On a recent radio interview that I did, the producer wrote immediately afterward that they were inundated with requests for my recipe for Cocoa Nib Sausage, which I use to top my Chocolate Pizza Dough from The Great Book of Chocolate.
I get a lot of quizzical looks from people when they hear the words ‘chocolate’ and ‘pizza’ in the same breath, but adding sugar to chocolate is a relatively new idea in the grand history of the bar. (Most of us remember how our grandmothers only kept unsweetened chocolate in the house.) And there’s many cultures that use chocolate in savory dishes whose origins go back hundreds and in some cases, thousands of years, including Mole. And here in France, it’s not uncommon for many cooks to sneak a bit of grated a chocolate into their Coq au Vin.
Many years ago, I became good friends with Joanne Weir, when we were young cooks starting out and before we knew any better. Now she’s famous with a television career and many terrific books to her name, and we try to see each other when we passes through each other’s town.
My favorite recollection of her is when she came to my house in San Francisco to make pizza. Mostly I remember that there were a lot of empty bottles of Barolo the next day, and a copy of this recipe on my counter that was splattered with garlic oil and a few flecks of parsley. (And my oven was a mess too.) So when I was looking for the perfect topping for my chocolate pizza dough, I adapted her sausage recipe, adding crunchy and unsweetened cocoa nibs which gave it a nice savory crunch, as well as a bit of chocolate flavor.
Cocoa Nib and Spiced Lamb Sausage Pizza
Enough for two 9-inch pizzas, or 1 rectangular baking sheet pizza (approximately 11″ by 17″)
You can use this sausage to top any recipe for your favorite pizza dough if you’d like.
1 recipe for Chocolate Pizza Dough, rolled out onto baking sheets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
- ½ pound ground lamb
- ½ cup peeled, seeded, and chopped canned plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste or harissa
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- large pinch (each) cinnamon, allspice and cloves
- 1/8 teaspoons red pepper or chili flakes
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup roasted cocoa nibs
- 4 ounces fontina cheese, grated
- 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil and the minced garlic. Set aside.
2. Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet and cook the onions until soft and translucent. Add the lamb, tomatoes, tomato paste (or harissa), parsley, pine nuts, spices, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook slowly for 10 minutes (uncovered).
3. Remove from heat and add a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice and let cool to room temperature.
4. Once cooled, stir in the cocoa nibs.
To make the pizzas: Brush top of pizza dough with garlic-infused olive oil. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the dough then spread the sausage over the cheeses. Finally top with the remaining cheese and bake the pizza in a very hot oven until the cheese is bubbling and deep-golden brown.