Chocolate splashing on Craig's BBQ Sauce and All Purpose Seasoning bottles

For the Love of Chocolate and the Grill

February is the month of football and love! It’s easy to talk about all the ways to barbecue the perfect spread for the Super Bowl. What isn’t so easy is describing how good the unlikely pairing of chocolate and barbecue is to die-hard BBQ fans. Pretty sure most would suggest keeping chocolate for the dessert table. However, we’re here to let you know, that chocolate is worthy of a place at the top of the menu with entrees and sides. 

Introduction to chocolate

Although the word chocolate may bring pleasant thoughts of your favorite candy bar or Valentine’s Day treat, the truth is, chocolate is grown in the tropics and starts off as a very bitter bean (hidden inside a cacao pod), which many would consider inedible. Once mature, cacao pods are broken open so it’s pulp, and the cacao beans can ferment in hot tropical temps and high humidity for about a week. This process helps build chocolate’s characteristic flavor and aroma. 

After the fermentation period, the pulp is removed, while the beans are rinsed and left to dry in the sun. It is then, that the cacao beans are sent to manufacturers where they are processed, which includes the most crucial step; roasting. This step removes some of the acidic compounds and causes chemical reactions that are responsible for the color, flavor, and aroma of the chocolate you know and love. Next up, the beans are crushed to expose the inner cocoa nibs, which is the part used to produce chocolate. With a few other steps, including more grinding and adding ingredients like sugar, vanilla, and milk solids, your traditional chocolate is born.

So, what’s all this got to do with BBQ? The bitter, sweet, aromatic, and earthy flavor profile of chocolate can complement your barbecue rubs, sauces, and of course, desserts.

Adding chocolate to your barbecue rub

If you’re looking to enhance your BBQ rub, try adding a teaspoon of dark cocoa powder to your mix. Here are two simple ways to get you going. This will make about 1/3 cup of rub. Store the unused rub in an airtight container.

With Craig’s All-Purpose Seasoning

Combine 1/3 cup TPJ’s All-Purpose Seasoning with 1 tsp dark cocoa powder in a bowl. Use on smoked or grilled meats.

Without Craig’s All-Purpose Seasoning

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. As above, you can use it on smoked or grilled meats.

  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cumin

Adding chocolate to your barbecue sauce

For all you sauce people, adding melted chocolate to your favorite BBQ sauce can bring another level of flavor to smoked or barbecued meats, even veggies.

With Craig’s BBQ Sauce

In a saucepan, mix a 1oz. (finely chopped) unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate with a 21oz. bottle of Craig’s BBQ Sauce. Gently stir over low heat just until the chocolate bits melt. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before applying to smoked or grilled meats or vegetables. Refrigerate chocolate BBQ sauce in an airtight container for up to a week.

Without Craig’s BBQ Sauce

Whisk all ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat until well combined. Bring to a simmer over med/low heat and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before using. Refrigerate leftover sauce in an airtight container for up to a week. 

  • 1 c ketchup
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 1 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (optional)

Adding chocolate to your BBQ desserts

While this one may seem like a no-brainer. We thought we’d mix it up and suggest adding melted or shaved unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate to your barbecue-inspired, spicy desserts. A few of our favorites that incorporate TPJ Texas Pepper Jelly include Fresh & Feisty No Churn Ice Cream, Blazin’ Berry Sherbet, and Texas Style Dessert Spicy Peach Cobbler.


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