BY PATRICIA WILSON | PHOTOS BY SARAH A. MILLER | Jan/Feb 2017
Don’t save your love of chocolate just for Valentine’s Day. Every day offers an opportunity for a tiny bite of pleasure.
Start the day with creamy hot chocolate espresso. Enjoy a rich chocolate mug cake. Savor the decadence of a dense chocolate-almond cake.
I have recipes for chocolate cake, truffles and homemade hot chocolate that offer sweet indulgences and healthy benefits.
Add sweetness to your life by feeding your soul some happiness!
ALL ABOUT CHOCOLATE
Cacao is chocolate in its raw, minimally processed form. Native to South America, the cacao tree was revered by the Aztecs. Cacao is considered to be a super food. It is naturally rich in antioxidants, magnesium, iron and calcium.
This type of chocolate has a positive influence on brain chemistry and is a natural mood-booster.
The less processing and refining chocolate undergoes, the more nutrients it retains. Cacao in the forms of powder, nibs and bars offers a wealth of nutrients and is great for baking.
The cacao bean is not sweet. So, for a healthier sweet treat, instead of using sugar to sweeten your chocolate treats, use honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, stevia or even fruit spread.
Cherry, raspberry and apricot all pair nicely with chocolate.
White chocolate also comes from the cacao bean, but the natural dark chocolate liquor has been removed. White chocolate is a blend of milk solids, sugar and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is a cholesterol-free, heart-healthy fat.
Nut butters, like peanut and almond, are high in fiber and antioxidants. They are naturally free of cholesterol and provide a creamy texture in baking.
Coconut flour is a great alternative to wheat flour because it is not a grain and it is high in fiber.
Coconut oil benefits the body and brain in countless ways and is an excellent alternative to butter in baking because it adds nice moisture. Coconut palm sugar when blended with peanut butter creates a wonderful grainy fudge-like texture.
A fresh perspective on chocolate is a great way to bring unexpected pleasure into your day!
Hot Chocolate Espresso
• 1 cup of prepared hot espresso or coffee
• 3 heaping teaspoons of raw cacao powder
• 2 packets of stevia
• 1 teaspoon of coconut palm sugar
• 1/4 cup of almond creamer
Blend well in your favorite mug to your desired taste and serve hot. This recipe is so simple. The benefits of homemade hot chocolate are many. It has minimal sugar, is non-dairy and is full of essential nutrients.
Chocolate Cherry Mug Cake
• 2 eggs
• heaping 1/4 cup of semi-sweetened cacao chips
• 1 tablespoon coconut flour
• 3 tablespoons chocolate almond milk
• 2 tablespoons coconut oil
• 2 tablespoons cherry fruit spread
Combine all ingredients into a microwaveable mug and stir well with a fork. Microwave for 30 seconds and then give it another good stir to blend well. Microwave it for 30 seconds at a time for about 90 seconds until it is done. The cake will puff up a little and then settle. When the cake is done, it will pull away slightly from the mug. Let cool. Top with cherry fruit spread or melted chocolate chips.
For a vanilla caramel version, substitute with white chocolate chips and almond caramel creamer instead of the chocolate; omit the fruit spread.
Chocolate Almond Ramekin Cake
• 1 egg
• heaping 1/8 cup semi-sweetened cacao chips
• 1 teaspoon coconut flour
• 1 generous spoonful (about 1/8 cup) of
• 2 teaspoons coconut oil
Mix ingredients in a small ramekin and stir well. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir again with a fork until blended. Microwave for another 30 seconds or so. Allow to cool. Top with melted white chocolate, if desired. Serve warm.
To start, mix any of the suggested combinations below in a glass bowl. Adjust the flavorings to your preference. Let the mixture chill in the refrigerator. When chilled, roll into small balls and place on parchment. To garnish, dip each ball in melted chocolate or roll the truffles in your choice of topping. Place in a paper cup and chill until serving. Each recipe makes about a dozen truffles.
Cream Cheese Truffles
• 1/2 package of softened cream cheese
• 1/2 of an organic 70% dark chocolate bar, melted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
Chocolate Ganache Truffles
• 1/2 cup semi-sweetened cacao chips, melted
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
(or your favorite flavor or liqueur)
• 2 tablespoons of heavy coconut almond creamer
Chocolate Almond Truffles
• 1/2 cup maple-almond butter
• 1/4 cup coconut flour
• 2 packets of stevia
• 1/2 cup of melted white chocolate chips, for dipping
Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
• 1/2 cup of unsweetened organic peanut butter
• 1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
pinch of salt
•1/2 cup of melted semi-sweetened cacao chips,
Toppings: shredded coconut, cacao powder, coconut sugar, chopped nuts.