I went to London a couple of summers ago to visit an old friend. While there, she took me all over the city. I saw many things and tasted some fabulous food. One of those foods was, of course, chocolate. We went to Hotel Chocolat where I tasted chocolate combinations I had never heard of before. I bought a big box (on sale of course) to take home to my family.
One of the flavors in the box was amazing. It was listed with bergamot as the added flavor. I had no idea what that was and for whatever reason (early dementia?), I never pursued finding out.
Jump forward 2 years to the present. I checked out a book at the local library on herbs. Yep….it listed bergamot. Bergamot is perennial garden flower commonly called Bee Balm. And the best part? I have two varieties of Bee Balm growing in my own garden!
The book didn’t list any recipes using it with chocolate, but I already knew the flavors were “smashing” together! I decided to do a bit of experimenting to see if I could reproduce that fab flavor…..
Bergamot is a balm, a member of the mint family but not as aggressive. It does spread, but not as quickly. I just pull it up when it gets too far, about once a season or so….no biggy. It’s flavor is more spicy (not hot) than minty. If you’ve ever stood in a forest and taken a deep breath and can smell the sweet smell of growing things….well that’s what smelling bee balm is like. This flavor with chocolate will do the same thing to you….it’s just… that…. good.
I decided to pick the youngest leaves and chop them up finely….about 1/4 cup. I added them to 1 cup of half and half that was heated until hot, but not boiling. I let the leaves steep for about 30 minutes at room temperature and then tasted it. The flavor was there in full force. You want it somewhat strong in the cream because you’ve yet to add the chocolate. Pour the cream through a simple sieve to remove the leaves.
To this strained liquid, I added one package (12oz) of Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips and heated them until the chocolate melted into a smooth dark chocolate sauce. The bergamot was there, playing a lovely harmonic flavor. It was just like the chocolate from London. My taste buds were in heaven!
I used the sauce to make simple raspberry yogurt parfaits, with layers of each. Put them in the frig for 30 minutes and served. My guys loved it. My oldest son, home from college wanted me to show him how to make them!
1/4 cup fresh bergamot leaves (Monarda fistulosa or M. didyma), chopped finely, save the smallest leaves for garnish if desired
1 cup half and half or cream
12 oz good quality dark chocolate chips
1 pint fresh raspberries
32 or 24 oz container of your favorite Greek or Icelandic style vanilla yogurt
Pour the half and half into a microwave safe bowl and heat until hot, but not boiling. While this is warming, chop the bergamot leaves finely. Add to the warm cream, mix and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Taste to check strength…you want it to be a bit on the strong side since the chocolate is yet to be added and is very strong itself. To remove leaves, pour the cream through a sieve into a clean bowl. Add chocolate and gently heat until chocolate is melted. Stir until smooth.
Assemble parfaits (I used wine glasses) with yogurt first, followed by chocolate sauce and then berries. Continue layers until glasses are full. Top with the best berries and a sprig of bergamot if desired.
Allow to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
This is the healthiest dessert I’ve ever had that absolutely thrilled my taste buds! Enjoy!