Chocolate has been revered for many centuries as a sign of love, commitment, and wealth. Certain types of chocolate are considered better and healthier than others, though.
In the United States, chocolate is typically more popular at certain times of the year over others, namely Valentine’s Day and Easter.
Chocolate is also a representation of what life should be. According to Forest Gump, a character from a movie of the same name, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
In short, there are surprises in life, just like there are surprises in what flavors of chocolates might be inside of a gift box.
You just have to deal with it, one sweet bite at a time, no matter what events (or flavors, in the case of chocolate) happen.
Specifically, dark chocolate is said to be the healthiest type of chocolate out there. It has many benefits that should be considered, even if there are a few health concerns about consuming chocolate in general.
However, a case needs to be made for the wonders of dark chocolate. What You’ll Learn From This Article
In this article, we will consider the following aspects of dark chocolate:
- A definition dark chocolate
- How dark chocolate is actually made
- A history of dark chocolate
- Why dark chocolate good for health
- Health benefits of dark chocolate
- Risks of dark chocolate
- Twilight Dark Chocolate Truffles
- Whole-Wheat Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
- Dark Chocolate Protein Balls
- Gluten-Free Cookie Bars
- Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake
- Dark Chocolate Popcorn
- Chocolate Tofu Mousse
- Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bites
- Ultra-Chocolate Smoothie
- Chocolate Peanut-Butter Energy Bars
- Making Dark Chocolate Sauce
Forest was certainly on to something when he said chocolate is akin to life. Historically, chocolate has been a sign of wealth as the rich were the ones who could afford it from overseas shipments.
Then again, more often than not, this type of chocolate was super pure. Milk chocolate revolutionized this situation, making chocolate more affordable for people who were not a part of the affluent classes.
Today, dark chocolate is widely available for many people, regardless of wealth. It can be found in various qualities of chocolate, too.
The higher the percentage assigned to a piece of chocolate, the more actual chocolate it contains.
Some of the more common percentages are 70 percent and 80 percent. Some people have expressed concerns that this ratio of chocolate is not as sweet as saying milk chocolate.
They become a little bit bitterer the higher the percentage goes. This higher percentage is great for many reasons.
Namely, it makes dark chocolate great for cooking and baking other things. The pure flavor means it packs a more powerful punch. This higher percentage also means it has more of the nutrients that are good for you.
What Exactly is Dark Chocolate?
Specifically, dark chocolate is a type of chocolate that possesses a higher content of cocoa butter and a lower content of milk and other additives.
There are strict guidelines set forth by government standards that state what dark chocolate can and cannot be.
As mentioned previously, this amount is based on a percentage. Believe it or not, dark chocolate belongs to the Healing Foods Pyramid because it is part of balanced, whole-foods diet that is plant based.
This version of the Food Pyramid looks at types of foods that nourish the body in a way that heals the body and sustains energy.
How is Dark Chocolate Made?
Dark chocolate comes from the same place that all other chocolate comes from pods from the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. These pods are between five and 12 inches long, and they can contain from 30 to 50 cocoa beans.
These pods are harvested when they are a vibrant yellow-orange color. They are then fermented by covering them in banana leaves for two to nine days.
This process brings out the flavor of chocolate, making it a little sweeter and somewhat less bitter.
Once the beans have been shipped from parts of Africa and Latin America, they are roasted and turned into cocoa liquor through a grinding process.
This process requires high amounts of pressure to yield both cocoa powder and cocoa butter.
These two ingredients are combined together with a little more cocoa butter and some sweeteners to make the chocolate that people know and love.
This process can be done through more grinding or through kneading and mixing various, raw ingredients into a heavy paste or thick liquor, which does not contain any alcohol.
The amount of cocoa powder and cocoa butter used depends on the percentage of chocolate that is being aimed for in a bit of dark chocolate.
Once more, these percentages can be as low as the amount of milk chocolate, or they can be as 70 or 80 percent.
Conching is the next step. This step rolls, kneads, heats, and aerates chocolate in a large agitator to smooth out the mixture in order to produce chocolate that is consistent and pure.
At this point, soy lecithin can be added for the sake of fluidity, which adds the final notes of aroma and flavor. The longer chocolate goes through the conching process, then the smoother it will be.
Conching is followed by tempering and molding. Tempering the chocolate slowly brings it to a specified temperature, and it can be done in a factory or at home.
This process allows for the cocoa butter to stabilize into a form that can be formed into molds for the sake of making various candies and bars.
Tempering is also what gives chocolate its famous shine and snap.
The great thing about dark chocolate is it can be melted and repurposed again after the initial tempering and molding processes.
There are endless things dark chocolate can be turned into. Please see the recipes further down in this article for more ideas.
History of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has a rich history and lore. The scientific name for the cacao tree from which chocolate is eventually made, Theobroma cacao, literally translates into “food of the gods.”
This name was given to this tree by the Incas, Mayans, and Aztecs. They believed it had a great source of power because of its medicinal properties.
Rulers like the great king Montezuma would drink a coffee-like substance called xocatl from the pods of these trees quite often throughout the day, supposedly as many as 50 times, to give them higher levels of virility.
This tree was discovered by the explorer the Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortes. He would eventually overthrow the Aztec empire and win most of what is now known as Mexico to be controlled by the Spanish crown.
His initial exploration to Mexico took place in 1518, where he aligned some of the natives to overthrow the powerful Aztecs.
During his time there, he drank xocatl with natives, and he learned to use cocoa beans as currency among the natives.
Historical speculation suggests that Cortes shipped chocolate back to Spain during one of the initial return journeys from Mexico along with other wonders like bouncing rubber balls, fans, shields, and obsidian mirrors.
Spanish monks began the initial steps of cultivating chocolate into the delicious treat that it has become known for today.
It slowly spread throughout Europe, mostly among the rich because of the costs to transport the beans from Mexico.
Also, affluent ladies were known for making a drink similar to xocatl that was hot and spicy, and they considered it to be an exotic drink.
Soon enough, explorers and monks learned how to grow Theobroma cacao in other locations, such as Africa, to make it more available at a lower price.
What is Dark Chocolate Good For?
Surprisingly, dark chocolate is considered a rather sweet superfood in many parts of the world today. It contains a lot of nutritious aspects that can hardly be beaten.
It is much better to consume than milk chocolate, which contains more sweeteners and additives to make it sweeter. Therefore, milk chocolate is not as healthy as dark chocolate.
One of the main reasons why dark chocolate is so highly upheld as a superfood is because it contains many antioxidants.
These antioxidants are tested using a process called Oxygen Radial Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). Basically, free radicals are pitted against antioxidants in certain foods to see how well they neutralize the free radicals.
The better antioxidants win the fight, then the higher the score. Cocoa beans are among some of the highest scoring foods according to the ORAC method.
Dark chocolate is also packed with polyphenols, flavonols, catechins, and other antioxidants that are biologically active all of the time.
Surprisingly, these antioxidants are great for cholesterol numbers. It lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL levels.
Basically, the antioxidants remove oxidized LDL particles and cleanse them, so they are no longer oxidized. Therefore, these oxidized LDL particles are no longer able to cause damage to cells.
Nutritional Value of Dark Chocolate
As stated previously, dark chocolate contains a lot of nutritional value. Here is some information to consider about the nutrition found in dark chocolate.
One bar of most types of dark chocolate that weighs 101 grams has about 605 calories.
Therefore, it should be consumed in moderation. It has 43 grams of fat, 25 grams of which are saturated. However, it contains many other facets of nutrition that need to be considered as they could very well outweigh these negatives.
|Dark chocolate contains the following:|
|*Daily value not established.|
|Nutrition Facts Of Dark Chocolate with 70 to 85 Percent Cacao Solids|
|Amount Per Serving||Amount Per 100gm Powder|
|Fiber||11 g||44 percent|
|Vitamin A||39.4 IU||1 percent|
|Vitamin K||7.4 mcg||9 percent|
|Niacin||11 mg||5 percent|
|Vitamin B12||0.3 mcg||5 percent|
|Calcium||73.7 mg||7 percent|
|Iron||12 mg||67 percent|
|Magnesium||230 mg||58 percent|
|Phosphorous||311 mg||31 percent|
|Potassium||722 mg||21 percent|
|Zinc||3.3 mg||22 percent|
|Copper||1.8 mg||89 percent|
|Manganese||2 mg||98 percent|
|Selenium||6.9 mcg||10 percent|
|Nutrition Facts Of Dark Chocolate with 60 to 69 Percent Cacao Solids|
|Amount Per Serving||Amount Per 100gm Powder|
|Fiber||9 g||36 percent|
|Vitamin A||56 IU||1 percent|
|Vitamin K||8.1 mcg||10 percent|
|Niacin||0.9 mg||5 percent|
|Vitamin B12||0.2 mcg||3 percent|
|Calcium||69.4 mg||7 percent|
|Iron||7.1 mg||39 percent|
|Magnesium||197 mg||49 percent|
|Phosphorous||291 mg||29 percent|
|Potassium||635 mg||18 percent|
|Zinc||3 mg||20 percent|
|Copper||1.4 mg||70 percent|
|Manganese||1.5 mg||74 percent|
|Selenium||9.4 mcg||13 percent|
A number of cacao solids in chocolate makes a difference nutritionally. Dark chocolate that has 70 to 85 percent cacao solids has more fiber, Vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium than dark chocolate that has 60 to 69 percent cacao solids.
Interestingly enough, dark chocolate that has 60 to 69 percent cacao solids has more Vitamins A and K, niacin, calcium, phosphorous, and potassium than dark chocolate that has 70 to 85 percent cacao solids.
Both of these options are viable ones for nutritional worthwhileness, but the higher the percentage of cacao solids, the better off the dark chocolate is for the body.
Dark Chocolate Consumption
There are many ways to consume dark chocolate. Xocatl is still an option today, though it is not preferred because of how bitter it tastes.
That does not change the fact that similar drinks are used in various parts of the world. For example, many people in the United States drink hot cocoa, which can be made from milk chocolate or dark chocolate.
Many sweet treats contain dark chocolate. Candy bars are the most common form of dark chocolate. These bars can contain nuts, caramel, peanut butter, and much more.
Smaller candies are made together into a sampler box – that famous box of chocolates Forest Gump kept referring to – and it can be flavored with various creams, mints, nuts, and even to resemble truffles.
There are other ways to consume dark chocolate, too. It can be grated over oatmeal or added to granola bars for an added zing of sweetness. Dark chocolate curls can provide a garnish to fruit plates, or it can be added to fruit dips.
One of the best ways to consume dark chocolate is to dip bananas in it before freezing them into a kind of popsicle. Actually, speaking of frozen goods, dark chocolate makes a great addition to various types of ice cream, too.
However, beware of the method dark chocolate is consumed. The more it is mixed with sugary sweets, the unhealthier it will become.
Therefore, dark chocolate needs to be consumed in as natural of a raw state as possible to make sure all of the nutritional values it offers are gained without adding on negative aspects like more sugars and fat.
It is also worth noting that 101 grams of dark chocolate are actually a lot to consume. Some people are able to break this type of bar into several snacks, which is great as it means the dark chocolate will be consumed in moderation.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
There are so many health benefits behind dark chocolate. These aspects are generally not considered to be helpful by many people – or they are just flat out not considered to exist at all – because dark chocolate is considered to be a sweet treat.
Therefore, many people might leave it out of their diets altogether. This error needs to be reconsidered, though, as the health benefits are great enough to warrant adding more dark chocolate in the rawest form possible to diets.
- As mentioned previously, dark chocolate has a great deal of nutritional value. The fact that it contains so much fiber alone is a testament to its abilities to keep the body moving, at least with the digestive tract. People who report concerns with constipation often find that eating a little dark chocolate will help to loosen their bowels a little bit.
- Dark chocolate is also a stimulant because it contains caffeine and theobromine. This boost will not keep you awake as long as say a cup of coffee, but it does give a little bit of an energy boost per each little amount that is consumed.
- The types of fats in dark chocolate are worthwhile to consume. They are saturated and monounsaturated, which means the body is able to digest them easier. This type of fat will mostly be consumed by the body and then processed without storing the fats for later.
- As mentioned previously, dark chocolate contains many antioxidants. Its antioxidant profile is actually greater than some fruits and vegetables according to ORAC scores and other studies that have been completed. It even beats out blueberries and acai berries, which are touted for their antioxidant capabilities.
- We have also already mentioned that dark chocolate is great for raising HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL cholesterol.
- It contains flavonols that stimulate the endothelium that lines arteries, which helps the body to produce nitric oxide. This gas is what sends signals arteries to relax, thus lessening blood flow resistance. Therefore, blood pressure lowers over time as dark chocolate is consumed.
- Because of lowering LDL cholesterol and improving blood pressure, dark chocolate is great at lowering the risk for cardiovascular diseases over the long term. A study conducted with 470 elderly men shows they were able to reduce this risk by 50 percent over a period of 15 years. While this process takes a long time, it is still worth considering. Therefore, the sooner it is added to a diet in a person’s life, the sooner it will impact cardiovascular disease.
- There are bioactive compounds in dark chocolate that makes it great for skin. The flavonols dark chocolate protects skin against sun damage by improving blood flow to the skin and keeping it dense and moisturized.
- Dark chocolate is also great for increasing and improving brain function. Once more, increased blood flow is to thank for this benefit. It can improve cognitive function in the elderly, especially those who present mental impairment. Some of this occurrence has to do with the perk of caffeine and theobromine.
- As mentioned previously, dark chocolate can fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are compounds in the body that are unbalanced and negatively affects cellular processes. This situation becomes rather concerning because of how these processes affect fighting environmental toxins that the body may be exposed to on a daily basis. The antioxidants in dark chocolate help to neutralize these free radicals. Hence, diseases of many kinds, including cancers, are less likely to form in the bodies of people who consume dark chocolate on a regular basis.
- Dark chocolate contains flavonoids and polyphenols in high amounts. These numbers are greater than those amounts found in wine and even tea. They also fight free radicals in the body with ease. The higher the cacao solid content of dark chocolate, the more flavonoids and polyphenols it will contain. Therefore, dark chocolate is all the better at fighting off cancer and preventing it from happening or relapsing.
- Heart health is also improved because of the increased blood flow dark chocolate provides.
- Dark chocolate is also great at lowering sugar content in the body, especially dark chocolate that contains higher levels of cacao solids. Only a small amount per day, about 0.88 ounces, is all that is needed to lower sugar numbers.
- As delicious as it is, dark chocolate can also help with weight loss by lowering the body’s BMI. Combined with an otherwise healthy diet and regular exercise, weight loss can happen rather rapidly with dark chocolate.
- The stimulants in dark chocolate are also great for powering through workouts. Since they give that little boost of energy, people find that they can sustain and endure a workout easier. Likewise, it is also great for a snack after a workout to remove fatigue. This benefit is a great one if the exercise happens earlier on in the day.
- Studies also indicate that dark chocolate that is high in cacao solids can be great for improving eyesight. Researchers found that those participants who consumed dark chocolate with at least 720 mg of cocoa flavonols were able to detect motion and to read better in low contrast. Most likely, this observation relates back to the improvement of blood flow in the body as the retina and brain both receive greater amounts of oxygen.
- Dark chocolate also activates microbes in the gut through fermentation, which produces more anti-inflammatory compounds for the body. Most of these compounds are great for the heart most of all, which means reducing inflammation in cardiovascular tissue and lowering the risk for strokes.
- Studies also indicate that dark chocolate affects fats and carbohydrates in relation to how they affect metabolism. It affects how the body synthesizes fatty acids, which reduces digesting and absorbing these fats and carbohydrates. Therefore, it makes the body feel more full for longer, which means it can also control appetite.
- Another way dark chocolate controls appetite is through decreasing resistance to the hormone insulin. Therefore, the body feels full for longer, and the body reduces ghrelin, which is known as the hunger hormone, to better distribute the relation of energy to cells.
- The generous supply of magnesium in dark chocolate is absolutely essential after a hard workout. Magnesium helps to fuel muscles, repair them, and to prevent them from cramping or spasming. Therefore, the body feels better sooner, which stops fatigue after exercise. Hence, the body feels like exercising more often because it can repair itself and rest easily.
- Dark chocolate is rather sweet in taste, so it is also a great aspect of sating sweet cravings that can ultimately wreck a diet plan. All the while, it packs a nutritious punch that other snacks simply do not possess. Furthermore, it contains fats that are good for the body instead of ones that will negatively impact weight loss and make the body feel sluggish.
- The theobromine in dark chocolate also has another aspect that is rather helpful. When consumed in large amounts, it causes a dip in blood pressure and provides more energy. Therefore, it can lead to lowering depression.
- Another mood booster found in dark chocolate is phenethylamine, which is turned into serotonin in the body. There is enough phenethylamine in dark chocolate to bring serotonin levels back to a baseline, so people with mental illnesses will really have a great boost in mental health from consuming small amounts of dark chocolates regularly.
- Because dark chocolate helps to lower insulin resistance and control blood sugar, it can play a crucial role in lowering chances of contracting diabetes.
- Theobromine can also antagonize activity in the vagus nerve, which is the part of the brain that triggers coughing fits. Some scientists are looking into a medication for cough suppressants using the theobromine from dark chocolate.
- Women will find that dark chocolate is also great for pregnancies. It improves fetal growth and helps to lower the risk of preeclampsia by increasing blood flow to the fetus and lowering blood pressure.
- One study indicates that red blood cells are distributed more evenly in people who consume dark chocolate. It makes them wider, which means they are more readily able to carry oxygen throughout various parts of the body.
- The antioxidants found in dark chocolate are also great for the immune system. Since these antioxidants lower inflammation, the body can handle removing viruses and negative bacteria more easily.
Health Risks of Eating Dark Chocolate
There are a few concerns with eating dark chocolate. First and foremost, the caffeine in dark chocolate can be a problem.
This consumption can raise heart rate, increase the chance for diarrhea, and it can also increase anxiety, irritability, and nervousness. Dark chocolate contains oxalates. These molecules contribute to making crystals that form kidney stones.
People who are predisposed to forming kidneys stones genetically or who have a history of kidney stones should avoid as much oxalate consumption as possible.
There are also concerns that dark chocolate can contribute to migraines because it contains tyramine. More studies are needed to understand the relationship between tyramine and migraines better.
Also, dark chocolate has a higher sugar content, so it can push hyperglycemia into triggering migraines, too.
Because chocolate is so high in sugar, it should be consumed in moderation. Now, as we mentioned previously, very little dark chocolate goes a long way. Rarely can a person consume an entire dark chocolate bar in one sitting because it is just too dense.
Hence, it is often mixed in with other recipes, such as the ones below.
Our Best Dark Chocolate Recipes
Since we are on the topic of recipes, we should consider some foods that pair well with dark chocolate. Some of these items are sweets, but others provide other nutritional benefits like more protein. Most of these recipes can be made with ease.
Twilight Dark Chocolate Truffles
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 4 1-ounce squares of dark baking chocolate
- 2 ¾ cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder (optional)
Combine the heavy cream, butter, baking chocolate, chocolate chips, and espresso powder (optional) in a saucepan over medium heat. Be sure to stir constantly, and cook the mixture until the chocolate has melted into a smooth and thick mixture.
Remove from heat and pour into a bowl and chill in refrigerator until the mixture hardens, which will take about one hour.
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and scoop small balls of the chocolate mixture onto the waxed paper. Store in refrigerator until the balls harden completely.
These treats should be stored iWhole Wheat Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownien a cool, dry place.
Full recipe here.
Whole-Wheat Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
- 1 cup of white, whole-wheat flour
- 1/3 cup of baking cocoa
- 1 ¼ teaspoons of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of dark chocolate morsels
- ¼ cup of vegetable oil
- ½ cup of light brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup of granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs (whites only)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups grated zucchini
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9-inch-square baking pan with foil.
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.
Melt 3/4 cup of the morsels in large, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for one minute and occasionally stir until smooth. Allow the melted morsels to cool slightly.
Stir in oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg whites, and vanilla extract. Then, mix in flour mixture before folding in zucchini.
Spread prepared batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of morsels over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Lift brownies from pan and cut into squares. Store in airtight container for up to five days.
Full recipe here.
Dark Chocolate Protein Balls
- 1 cup of rolled oats
- ½ cup of natural peanut butter
- 1/3 cup of honey
- ¼ cup of dark chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of flax seeds
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon of chocolate-flavored protein powder
Stir oats, peanut butter, dark chocolate, flax and chia seeds, and protein powder in a bowl until they are mixed thoroughly.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before scooping the mixture into balls. They need to be kept cold until they are served.
Full recipe here.
Gluten-Free Cookie Bars
Ingredients For Cookie Base:
- 2 cups of white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups of peanut butter
Ingredients For Toppings:
- ¾ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ¾ cup of dark chocolate chips
- ½ cup of raw pecans
- ½ cup of raw almonds, chopped
- 1 cup of flaked coconut
- 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and in a 9×13-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper.
Mix sugar and eggs together in a bowl until smooth, then stir in the peanut butter until well-blended. Pour peanut butter mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Bake in the preheated oven until cookie base is partly cooked, which will take about eight minutes.
Layer semisweet chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, pecans, almonds, and coconut onto the cookie base. Slowly pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the toppings.
Bake in the preheated oven until coconut is slightly brown, which will take about 30 minutes.
Cool completely before removing cookie bars from pan. Peel away parchment paper and cut into small squares using a sharp knife.
Full recipe here.
Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake
- ¼ cup of poppy seeds
- 1 cup of buttermilk
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup of butter
- 1 ¼ cups of white sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 tablespoons of baking powder
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extra
- ¾ cup of miniature dark chocolate chips
- Cinnamon sugar to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and lightly grease and flour a Bundt or angel food cake pan.
Pour the poppy seeds into the buttermilk in a small bowl. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites to medium peaks and set them aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, blending well between additions.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into the egg mixture and fold gently into themix. Stir in the poppy seeds and milk mixture along with the vanilla extract.
Gently fold in the beaten egg whites until they are just barely incorporated. Do not overwork this mixture.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and cinnamon sugar. Pour the remaining batter over the top, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon sugar.
With a knife, lightly swirl in the chocolate chips and cinnamon sugar, so they are dispersed throughout.
Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, which will take about one hour. Allow cake to cool completely before removing from the pan and serving.
Full recipe here.
Dark Chocolate Popcorn
- ¾ cup of white sugar
- ½ cup of butter
- ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup of corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 cups of popped popcorn
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Bring sugar, butter, cocoa powder, and corn syrup to a gentle boil in a saucepan, and cook it until thickened, which will take one to two minutes.
Stir in vanilla extract. Pour popcorn into a large bowl, add cocoa mixture, and stir until popcorn is well-coated. Spread evenly in prepared baking dish.
Bake in the preheated oven, occasionally stirring, until mixture is set, which will take about 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool to room temperature before breaking into clumps.
Full recipe here.
Chocolate Tofu Mousse
- 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup of soy milk
- 1/2 of vanilla bean, scraped
- 10 ounces of silken tofu, drained
- 1/4 cup of raspberries
- 1/4 cup of blueberries
Place chopped bittersweet chocolate in a bowl. In a saucepan, combine soy milk and scraped vanilla bean. Bring to a boil and pour over chocolate.
Let it stand for one minute. Remove vanilla bean and whisk until smooth. In a blender, process drained silken tofu until creamy, which will take about ten.
Add chocolate mixture and blend until smooth for about 20 to 30. Spoon into five individual bowls and refrigerate until mousse is firm for about one hour.
Before serving, divide 1/4 cup each raspberries and blueberries among bowls.
Full recipe here.
Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bites
- 2 tablespoons of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- 1 small banana, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Place chocolate chips in a heavy-duty, zip-top, plastic bag or small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for one minute or until the chocolate melts.
Dip banana pieces in chocolate. Allow cooling. Refrigeration would help with the chocolate setting. These treats can also be frozen for a cool treat.
Full recipe here.
- 3/4 cup of dark chocolate low-fat frozen yogurt
- 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
- Dark chocolate shavings for garnish
Puree frozen yogurt, cocoa, and milk in a blender until smooth. Pour into a chilled glass, and garnish with chocolate shavings before serving. Freeze again if this treat is not consumed immediately.
Full recipe here.
Chocolate Peanut-Butter Energy Bars
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 cup of light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup of peanut butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons of canola oil
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups of barley flakes or rolled oats
- 3/4 cup of dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup of dry-roasted peanuts
- 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided into ¾ cup and ¼ cup
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and peanut butter until well-combined. Beat in eggs, oil, and vanilla.
Stir in flour mixture. Add barley flakes (or rolled oats), cranberries, peanuts, and 3/4 cup chocolate chips, stirring to combine.
Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
In a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. With a fork, drizzle chocolate over bars and refrigerate until set. Once it has set, cut into 24 bars.
Full recipe here.
Making Dark Chocolate Sauce
One of the most versatile methods to use dark chocolate is to turn it into a sauce. It can be used in many recipes, including an addition to trail mix and oatmeal bars. Here is a simple recipe to making the most delicious dark chocolate sauce with ease. Ingredients
- 50 grams of dark chocolate
- 25 grams of butter
- 125 ml of double dream
- 1 tablespoon of caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon of Disaronno liqueur (optional)
First and foremost, be sure to use dark chocolate that has at least 70 percent of cocoa solids. Shave the chocolate into smaller chunks before melting it in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water until it runs smooth.
Then, heat all of the other ingredients in a small saucepan until they are evenly combined. Remove this mixture from the heat and stir it through melted chocolate slowly.
Processing Dark Chocolate
There are many ways to make use of dark chocolate in a diet every day. Some people prefer to use a handheld grater to perform this process. However, there are easier ways. Food processors are a great way to chop or grate dark chocolate with ease.
One of the best models is the KitchenAid KFC3516ER 3.5 Cup Mini Food Processor. This model is rather compact, so it is perfect for smaller projects, like chopping up a little dose of dark chocolate. After all, a little dark chocolate goes a long way.
It has a 3.5 cup work bowl that is made of polycarbonate plastic, so it is perfect for compact jobs. It also has a locking blade and a handle. It comes with a pour spout for easy serving, which can be especially beneficial if a mixture of dark chocolate starts to run a little wet.
This food processor only has two settings and a pulse feature, so it allows for very precise control over whether or not the chops will be coarse or fine. It is super compact in design, so it can be used every day.
This model is also rather easy to clean. The work bowl, lid, and blade are all dishwasher safe. The cord stores by wrapping around the food processor, and it can be easily stored because of its compact design.
Since it does not take up much space, it can actually just sit out on the counter, so it is in easy reach and readily accessible.
Dark chocolate sauce even can be made using this machine because of the drizzle basin that it has on the lid. It makes adding liquid into the processor rather easy, especially while the unit is running.
Other ingredients can be added too, like nuts and seeds to make a mixture of trail mix. It will also handle basic, parsley, pepper, fennel, salt, dates, and figs. However, it is not best to be used for larger pieces, like vegetables and fruits.
For some people, this food processor might be a little on the small side. However, KitchenAid makes another model that can handle those larger jobs.
The KitchenAid KFP1133ER 11-Cup Food Processor with Exact Slice System is perfect for larger chopping jobs.
It has an 11-cup processing work bowl. This model also comes with an adjustable system called ExactSlice that will help to judge thicker versus thinner consistencies.
Therefore, it takes the guesswork out of finding the right chopping or grinding situation. It also has a wide-mouth feed tube that the smaller model we previously considered does not possess.
This model has multiple speeds, too, including high, low, and pulse. These controls make sure the precision you need for chopping dark chocolate is right at your fingertips.
The larger work bowl means you can work with many ingredients at once instead of one at a time.
It will chop ingredients together with ease. Therefore, the perfect trail mix with dark chocolate shavings or chunks can be yours without having to worry about ingredients that are not uniform in size.
This article considers many aspects of dark chocolate. We considered what dark chocolate it is and its history. We also took an in-depth look at the nutritional value and facts about dark chocolate.
We also considered twenty-some benefits about using dark chocolate, in moderation of course, in your diet routinely.
There are also many recipes that make use of this delicious treat, even though we only scratched the surface on all the options that are out there to consider.
Dark chocolate may be bitter in taste, but it is a taste that is worth taking on.
A little bit of this treat goes a long way, so you really will not struggle to find ways to include it in your diet. However, making sure the few health risks that are to consider are analyzed routinely is a must.
Maybe Forest Gump was onto something when he compared life to a box of chocolate. You might not know what you are going to get, but the sweet reward is more than worth it.