New Recipe: All things chocolate | Food & Cooking

Chocolate is one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world and its melt-in-your-mouth goodness is something to definitely be enjoyed.

Chocolate is used to enrich luscious desserts, create special drinks and treats, enrich stews and season roasts. We may find chocolate for cooking in the form of baking bars, chips or the powder form of cocoa. Cocoa is dried chocolate liquor with most of the cocoa butter removed. We usually think of chocolate for desserts, but it also adds depth to Mexican mole (a spicy meat stew), and can be used to form a flavored rub for meats.

Chocolate sometimes can get a bad rap for causing weight gain, but chocolate does have some nutritional benefits, especially dark chocolate, because it is lower in saturated fat and sugar than milk chocolate. It is high in antioxidants and flavonoids. Chocolate is also a good source of magnesium, iron and calcium. Some studies suggest that chocolate could lower cholesterol levels, prevent memory loss, and reduce risk of cardiovascular problems. Look for chocolate that is 60% to 70% cacao for the most health benefit. Even if chocolate has nutritional benefits, remember moderation is the key. Think 1 ounce when indulging.

A traditional St. Patrick’s day meal

Chocolate banana bread

Try this recipe that combines popular banana bread with chocolate to make it doubly delicious. It combines some whole wheat flour with the all-purpose flour and uses baking cocoa rather than melted chocolate. I have reduced the sugar some in the recipe. This bread has a great flavor and is a favorite of my grandkids.

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, bananas, milk and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Fold in the pecans. Spoon into a greased 5 x 9-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55–65 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert on a wire rack to cool completely. Source: “Living Well, More Than a Cookbook,” National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences.

Take advantage of citrus fruits

Chocolate, cereal & nut clusters

These chocolate cereal clusters are a treat I have made frequently when I want a sweet treat that is healthier than many other choices. It is also so quick and easy to make. I use different kinds of cereal I might have on hand, different kinds of dried fruit, and sometimes add ¼ cup peanut butter to melt in with the chips.

2 (10 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips, 1 Dark and 1 Bittersweet or Semi-Sweet

4 cups dry cereal (assortment such as Bran Flakes or other flakes, Kix, Cheerios)

2/3 cup dried cranberries, raisins, cut-up apricots or dried cherries (or combination of)

½ cup sliced almonds or other chopped nuts

Cover a baking sheet pan with waxed paper or parchment paper. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler over hot water or melt in the microwave. Stir frequently and be careful not to scorch them. Remove from heat and stir in the cereal, dried fruit and nuts. Stir well so all ingredients are coated with the melted chocolate. Add additional cereal, fruit or nuts if needed. Drop mixture by the spoonful onto prepared baking sheet. Place in refrigerator for clusters to firm up. When firm, remove clusters from waxed paper and store in zip-lock bag.

Eating a heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring and bland

Flourless Olive Oil Chocolate Cake

For those who are gluten and lactose intolerant, this cake made without flour and using olive oil rather than butter, is the perfect choice. It has a rich chocolate flavor and espresso powder provides you with a taste of coffee as well. For the best flavor to the cake, use a good brand of olive oil.

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1½ teaspoons espresso powder

5 large eggs, room temperature

Optional: vanilla ice cream, mixed fresh berries, and whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan with cooking spray. Top with a sheet of parchment paper; secure spring-form ring on top. In a double boiler, stir chocolate and oil until smooth. Remove from heat; stir in espresso powder. Set aside. Beat eggs and ½ cup sugar on high speed until eggs are pale; set aside. Beat remaining ½ cup sugar into chocolate mixture. Add egg mixture and beat until combined (batter will be thick). Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until puffed and set, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioner’s sugar; serve with desired toppings. Source: “Taste of Home,” April/May 2022.

Flourless triple chocolate cookies

Here is another recipe that is ideal for chocolate-lovers that are gluten-intolerant. Three different kinds of chocolate are used in the cookies. Enjoy!

5½ oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

3 egg whites, at room temperature

1½ cups powdered sugar, plus 1 to 1½ tablespoons for dusting

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2¼ oz. bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped

¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt semisweet chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber scraper to avoid scorching. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Beat egg whites in a large bowl in an electric mixer on medium-high until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1 cup powdered sugar until mixture resembles marshmallow crème. Whisk together ½ cup powdered sugar, the cocoa powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a bowl; beat into egg white mixture on low speed until soft peaks form. Stir in cooled melted semisweet chocolate until dough is a thick and fudgey consistency. Fold in chopped bittersweet chocolate. Drop dough in 2-teaspoon portions about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Lightly sprinkle with coarse sea salt and dust with 1–2 tablespoons powdered sugar. Bake until cookie edges are set and tops begin to crack, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be cooled in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Source: “Allrecipes,” December/January 2022.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.

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