Chocolate is an obsession, a secret pleasure and has been blamed for acne, weight gain and bad behavior in children. However, recent ongoing studies have found that chocolate is actually healthy for you in small amounts. Chocolate has many of the benefits of dark leafy vegetables such as antioxidants and flavonoids, which are extremely beneficial for the heart. Dark chocolate has been proven to lower cholesterol and blood pressure by impressive amounts.
It is important to taste the chocolate you are using in your recipe in order to gauge the impact its texture and flavor will have on the finished product. Some lower quality chocolate has a waxy mouth feel and perform poorly when tempered. In order to get the best experience out of testing the chocolate the following steps are valuable.
- When you eat chocolate, it should be slowly, with attention and pleasure.
- Always try a piece at room temperature, never cold.
- Place a one ounce piece on your tongue to melt slowly.
- Do not ever chew it; chocolate should be smooth and luscious without being waxy.
- Taste the complex flavors without any additives to mask its true character. Do not taste flavored chocolates or use them if possible.
The best choice of chocolate to enjoy as a healthy snack is dark; the more cocoa content the better. A rich decadent square of 85% dark chocolate is extremely beneficial without all the added sugar and fat in sweeter versions. Dark chocolate has fat but only about 25% of the fat in this treat is bad for the body. Dark chocolate is not a health food and you should weigh the calories carefully and not eat it in excess. A little can go a very long way. Dark chocolate is a wonderful choice for any cake flavorings or decorations because it has a lovely striking dark color and complex rich taste. Dark chocolate curls are the topper of choice for traditional desserts such as black forest cake and tiramisu. Dark chocolate is also perfect for ganache and truffles.
If milk chocolate is your treat of choice be aware the calorie, sugar and fat content is higher than dark chocolate. There is probably only 10-15% chocolate in this treat so many of the health benefits are lessened simply due to percentage. There are nutrients in milk chocolate such as potassium, vitamin B1, D and E. However, milk chocolate is not the best food to get these from when you weigh in its sugar and fat content. Milk chocolate is a lovely chocolate to use when doing cake designs but it is often too soft to use for run outs or decorations that require the design element to stand up. This smooth confection is wonderful for flavoring cakes and frostings but you must adjust the sugar in the recipe in order to offset the extra sweetness in the milk chocolate.
White chocolate is not technically chocolate at all; it is made with cocoa butter but no cacao. Basically, the health benefits in white chocolate are the vitamins and minerals you would get from milk. White chocolate is a fabulous choice for cake decorating because it is deliciously creamy and can be formed into many pretty design components such as run outs and boxes to fill with gum paste flowers or fresh berries. It can also be used to create wide curls and marbled cut outs with dark chocolate.
No matter what chocolate you wish you wish to eat and design with try to at least buy superior quality products such as Lindt or Michel Cluizel and savor the chocolate's amazing smoothness and flavor.