3 surprising ways to use cocoa powder

You know it can be sweet—brownies, chocolate cake, truffles. But cocoa powder has a savory side, too

Not convinced that cocoa powder can go beyond baked goods? Try our cocoa and espresso rub: It adds a smoky depth to your average grocery-store steak, so the meat tastes practically dry-aged when grilled (no chocolate flavor at all). Look for natural unsweetened cocoa powder, which is just pulverized roasted cocoa beans. (Dutch process is altered to be mellower, but it’s less versatile.) Cocoa powder will last up to 18 months in a cool, dark place, but we've got a few great ideas to use it up.

1. Cocoa and Espresso Steak Rub

Hoping to impress company coming for dinner? This rub adds big flavor and depth to any steak. Sear it in a hot pan, let it rest, then pair it with your favorite steak-house sides: think roasted or baked potatoes, creamed greens, or a crunchy wedge salad. The best part? You can make the spice rub in bulk today, and it will last for up to 2 months.

Get the recipe: Cocoa-and-Espresso Rub for Steak

2. Easy Mole Sauce

This sauce is smoky and rich, and the cocoa adds a base flavor that you likely won’t identify as, well, chocolatey. Use it to perk up roasted chicken or pork, or as a sauce poured over vegetarian enchiladas. The sauce can be made up to one day ahead. Keep it tightly covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Get the recipe: Easy Mole Sauce

3. Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix

This mix makes for a sweet and comforting hot cocoa with a hint of cinnamon and spice. If you prefer more of a kick, up the cayenne to a rounded ¼ teaspoon. For an even richer treat, use half and half in place of milk. Once a batch is made, it only takes a few minutes to make a mug (or three), so it’s great to keep on hand all winter long. Serve with freshly whipped cream or marshmallows.

Get the recipe: Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix

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