chocolate

rich dark chocolate spread


As a child, I absolutely loved spreading nutella on my toast. These days, I'm more into dark chocolate, as well as natural healthy whole ingredients. I came up with this exquisite silky dark chocolate spread to satisfy my craving:
Recipe: Noir Chocolate Spread

It's perfect for slathering on toast, crackers, rice cakes, or for enjoying with strawberries or other fruit. This sweet decadent raw vegan treat is good for you too: rich in healthy omega-3 flax oil, full of antioxidant-rich cocoa, and sweetened with raw agave syrup.

The bread in the photo is gluten-free quinoa bread from Little Stream Bakery, a superb moist almost-cake-like sourdough bread, my current favorite :-)

Chocolate + Salt

Fine milk chocolate + sea salt? Awesome. I'm not even a milk chocolate fan, but this was great. Similar to salted caramel...

(Tosh visiting from Berlin brought us all exotic chocolate bars: sweeet! danke :-)

...and this recipe for caramel-dark chocolate truffles with fleur de sel looks awesome!

Spicy Mayan Brownies

I came up with these super-rich fudgy spicy brownies a while back to satisfy my craving for chocolate and spice. Having a sweet spot for all things Mayan, I composed these using some traditional Mayan flavours: chocolate, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, anise, chilli, vanilla - yum! I also incorporated the healthy meso-American super-grain quinoa (I used red quinoa) as well as flax seeds - I don't think flax is Mayan, but it allowed me to avoid eggs in this recipe. I soaked my seeds to germinate/sprout them: super healthy and easier to puree. Though the high amount of cocoa, sprouted seeds, and spices would qualify these gluten-free vegan treats as healthy, the sucanat and butter (coconut oil works here for the vegan or dairy-free diets) bump these into the supremely rich and tasty side of healthy. I love these brownies + they are now officially my sweet-heart's new favorite brownies :-)

Recipe: Spicy Mayan Brownies

Festive Candied Peel


Two beautiful large organic navel oranges inspired me to make these superb candied peels~

Recipe: Candied Orange Peel

These turned out beautifully. Eating one little piece is a great pick-me-up. You can also dip these in dark chocolate (trés sophistiqué!) or use as a premium ingredient in another recipe...

Tiny recipes on Twitter

Maureen from San Francisco came up with the great idea of posting super tiny condensed recipes to Twitter like:

Chocolate Cake: melt c choc/6T butter; +5T h2o&flour&cocoa.
Beat silky 8T sugar/2egg. Fold all in sml grsd pan. 40m@350F in 2nd pan hot h2o.

Brilliant :-)

favorite smoothie!

Rich Chocolate Smoothie
mmm...

My new favorite smoothie:
Rich Chocolate Smoothie

It tastes more like an awesome milkshake: rich, sweet, creamy...
- minus the ice cream and milk!

Food of the Gods

Mayan chocolate discs

Real Mayan chocolate from the Yukatan, Mexico.

Another great score from Mexico ~

Hand made in the Yukatan, the only ingredient in this chocolate is cacao. We spoke with the woman who made it, and she told us how to prepare Mayan-style hot chocolate:

Blend for 1 minute: 1 disc of chocolate with 1 liter of hot water (or hot milk). The hot chocolate should be nice and foamy. Serves 4.

This will produce a very bitter drink. I'll add 1 - 2 Tbsp of Mexican honey and a splash of vanilla when I make it.

Besides honey and vanilla, other ingredients traditionally included can be: cinnamon, chillies, anise seeds, sesame seeds, ground corn, allspice, achiote, and aromatic flowers.

(Healthy) Dark Rum Walnut Brownies


Dark Rum Walnut Brownies: Bittersweet dark nutty fruity chocolaty bliss

Time for some awesome rich chocolaty Dark Rum Walnut Brownies!

Compared to traditional brownies (that generally have a lot of butter/oil, refined wheat flour, refined sugar...) these are healthy. You still need fat and sugar to make a really good brownie - and these definitely have fat and sugar. The difference is this: these have more healthy fats (like egg yolks and omega3-rich walnuts) and healthier sugars (from mineral and fiber-rich dried fruits like prunes). They are also packed with healthy dark chocolate.

Recipe: Dark Rum Walnut Brownies

Yum!

Cocoa: Dutch vs Raw

Cocoa beans in a cacao pod
Cocoa beans in a cacao pod (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service)

I'm sure you've all been noticing the studies constantly popping up proclaiming chocolate's health benefits.

In Chocolate, More Cocoa Means Higher Antioxidant Capacity. One thing I recently learned was that alkalized cocoa (like the dark and mellow Dutch Processed cocoa) is lower in healthy antioxidants (here: flavonoids) than the more unprocessed (and more bitter) "raw" cocoa. I figured when it came to chocolate, and by extension cocoa, "the darker the better". Not so for cocoa. Dutch Processed cocoa still contains healthy antioxidants (and tastes awesome), just not many as raw cocoa.

Once again, the less processed food wins as the healthier choice!

Panforte

Panforte cross-section
a chocolate version of the famous Italian fruitcake: Panforte

Yes - it's the holiday season. I've been busy making super-rich frighteningly tasty treats including my own version of the amazing sweet/spicy/chewy/bitter/nutty Italian cake/confection panforte (aka Sienna cake).

Some inspiring recipes for panforte:

I've read slightly different historical accounts of panforte - here's the Wikipedia's most recent write-up:

"Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembling fruitcake or Lebkuchen. It may date back to 13th century Siena, in Italy's Tuscany region. Documents from 1205 show that Panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax or tithe which was due on the seventh of February that year. Literally, Panforte means "strong bread" which refers to the spicy flavour. The original name of Panforte was "panpepato" (pepper bread), due to the strong pepper used in the cake. There are references to the Crusaders carrying Panforte, a durable confection, with them on their quests."

Currently there are many shops in Italy producing Panforte, each recipe being their jealously guarded interpretation of the original confection and packaged in distinctive wrapping. Usually a small wedge is served with coffee or a dessert wine after a meal, though some enjoy it with their coffee at breakfast."

(more history here)

ps - panforte is really really sweet so consume in moderation ;-)