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Iron Chef America: Chocolate & Coconut Battle

I finally got around to watching the "Chocolate and Coconut" Battle on Iron Chef America. Normally I'm only a moderately interested ICA fan -- I vastly preferred the original -- however, the fact that chocolate was one of the secret ingredients had me hooked. Even more interesting was that the chefs (Batali and challenger Laiskonis) had to prepare at least 3 savoury dishes using chocolate andd coconut. Mmmmmm.
While watching the show I was just thinking to myself that mixing cocoa with non-traditional ingredients would be really interesting (I had just finished off another of Vosges Haut Chocolate's Exotic Chocolate Bars) when the judges were introduced, and Katrina Markhoff, founder of Vosges Haut Chocolate, turned out to be one of them. Katrina, who happens to be blessed with stunning looks, in addition to her incredible talent at combining chocolate with different flavors, makes some of the most interesting chocolate bars I've ever tasted. (Now, I just wish that she would use organic and FTC cacao). She seemed to be a very appropriate judge for tasting the savoury chocolate creations. Her comments during the judging phase were mostly focused on the combination and layering of various spices and flavors with the chocolate.
As for the battle itself, I was disappointed. Both chefs made these complex dishes in which it looked like the taste of chocolate and coconut was overwhelmed by other ingredients. Don't get me wrong: I would have been happy to eat any of those dishes, but they lacked focus on the secret ingredients. I was especially hoping for better from Laiskonis' performance since I expected him to show the flair and creativity worthy of Bon Apetit's Pastry Chef of the Year. He did make his signature eggshell dessert, though and did show more creativity than Batali (but the judges didn't think so).
Both chefs made a hot chocolate as part of one dish: Batali made a thick drinking chocolate from cream (a "dipping chocolate" -- you really don't want to try to drink it like a regular drinking chocolate or cocoa) to dip churros in. Laiskonis, on the other hand, made a more traditional hot chocolate but used Hawaiin red salt with it. His use of salt on the dishes was interesting -- wish I could have tasted the hot chocolates.

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