FOOD writer Sue Quinn has been immersing herself in chocolate for the past 18 months – which is ironic considering that she used to be allergic to the stuff when she was a child.

The Bournemouth-based writer is now a qualified chocolate taster, she’s travelled hundreds of miles around the world learning about the history of chocolate, and spent many hours in the kitchen perfecting recipes.

Now her latest book Cocoa is hitting the shelves and has already had rave reviews. Award-winning chocolatier Paul A Young, describes the book as “a gorgeous read, with recipes woven into stories and facts”.

In Cocoa, Sue delves into the history and culture of chocolate, from the spice drinks sipped by the elite in ancient Mesoamerica, to the artisan bars spiked with intriguing flavours we devour today.

She has compiled 80 sweet and savoury recipes to inspire us to enjoy chocolate in both new and traditional ways.

Earlier this month Sue hosted an official book launch at Terroir Tapas in Southbourne along with a five course tasting menu based on recipes from her book to demonstrate the versatility of chocolate – see recipes below.

She tells Taste: “When I was thinking about a theme for my next book I wanted to tell a story.

“There are just so many recipe books out there now, but what makes me want to buy a cookbook is if there’s a story to it and chocolate has so many aspects to it.

“It’s an ancient food that has influenced history, politics, geography, health – it really was the ultimate food story to tell which also gave me the opportunity to cook with it and develop recipes which is amazing as I have always adored chocolate.

“Funnily enough I was allergic to chocolate when I was a child – I used to come out in hives and I wasn’t allowed to eat it so that probably made me more fascinated with this delicious treat that I wasn’t allowed to have but everybody else loved.

“Fortunately I grew out of it but it left me with a life-long fascination with chocolate.”

Sue adds: “The book took me around 18 months to complete which is the longest I’ve taken to complete a book because it was almost two books in one featuring 80 odd recipes with essays, practical guides and lots of information. It’s a bit of a love letter to chocolate.

“The more I researched the more I realised how much there was to it! Chocolate is is complex. To be a real aficionado you have to know how it grows, the flavour profile and how to use all your senses to taste.

Here are a couple of recipes to try at home...


Many people forget that it is only the addition of sugar that makes chocolate sweet –– imaginative cooks, especially in Italy, have been using it as a spice for centuries, including in pasta.

The chocolate imparts a delicate bitterness that works beautifully with Gorgonzola, or with a sage, butter and Parmesan sauce, or even with chopped and fried bacon or porcini.

  • 30g / 1oz walnuts
  • 220g / 7¾oz dried tagliatelle
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 80ml / 2¾fl oz double [heavy] cream
  • 3 Tbsp dry white wine
  • 100g / 3½oz Gorgonzola, chopped, plus extra (chopped) to serve
  • 40g / 1½oz Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Dark chocolate (100% cocoa solids), for grating, or about ½ tsp cacao nibs,

Finely blitzed in a spice grinder, to serve Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4. Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, shaking the sheet halfway through, until lightly toasted. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop.

While the nuts are roasting, prepare the pasta and sauce. Cook the tagliatelle in a large pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute less than the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, place the butter, garlic and rosemary in a small frying pan and cook over a medium-low heat until everything is gently sizzling and smelling delicious.

Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the cream, wine and 60ml / 2fl oz of the pasta cooking water and gently bubble away for a minute or so. Add the Gorgonzola and Parmesan and cook gently, stirring, until the cheese has melted. Add more pasta water if needed to make a loose but creamy sauce. Add the lemon zest and a good grinding of black pepper. Taste and add more salt or pepper if you like.

When the pasta is cooked, lightly drain, reserving a good splosh of the cooking water, and return the pasta to the pan. Add the sauce and quickly toss together, then fold in most of the roasted nuts, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen.

Serve topped with more Gorgonzola, the remaining walnuts and a generous grating of chocolate or finely blitzed cacao nibs.


I was determined to devise my own version of this sublime dessert after scoffing platefuls of it at London restaurant Lupins. The combination of intense dark chocolate, sweet-salty-chewy honeycomb, sesame seeds and grassy olive oil is, as one reviewer described it, ‘an outrageous creation’. Add the best chocolate and olive oil you can afford.

Serves 4

For the mousse:

  • 150g / 5¼oz dark chocolate (between 70–75% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 20g / ¾oz caster [superfine] sugar
  • 75ml / 2½fl oz whole milk
  • 175ml / 6fl oz double [heavy] cream

For the honeycomb:

  • 40g / 1½oz white sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda [baking soda]
  • 100g / 3½oz caster [superfine] sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden [corn] syrup
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Good-quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Start with the mousse. Have the chocolate ready by the hob in a heatproof bowl. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer or in a heatproof bowl with electric beaters until pale and creamy.

Combine the milk and cream in a pan and bring to a simmer. Pour the hot milk over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.

Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5–10 minutes until it has thickened to a custard-like consistency: when you lift a wooden spoon out of it, it should stay coated.

Pour the custard over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and glossy, then pour through a sieve into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure it sticks to the chocolate to prevent a skin forming.

Chill for 2 hours, or until set. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

For the honeycomb, line a baking sheet with baking paper and have the sesame seeds and bicarbonate of soda measured out and ready by the hob.

Place the sugar, golden syrup and honey in a high-sided pan and stir to combine. Set the pan over a medium heat and simmer until the mixture has turned a deep amber colour (a drop spooned into a glass of cold water should turn hard).

Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the sesame seeds and then the bicarbonate of soda. Stir constantly as the mixture froths up. Quickly pour onto the prepared baking sheet and leave for about 1 hour, or until hard. Break into pieces.

To serve, use 2 dessertspoons to scoop the mousse into oval shapes and place two on to each serving plate. Sprinkle over some of the honeycomb pieces and drizzle with the olive oil. Serve immediately.

  • Cocoa by Sue Quinn (Quadrille £25) Photography © Yuki Sugiurace £25.