make a lot of chili, all winter long, so I have a lot of chili recipes stored up. When thinking about chili for Halloween night, I realized I was in the mood for my chocolate chili. Of course, we started eating this chili back when we were vegetarians, so I would have originally used a package of Quorn crumbles or something, instead of the meat, but now I make it with beef or bison (which matches its deep flavor profile).

It’s tastes like a fairly standard chili, just on the darker side. It is not very sweet, and it may not even be very spicy (if your jalapenos are as mild as mine were this time), but it still makes for a complex and tasty bowl of chili.

NOTES: To take this back to a vegetarian chili, just omit the ground meat and, in step 5, add a package of soy crumbles (like Boca).

If you can’t find plain crushed tomatoes, you can use fire-roasted.

If you can’t find savory, use oregano.

You could also add some sweet potato or butternut squash with–or instead of–the carrot.

You may also leave out the tomatoes altogether. I can never bring myself to leave the tomatoes out of a chili, but I am told that doing so is perfectly authentic.


  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon safflower oil. Add 1 diced onion, 1 diced carrot, and 2 cloves pressed garlic and cook until veggies are softened.
  2. Add 1 pound ground beef or bison and cook until browned.
  3. Add 3 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 teaspoon savory, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate and work in for 1 minute. Add 1 cup water and 1 cup apple juice or cider and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Add 2 cans pinto beans, 1-2 diced jalapenos, a 32 oz can crushed tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer another 30 minutes until thickened and melded.
  6. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds and optional shaved chocolate.


Serve with either corn bread, corn chips, baked potatoes, or macaroni, as well as optional cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, and/or brown sugar. If it’s Halloween, you’re also going to want some Butterbeer.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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