Chocolate for Everyone! (Fun facts and two luscious recipes)

If you have heard lately about chocolate actually being healthy for you, what you heard is right.  Chocolate does provide some antioxidants. These antioxidants flush out free radicals and the damage they cause to your body. Chocolate is also good for your heart, and your mind. Eating and consuming chocolate releases hormones in your body that when they reach your brain, trigger senses of well-being and happiness.

It all starts with cacao. Cacao trees thrive beneath the shady branches of taller trees in the rainforest. Cacao trees won’t begin to bear fruit, however, until they are at least three to five years old.

A cacao pod contains about 30-50 almond-sized seeds—enough to make about seven milk chocolate candy bars!

The average American will eat about 10-12 lbs of chocolate per year.

Chocolate melts in your mouth because its cocoa butter component has a melting point that is slightly below the human body’s average temperature.

600,000 tons is the average global consumption of cocoa beans per year.

Here are a couple of fun recipes to make for your Valentine – or yourself!

Molten Lava Cake
6 (1-ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
2 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (or orange non-alcohol flavoring)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease 6 (6-ounce) custard cups. Melt the chocolates and butter in the microwave, or in a double boiler. Add the flour and sugar to chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and orange liqueur. Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups. Place in the oven and bake for 14 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates. Serve warm.

Chocolate Fondue
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, reserve 1/4 cup to thin if fondue begins to thicken
4 bittersweet chocolate bars, chopped, 3 1/2 ounces each
2 tablespoons Frangelico or Amaretto liqueur, optional
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or almonds, optional

Suggested Dippers:
Hazelnut or almond biscotti
Salted pretzel sticks
Cubed pound cake
Sliced bananas
Stem strawberries
Sectioned navel oranges
Ripe fresh diced pineapple

Directions:
Heat 1/2 cup cream in a heavy non-reactive saucepot over moderate heat until cream comes to a low boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add chocolate. Let the chocolate stand in hot cream 3 to 5 minutes to soften, then whisk chocolate together with the cream. Stir in liqueur/flavoring and/or chopped nuts and transfer the fondue to a fondue pot or set the mixing bowl on a rack above a small lit candle. If fondue becomes too thick, stir in reserved cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency. Arrange your favorite dippers in piles on a platter alongside chocolate fondue with fondue forks, bamboo skewers or seafood forks, as utensils, for dipping.

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.