Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Chocolate Shepherd’s Pie – We Should Cocoa 18

Well this may not bear much resemblance to shepherds pie as most know it – it is vegetarian after all – but it’s what I call shepherds pie. Normally I make this with lentils, but I thought I’d try a version using Quorn mince this time instead as I happened to have some languishing in the freezer. I was also keen to incorporate chocolate, as this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge was to make a savoury vegetarian dish and I thought chocolate would give an added depth of flavour to a much loved (by me at any rate) dish.

This is what I did:

  • Scrubbed some of our Sarpo potatoes.
  • Placed in a pan with a large clove of garlic and boiled until soft.
  • Drained off the water and mashed with some sour cream and 1/8 tsp sea salt.
  • Put a glug of olive oil into a large pan.
  • Threw in 1 large onion – chopped.
  • Diced 3 large carrots and put those in too.
  • Added a few sprigs of thyme, a couple of bay leaves and 3 Cornish pepper leaves.
  • Fried until the onion was soft.
  • Added two large cloves of garlic – chopped & a 1/4 tsp dried thyme.
  • Threw in 300g Quorn mince, rather more frozen sweetcorn than I intended as my hand slipped when adding it to the pan and a tin of mixed beans.
  • Ground in some black pepper, added some shoyu and a pinch of sea salt.
  • Left to simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes.
  • Took off the heat.
  • Added 40g 70% dark chocolate (G&B) and left to melt.
  • Buttered a casserole dish and spooned in the mince.
  • Spread the mashed potato over the top and dotted with small pieces of butter.
  • Baked at 180C for 30 minutes until bubbling and nicely browned on top.
The photographs are not great: firstly it was dark and secondly, it’s just hard to make brown mush look really appealing in a photograph. It was, in actuality though, very appealing. The Quorn mince worked well, although I think I prefer my lentil version. I was absolutely right about the addition of chocolate though. It made this savoury dish, somehow even more savoury. Does chocolate, perhaps, contain that elusive umami flavour? It also gave a nice rich brown colour to the gravy and had a thickening effect too. This is perfect winter fare and I shall be using chocolate in my shepherd’s pies from now on in.

For further inspiration – or not – here are some other chocolate savoury posts I’ve done:


  1. Green Dragonette

    21st February 2012 at 7:14 am

    Wow that’s not something I would have thought of doing…must give it a try myself next time!

  2. Choclette

    21st February 2012 at 7:25 am

    Ha ha, if it hadn’t been for the challenge I set, I probably wouldn’t have thought of doing it either. I thought it would be good, but it was even better than I was expecting.

  3. Dom at Belleau Kitchen

    21st February 2012 at 7:59 am

    well it looks ‘interesting’ to say the least!… I know that chocolate works well with really rich meats so its nice to learn that it works with the quorn too… I have REALLY been struggling but I have finally come up with a solution that hits both the vegetarian and meat lover in me… a very crafty challenge miss C!

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 6:50 am

      Dom, I do try 😀 Glad you’ve managed to find something that won’t upset me too much!

  4. hungryhinny

    21st February 2012 at 9:09 am

    This sounds really good, although I don’t tend to use meat subsititutes so would probably prefer the lentil version… will have to give it a try!

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 6:52 am

      Oh I do agree with you Natalie – it’s quite rare for me to use quorn. Just like to try it out from time to time to remind myself what it’s all about.

  5. Jennifer

    21st February 2012 at 9:25 am

    You’ve made my mouth water reading this – and I’ve already eaten my breakfast! Think I know what we’ll be having for dinner tonight.

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 6:53 am

      Comfort food at it’s best 🙂

  6. Johanna GGG

    21st February 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Looks lovely – and inspired! I love this theme and have been mulling over a dish I want to make (hope white chocolate counts) but am struggling for some time and energy – I am really looking forward to the round up as I think chocolate is great as a flavouring as well as a flavour

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 6:55 am

      Oh I do hope you manage it Johanna. I know you will come up with something interesting. White chocolate is fine, as is cocoa, milk chocolate or dark.

    • Johanna GGG

      22nd February 2012 at 8:57 am

      Phew! Well I have made the dish tonight and now just need to get it written up – am on my way 🙂 With white chocolate!

  7. laura@howtocookgoodfood

    21st February 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I do agree with you about the chocolate adding another dimension to a savoury dish. I am with you on this and may use it more often now. I do like a veggie shepherd’s pie but prefer your idea of a lentil base as I am not a fan of Quorn mince. I find it really dry & doesn’t absorb flavours as well as pulses do.
    Have really enjoyed this challenge!!

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 6:57 am

      This was a good challenge for me too Laura. i keep meaning to try chocolate more in savoury dishes, but usually get sucked into the tried and tested.

  8. JavelinWarrior

    21st February 2012 at 6:18 pm

    That’s genius – I never thought of adding chocolate to my veggie shepherd’s pie, but I’m guessing it would lend a rich flavor even without quorn or lentils (I don’t use either, just a rich gravy sauce and mushrooms). I love this idea and thanks for sharing!

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 6:59 am

      Oh now, mushrooms sound really good.

  9. A Trifle Rushed

    21st February 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Sounds so yummy. I used Quorn during the BSE scare for burgers, but think I’d prefer the lentils you suggest. Jude x

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 7:00 am

      Thanks Jude. It looks as though lentils are winning over quorn!

  10. Karen S Booth

    21st February 2012 at 8:45 pm

    That is SUCH a great idea Choclette, and I would try that out when I next make a quorn dish! I bet it adds a real depth of flavour, a GREAT idea for your very challenging but fun theme!

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 7:01 am

      Thanks Karen. It has been fun seeing what people are coming up with – lots of good ideas.

  11. Baking Addict

    21st February 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Brilliant idea! I’m glad the chocolate worked with the quorn. I’ve tried chocolate with beef or chicken previously (not cooked by me!) and it worked really well. The chocolate added a depth to the flavour and colour but not a true chocolate taste. I’ve also seen a lot of celebrity chefs make chocolate chilli con carne. Thanks for hosting a great challenge as always, look forward to reading the round up.

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 7:03 am

      You’re right, you can’t really taste the chocolate, it’s just that added depth of flavour and richness it gives that makes it interesting.

  12. SerenaB

    21st February 2012 at 10:00 pm

    I love how creative you are in adding the chocolate! You have a wonderful blog. In our house I try to keep food as organic and sustainable as possible! I am excited to peek around your blog! Have a wonderful week!

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 7:04 am

      Thanks for your kind comment Serena and for visiting. Hope to see you again.

  13. i- lostinausten

    21st February 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Sounds great & looks tasty too! How amazing what we can do with chocolates! Great challenge & I had fun doing mine too! Looking forward to see the round up for more recipes! 🙂

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 7:06 am

      Thank you. So pleased to hear you’ve joined in the challenge. I haven’t checked out the entries yet.

  14. Clare

    21st February 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Wow I never would have thought of adding chocolate to a Shepard’s Pie – might try that sometime. I made a quorn version before too, it was nice enough but don’t think I’d make it again! Yours looks very nice!

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 7:09 am

      Yes, quorn is good for bulk, but not really the nicest thing to use. Do try adding chocolate, it would be interesting to hear what you think.

  15. Phil in the Kitchen

    21st February 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Great idea – I don’t think I’ve ever made a non-meat shepherd’s pie. This is a tricky challenge – I’ll get my entry in very soon.

    • Choclette

      22nd February 2012 at 7:10 am

      And there was me thinking you’d find this one a breeze Phil!

  16. VegBoxBoy

    23rd February 2012 at 7:37 am

    Glad it’s not just me who’s hand sometimes slips!

    Sounds like Chocolate worked well in this – Quorn seems to need something to give it a bit of taste.

    • Choclette

      23rd February 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Yes, quorn is a bit of a strange beast – err, perhaps beast isn’t quite the right word!

  17. Sarah, Maison Cupcake

    23rd February 2012 at 11:47 am

    I put too much cocoa powder in my chilli the other day and it was bit of a disaster! This sounds great though, I may be inspired to have another go!

    • Choclette

      23rd February 2012 at 9:02 pm

      Oh what a shame Sarah, do hope you try again and have better luck. It’s one of those things that is quite hard to judge.

  18. C

    23rd February 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Well, it certainly sounds interesting! I think I’d prefer the lentil version, but I can imagine that the chocolate added a depth. This round up is going to be really interesting!

  19. mr. pineapple man

    23rd February 2012 at 11:38 pm

    I would really love to try this!

  20. Choclette

    24th February 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Well, if you do, let me know what you think.

  21. Three-Cookies

    25th February 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks for dropping by. Pleased to discover your blog, chocoholics paradise. Never would have imagined shephards pie with chocolate.

    • Choclette

      27th February 2012 at 7:14 am

      Thank you. I’m really glad that it worked. Will be trying it with lentils next time I make shepherd’s pie.


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