Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pick of the Week: Chocolate

Everyday Health left the best super food for the end: Dark chocolate. We're not talking milk chocolate, but dark chocolate, and the more bitter, the better. It seems the benefits of chocolate come from the flavonols and antioxidants -- the same disease fighting chemicals found in cranberries, apples, strawberries and red wine. Can you think of a better dessert: chocolate dipped strawberries with a glass of hearty red wine? My kind of eating.

But when you pick your chocolate, remember it's got to be real cacao, so look for chocolate with a high percentage of cacao — 60 percent or higher. More good news: Dark chocolate has fewer calories than other varieties, and when eaten in moderation, it lowers unhealthy
LDL cholesterol and helps prevent plague from building up in your arteries. The only problem is that it does take some getting used to, especially if you crave sweet things, but once you develop a taste for dark chocolate, there is no going back!

Storing: Once opened, chocolate should be stored tightly covered in a cool, dry place, at temperatures between 60 degrees and 78 degrees. In hot weather, consider storing chocolate in the refrigerator, wrapped tightly in foil and then sealed in a plastic bag so it will not absorb the odors from other foods. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before eating.

White bloom: Has your chocolate ever turned gray? That’s called white bloom, and although it looks unattractive, it does not change the taste of chocolate. Bloom happens when chocolate is stored in a humid or too warm place.

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 lb. big strawberries with stems, washed and dried very well
  • Put the semisweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl that can sit over the rim of a saucepan. Fill the bottom of the double boiler or the saucepan with a couple of inches of water and bring to a simmer.
  • Place the bowl with the chocolate over the pan. Turn off the heat and stir chocolate until smooth. Remove from the heat.
  • Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment.
  • Hold the strawberry by the stem and dip into the chocolate. Lift and turn the berry so the excess chocolate falls back into the bowl.
  • Place dipped strawberry on the paper. Repeat until all berries are dipped.
  • Let chocolate set about 30 minutes. Eat within a day.
The next recipe is from the American Heart Association. Find it -- and many more -- at

Cake Layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 chopped pecans
Tblsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
Tblsp. canola or corn oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pudding Layer
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
Tblsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Dust the bottom with 1 teaspoon cocoa powder.
  • For the cake layer, in a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, pecans, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the evaporated milk, oil, and vanilla, stirring until well combined. Using a rubber scraper or the back of a large spoon, spread the batter in the pan. (The batter will be very thick.)
  • For the pudding layer, in another medium bowl, stir together the sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder. Whisk in the water and vanilla. Pour over the batter. Do not stir.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched lightly in the center. (A cake tester or wooden toothpick doesn’t work well for testing doneness here.) Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, spooning the pudding over the cake.
  • Makes 12 servings. Per serving: 175 calories; 4g fat; no cholesterol; 105mg sodium; 33mg carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 23g sugar; 3g protein.

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