Cocoa, Bacon AND Steak! (Recipe included in this adventure)

Warning: this recipe has been referred to as “sensuous” and really good for that date (or “date night”) when you want to use really intoxicating ingredients…chocolate (cocoa), steak and more…. (really – you need more??)

The ad on the side of the highway tempted me, as the billboard was filled with chocolate bon-bons. Recently, I decided to check out what was advertised, the Chocolate Expo. It was a crazy mess of consumers (so, not a “trade” show) visiting booths with vendors selling their chocolate wares. While discovering chocolate covered bacon bits and a chocolate-infused balsamic vinegar was fun, the best part was a demonstration by Chef Lawrence Rosenberg.

Cocoa Rubbed Steak

Chef Rosenberg demonstrating his Cocoa Rubbed Flank Steak recipe

We sat in the front row of an auditorium while he went on about his history of cooking with chocolate. I was more interested in what he was creating – a steak rub using cocoa powder! The topping consisted of mushrooms and a slab of bacon cut into cubes. This part intrigued me too, as I had never seen bacon this way. So, I raised my hand and asked where to buy this ‘unusual’ product. Turns out, it was unusual to me…supermarkets carry this! When I went shopping for the ingredients I had to ask the butcher where to find it…duh, right next to the packages of bacon! Learning new things is great. When it results in something as yummy as this, my Kitchen Confidence soars.

Life Lessons through Recipes

This recipe is gluten-free as well, and I’ve added options to make it paleo friendly (but I’m not sure cave dwellers actually ate cacao powder or bacon!). The first time I made it, following Chef Rosenberg’s recipe exactly, it came out amazing.  The next time I made it, I was more lenient in the ingredients, and it didn’t taste quite as good.  I discussed this with my niece, who is a budding baker, and we think it’s definitely a phenomenon.  The first time you want to get it perfect, and the next time you are more relaxed so something doesn’t quite go right.  To us, cooking is an Adventure.  And as the Adventure Wednesday motto goes “Every challenge is a lesson to be learned.”  Take on the challenge of cooking, and of having confidence to try new things!


Mushrooms are Vitamin C, Folate, Iron, Zinc and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin D, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Selenium

cocoa rubbed steak with bacon

While Fairway carries slab bacon, Stop & Shop does not. So I subbed the super thick cut. I prefer the slab bacon for this recipe

cocoa rubbed steak

Here are the spices I used for this recipe. I realized I didn’t have cayenne – so chili powder or red pepper flakes are supposed to be a decent substitute. Cayenne is much better (putting on the shopping list for next time!).  Cacao powder is very low in cholesterol & sodium, a good source of protein, potassium & zinc, and a very good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Plus theobromine (a mild stimulant, and a mild anti-depressant) and antioxidants.

cocoa rubbed steak

My attempt at measuring freshly ground himalayan salt went awry…

Salt Lake City salt

I harvested this bag of salt myself from a salt lake in Salt Lake City. This recipe is worth this hand-hewn salt!

cocoa rubbed steak

Another Kitchen Confidential lesson. Don’t use a London Broil cut. Stick with Top Sirloin (aka NY Strip, Kansas City Strip. Much better for this recipe!)

Note on cocoa powder – stick with organic.  Farmers have learned how to mass produce cacao beans for the growing demand.  These beans, similar to the mass produced chickens, are bland.  Organic (and Fair Trade) is better for the earth as well as the palate.  I’ve added paleo suggestions to this recipe.  You don’t have to be paleo to like them, it’s also good if you’re aiming to lower your glycemic index or trying to go more in the direction of clean eating.

Cocoa Rubbed Steak with Bacon and Mushrooms

Yields 2 servings


2 steaks (NY strip or flank.  Buy what you think serves two people)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dagoba Cacao Powder)
4 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar (for paleo version, use coconut sugar)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons Kosher salt (or sea salt. I happen to like using Himalayan pink salt but the Kirkland one is a grinder, and not easy to use in recipes)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (for paleo use olive oil or coconut oil)

Bacon and Mushrooms topping

1 pound slab bacon, cubed (thick cut bacon can work, but go for the slab if you can)
2 cups fresh mushrooms quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)


Cacao Rub: Prepare the rub by mixing together the cocoa powder, the two kinds of paprika, the light brown sugar (or coconut sugar), the cayenne, the black pepper and the salt.  Rub the mixture onto both sides of the meat and let it sit while you prepare the topping.

Bacon & Mushroom topping: Cut the slab bacon into small cubes. Quarter the mushrooms.  Chop the parsley (for garnish later).

Cook the steak: You can grill it, but I prefer searing it in a pan (use butter, or if going for paleo, use the coconut oil).  Pan sear until caramelized, and finish in the oven to your taste.  After cooking, set aside to rest (about five minutes).

In a hot skillet, cook the bacon until crisp.  Set aside. Use some of the bacon fat to sauté the mushrooms to desired softness (around 3-5 minutes).

Slice the steak against the grain, place on the plates.  Add the topping, garnish with parsley and enjoy.

cocoa rubbed steak

My dinner – Cocoa Rubbed Steak with bacon and mushrooms


Other Bacon & Chocolate treats

Not into making a whole meal?  It turns out bacon and chocolate is easy to get as a treat.  The Chef who gave the demonstration also invented “Pig Poop” or chocolate covered pieces of bacon.  Or you could try Vosges Mo’s Dark Chocolate Bacon Bar” which I discovered while on a chocolate tour in NYC (more on that to come!)


Chef Rosenberg’s fun product – Bacon Bites Pig Poop (chocolate covered bacon!)

bacon and chocolate

If you want bacon and chocolate, Vosges “Mo’s Dark Bar” does the trick!


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  1. Becky on February 21, 2017 at 3:16 am

    OMG!!! sounds delish! will definitely try this one!!!

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