Chocolate offers numerous health benefits. It increases serotonin levels which calm you and it contains phenylethylamine which stimulates dopamine production (the happy chemical). Heart benefits have been associated with chocolate, as have some cancer fighting properties. Pregnant woman who consume a small amount of chocolate throughout their pregnancies have been shown to experience less depression and have more active babies. The list goes on and on but it only applies to good quality chocolate 70% or higher.
Forget about Dutch chocolate. It didn’t come from Holland. Dutching is a process that removes the good stuff. And candy bars don’t have it either.
Most super markets carry decent quality chocolate these days but places like whole foods and higher end gourmet stores offer better quality bricks of chocolate that are actually more cost effective. The higher the % number, the more beneficial the chocolate becomes. It’s also darker and more bitter. We like to keep it at 70%.
Chocolate and Berries
Berries are in season now, so they’re super sweet.
All you need is: a ramekin (a small ceramic container), berries (any kind except black berries. They’re too sour) and chocolate
- Fill the ramekin with berries and stick a couple of squares of chocolate in between them. Don’t just throw it on top and don’t push it down to the bottom. It doesn’t work as well either way.
- Pop it into a 350 degree oven. About 15 min.
The berries and the chocolate melt together. Guests will think you did something special. It’s a winner. (One ramekin per person)
- Peel back a strip if the skin and scoop out a trench. Don’t take too much. You’re just making room for some chocolate.
- Use either chips or chop the chocolate into small pieces and distribute them evenly.
- Then cover it with that strip of skin that you peeled back.
- Wrap it in foil and bake it at 350 degrees for 20 min. You may want to leave it in a little longer to make the texture softer. This one can be a little messy but it’s absolutely delicious.
Lots of people enjoy nut butters. Almond is our favorite
If you place equal parts of nut butter and chocolate in the microwave until they melt together, you can dip pretzels, cut fruit slices or graham crackers in. Its great either warm or refrigerated and the nut butter adds protein. Watch your portions though. Those nut butters have a tricky way of adhering to your thighs when you’re not looking.
This is our favorite chocolate treat. It’s easy and very popular.
- Take one bag of chocolate chips. We like Ghirardelli.
- Put them in a microwavable container and add about 1/4 c cream. Start with 30 seconds.
- Take it out and stir it. This might take up to 4 min. It really depends on the weather and temperature in your house.
- As soon as it’s smooth stir in your additions, pour it onto foil and refrigerate it for 2-3 hrs.
- Then break it apart.
This is the fun part.
- Crush pretzels
- Potato chips
- Sour lemon drops
- Oreo cookies
- Pop rocks
We’ve tried them all and they were all popular. White chocolate and Oreos always goes first for some reason. But at least once a month, friends are making requests and suggesting new combinations. See what you can come up with. If you find a mix that you love, let us know.
Enjoy your chocolate.