Chocolate-Dusted Scallops with Vanilla Butter Sauce

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Yield: 4 servings
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1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced into gaufrettes

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon dried fennel seeds, toasted and ground

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons fine salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 pound sea scallops, patted dry

Vegetable oil, for frying

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 medium orange, segmented


  1. Heat frying oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees F.
  2. In batches, add sweet potatoes to oil and fry until crispy, about 1 minute. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. In a shallow dish, combine the cocoa, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne. Lightly dredge 1 side of the scallops in the spice mixture, shaking to remove the excess.
  4. In a large skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallops in batches as necessary and cook until just cooked through and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending upon thickness. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  5. In a medium skillet, melt the sugar over medium heat. When it starts to caramelize, add the vinegar, wine, vanilla bean and seeds, zest and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and cook until thickened and reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat and whisk in the butter several pieces at a time, adding additional pieces just as the previous ones are almost incorporated. Remove from the heat and remove the vanilla bean. Stir in the orange segments and adjust the seasoning, to taste.
  6. Spoon the sauce onto 4 plates and top with the scallops. Serve immediately with the sweet potato gaufrettes.