#ChoctoberFest: Cocoa Crusted Baby Back Ribs


 I knew I wanted to do something savory to share during #ChoctoberFest. I thought about making a chili and could’ve sworn I had something saved on my Pinterest account. While searching I came up empty handed (looks like I’ll have to develop a new recipe this winter!). However, while I was searching I discovered baby back ribs with a cocoa spice rub. Conveniently, I had a rack of ribs in my freezer. Winner!

What wasn’t a winner – making these ribs in a small kitchen on a hundred degree day without air conditioning. I guess I should’ve looked at the forecast of the week before thawing my baby back ribs.

These ribs didn’t need a barbecue sauce, but I did have some extra rub which could maybe be used in a sauce. I’ll need to remake these ribs for my husband and might explore with developing a savory chocolate barbecue sauce. (Or, who knows, maybe someone will be doing the hard work for me during this two week event?)

Yes, I made these ribs while I was home “alone.” Alone being a term that doesn’t ever apply to me anymore. Or at least, not for quite some time. And while, sure, I’d love just a couple of hours alone, I wouldn’t trade my ability to stay home with my two young boys for anything!

The boys wouldn’t touch the ribs the day I made them. But, we ate off of the rack the entire week, using the meat in quesadillas, in sandwiches, and on nachos. I was a little skeptical on how the flavors of the cocoa would mesh with cheese, but it was delicious! And the kids had zero problems eating the ribs in a more comfortable medium.

The cocoa rub has an earthy, warm, comforting quality. Using unsweetened cocoa powder means you’re not getting a sweet flavor – the sugar in the rub is what creates a crust to the meat. With chili powder you get a hint of the flavors you’re accostomed to with barbecue, but the cocoa gives it that something unique yet familiar. I highly encourage you to branch out and give this rub a try.

Cocoa Crusted Baby Back Ribs


  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground mustard
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3 lb baby back ribs


  1. Whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, and spices in a bowl. Generously rub the ribs all over with the cocoa spice rub. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Remove ribs from the fridge 2 hours before cooking.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Bake ribs in a casserole dish 40-50 minutes, until tender. Remove.
  5. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Transfer ribs to a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake another 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

*This recipe is adapted from Saveur at http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Cocoa-Rubbed-Baby-Back-Ribs*

Cocoa Crusted Baby Back Ribs for #ChoctoberFest from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Don’t forget to enter our giveaway and be sure to check out the other bloggers who posted more chocolate recipes today:

Baked Onion Rings and Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce

Sunday is Father’s Day and if the dads in your life are anything like mine are and they buy themselves everything they want forget about the tie and make them dinner instead!

Last Father’s Day we were wondering if our little man would be arriving on this special day – he didn’t. I decided to make a meal fit for a Father regardless – baby back ribs with Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce and oven baked onion rings. Yes, I have been sitting on this recipe for a year!

Baked Onion Rings


  • 2 sweet onions, cut in slices
  • 1 qt buttermilk
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 C panko
  • 3/4 C cornmeal
  • 2/3 C flour (whole wheat or AP)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika


  1. Place onion rings in a casserole dish and cover with buttermilk. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a shallow bowl beat egg whites. In another shallow bowl mix together panko, cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, and paprika.
  4. Shake buttermilk off the onions and coat in the egg whites then the breadcrumb mixture. Place on prepared baking sheets in a single layer. Spray onion rings with cooking spray.
  5. Bake 15 minutes. Flip onion rings and bake another 15 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved.

*This recipe is adapted from Sally at http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/01/07/crispy-baked-onion-rings/*

Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce


  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (12 oz) Dr. Pepper
  • 1 C ketchup
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 C Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat melt butter. Saute onions until translucent. Add in garlic and cook another 60 seconds.
  2. Add Dr. Pepper, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, tomato paste, chili powder, S+P. Whisk. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  3. Allow sauce to cool slightly and puree with an immersion blender. Cool completely. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

*This recipe is adapted from Danelle at http://www.letsdishrecipes.com/2014/05/dr-pepper-barbecue-sauce.html*

ribs and rings

What are you making for Father’s Day? I’m not sure yet what I want to do – please leave me some ideas!

Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs

I love baby back ribs. There, I said it. But I also hate baby back ribs. What?? There is one place back home (Rib City) that has the best, hands down, ribs ever. I’ve tried ribs in the South, and they’re awful. Okay, they’re clearly not awful because everyone else seems to love them. So here’s what I’ve learned about my bi-polar opinion. If the ribs aren’t cooked in sauce, then I’m not going to like them. I used to think it was smoking – I don’t like the Liquid Smoke that is really popular in the South and find my taste buds to be very sensitive to it.  I think if the ribs are coated in sauce while being baked/grilled, then it softens the harsh smoke flavor. Disclaimer: I’m no BBQ Pit Master, the above statements are my personal opinion.

The first time I made ribs at home I did them in a slow cooker. The meat was cooked perfectly, but the recipe I followed seriously messed with my head. I tried Asian ribs. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t right! Every time I took I bite I was expecting the sweet, tang of barbecue sauce.

I promised myself that the next time I made baby back ribs, I’d do it right. I made a very simple dry rub and used the Neely’s recipe for barbecue sauce.Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs 1

These babies looked like restaurant quality when I pulled them out of the slow cooker – I actually didn’t want to cover them up in sauce! (But I did eat them that way!)

Stuart said this meal was his second favorite, almost edging out Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas.

Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs


  • 3 lb baby back ribs
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 2 1/2 C BBQ sauce, plus extra for serving


  1. Make dry rub with paprika, salt, and pepper.
  2. Cut rack of ribs into mini-slabs of 3 ribs each. Pat them dry with a paper towel. Rub all sides of ribs with the dry rub from Step 1.
  3. Place ribs in slow cooker so the the meaty side is facing the sides of the slow cooker, but not touching them. Pour barbecue sauce around the ribs. Cook on LOW for 6 hours. Flip the ribs halfway through the cooking time.

Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs 2

This blog post also comes with a bonus recipe for my Smokey Sweet Potato Fries.


  • 2 small sweet potatoes, cut into fries
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 C panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until it looks like soapy dish water.
  3. Combine panko, paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne.
  4. Dredge potatoes in egg white and then the panko mixture.
  5. Bake potatoes for 25-30 minutes.

Update July 2016: These ribs are definitely one of my favorite meals and whenever they’re on sale at the grocery store I stock up! Every time I made them I said I needed to take a new picture, but I’d get so excited and completely forget about the camera, the blog, and the internet, and before I knew it I’d have a plate of empty bones and a little bit of barbecue sauce. But not this time! This time I snapped some pictures. I’m not sure how happy I am with the results, but they are better than those originals up there. I guess I’ll have to continue making these ribs and trying to photograph them again. Darn.

Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com