Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category
Friday, July 8th, 2016
To our loyal Choclatique blog followers: It isn’t too often that I forward a scientific study to our website. In this case I will make an exception. While I follow most of them, many are very boring, but this one caught my attention. That said, I must point out that this was a pilot study with a very small sample size (just 15 people) and a very short duration (just 1 week). The results and conclusions, while instructive, are not projectable to the population at large.
We have known for years that chocolate has over 300 beneficial chemical compounds. Now, a study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences has shown that chocolate can improve markers of cardiovascular disease, including the reduction of belly fat, and only after one week of consumption.
When we originally formulated Choclatique Q-91, our functional chocolate, we knew that it was developed and formulated with many healthful benefits in mind.
- Choclatique Q-91 is a premium dark chocolate rich in flavanols and antioxidants.
- Choclatique Q-91 is our super-dark, bittersweet, premium chocolate high in cacao mass.
- One of the most pleasant effects of eating Choclatique Q-91 is the “euphoric feeling” that many people experience after indulging.
- Recent medical research has linked the antioxidants found in cacao—the fruit from which chocolate is made—to decreases in blood pressure and reductions of “bad” cholesterol levels.
- Dark chocolate is a known to be a safe stimulant (and is also thought to be an aphrodisiac).
- Choclatique Q-91 is low in sugar and rich in flavanols which many physicians and nutritionists say are beneficial to your health.
Now grab a piece of dark chocolate and read on to see what the researchers have to say about the potential benefits of chocolate.
Date: June 27, 2016
Natural Health, Natural Medicine
A study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences has revealed something quite counterintuitive about chocolate, one of the world’s most prized ‘high-fat’ foods. This strangely medicinal ‘sweat treat,’ which ironically you find in the candy aisle at the pharmacy, improved markers of cardiovascular disease, including the reduction of belly fat, and only after one week of consumption.
Researchers from the Department of Neuroscience, Division of Human Nutrition, University of Tor Vergata, Rome, in a paper titled ‘Effects of dark chocolate in a population of Normal Weight Obese women: a pilot study,’ describe the effects of 100 gram of dark chocolate taken for one week (approximately a 3 ounce bar) in so-called ‘normal weight obese (NWO)’ syndrome subjects.
NWO syndrome is defined as ‘an excessive body fat associated with a normal body mass index and characterized by a higher risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality,’ and has been found to be associated with a 2.2 fold increased risk of cardiovascular mortality in women compared with those with low body fat. Generally, those with NWO have 30% or more total body fat mass percentage and significantly higher values of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-α.  
The study looked at the effects of dark chocolate consumption on the following:
- Blood lipid profiles
- Biochemical parameters (e.g. interleukins)
- Blood pressure
- Abdominal circumference (i.e. ‘belly fat’)
A modest sample size of 15 women with NWO syndrome, aged 20-40 years, were included in the study. They received 100 grams of dark chocolate (DC) containing 70% cocoa for 7-days. Dual energy-X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was used to measure body composition. Blood pressure, anthropometric measurements, biochemical parameters and plasma levels of some cytokines were measured before and after DC consumption.
The results were described as follows:
After DC [dark chocolate] consumption, we observed a significant increase in the HDL cholesterol level (Delta% = +10.41±13,53; p ≤ 0.05), a significant decrease of total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio (Delta %= -11.45±7.03; p ≤ 0.05), LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio (Delta % = -11.70±8.91; p ≤ 0.05), and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) (Delta % = -32.99±3.84; p ≤ 0.05). In addition, a reduction in abdomen circumference was observed. We also found a positive correlation between changes in atherogenic indices, and IL-1Ra, abdomen reduction.
The authors concluded:
Our findings suggest that regular consumption of DC could be useful in maintaining a good atherogenic profile, due to the favorable effects on HDL cholesterol, lipoprotein ratios and inflammation markers.
This study should debunk several myths regarding chocolate consumption, such as ‘it makes you fat,’ ‘it clogs your arteries,’ or ‘it is bad for blood sugar.’ While low-cocoa chocolate, which is often high in sugar and may contain cow’s milk products, preservatives and lower quality fats, may not translate into the benefits observed in this study, a high-quality, high-cocoa chocolate may go quite a long way in enhancing general health and well-being. This is especially so if one chooses organically-produced, fair-trade and preferably raw chocolate. The raw part is especially important as the potent antioxidant compounds in cocoa are found at much higher and physiologically relevant concentrations in the non-heated and unprocessed forms. Indeed, according to the authors of this study, “[the] health properties of cocoa consumption were mainly related [in previous research] to the antioxidant properties of polyphenolic compounds, among others monomeric flavanols, epicatechin, catechin and oligomeric, procyanidins.”
The specific sample of dark chocolate used in this study was assayed to contain the following compounds:
It is believed that one of the primary lipid-modulating, and HDL-raising compounds in high-quality chocolate is the saturated stearic acid found in the cocoa butter. This is also a counterintuitive finding since many decades of propaganda has convinced the mainstream that ‘saturated’ fats are bad and ‘unsaturated’ fats are good. As the researchers state:
Because of its high saturated fat content, chocolate is often postulated to have a hypercholesterolemic effect. However, the high content of stearic acid (~30% of fatty acids) is considered to be neutral with respect to total and LDL cholesterol, and positive on serum concentration of HDL.”
It is truly remarkable that the dark chocolate was capable of raising the so-called ‘good’ HDL cholesterol 10% within only 7 days. This is a feat pharmaceutical lipid-modulating drugs can not accomplish, unless we are talking about patented forms of niacin (Niaspan) or fish oil (Lovaza), which really don’t count since they are really just glorified dietary supplements.
Previously, we looked at how chocolate – believe it or not – could replace the need for the $29 billion dollar plus cholesterol-lowering statin drug industry, by addressing and remedying the underlying pathology of the blood vessels (endothelial dysfunction) that leads to atherosclerosis and eventual cardiac morbidity and mortality. We feel the research, if you would like to peruse it, is remarkably compelling: Chocolate Gives Statins A $29 Billion Run For Their Money
When it is all said and done, chocolate should not be viewed simply as a natural “medicine,’ to suppress bodily symptoms or clinical parameters, as anyone who ‘loves’ the way it makes them feel can plainly tell. As my friend Marc David pointed out in his recent article on Vitamin P[leasure], the experience of joy within the enjoyment of chocolate is itself a highly medicinal ‘nutritional fact’ that will never make it onto the label of a product, nor will be easily (if ever) comprehended through clinical trials. Let the research support what most of us already know: food can be medicine, yes, but the point is to use it in moderate, culinary doses so that mega-dose, heroic ‘medicine’ will never become necessary. [this is one of the basic principles of my project with Tania Melkonian called EATomology]
For additional research on the health benefits of chocolate and/or cocoa please visit our research page dedicated to the topic: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/substance/chocolate
 ROMERO-CORRAL A, SOMERS VK, SIERRA-JOHNSON J, KORENFELDY, BOARIN S, KORINEK J, JENSEN MD, PARATI G, LOPEZJIMENEZ F. Normal weight obesity: a risk factor for cardiometabolic dysregulation and cardiovascular mortality. Eur Heart J 2010; 31: 737-746.
 DI RENZO L, GLORIA-BOTTINI F, SACCUCCI P, BIGIONI M, ABENAVOLI L, GASBARRINI G, DE LORENZO A. Role of interleukin-15 receptor alpha polymorphisms in normal weight obese syndrome. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol 2009; 22: 105-113.
 DI RENZO L, GALVANO F, ORLANDI C, BIANCHI A, DI GIACOMO C, LA FAUCI L, ACQUAVIVA R, DE LORENZO A. Oxidative stress in normal-weight obese syndrome. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2010; 18: 2125-2130.
 MEHRINFAR R, FRISHMAN WH. Flavanol-rich cocoa: a cardioprotective nutraceutical. Cardiol Rev 2008; 16: 109-115.
© June 27, 2016 GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here http://www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter.
Friday, June 24th, 2016
This cake was originally made at the Palm Grill in Burlingame, California and was one of my favorite recipes reserved for brunch only. It was a recipe I shared in my first cookbook, Stolen Secrets. I tried to squeeze it in to Choclatique, but it wound up on the cutting room floor.
If you are looking for dessert drama without all the drama of making what appears to be a professional pastry chef’s labor of love, then try this Mille-Feuille Aux Chocolat. It’s just cocoa crepes and chocolate cream cheese frosting. A little bit of patience is required to stack the crepes and frost the layers. You do need to let it chill for at least 6 hours before attempting to cut it, but the results are well worth the modest effort. Hint: Most of the flavor is in the frosting.
Prep Time: 40 to 50 minutes
Chilling Time: 8 hours (2 hours for crepes plus 6 hours for the completed cake)
Yield: One 8-inch cake (serves 60 to 8 people)
For the cocoa crepes:
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Choclatique Unsweetened Natura Cocoa Powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2-1/4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Butter for the pan
For the filling:
1-1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 cups cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons Choclatique Unsweetened Natura Cocoa Powder, sifted
1/3 cup Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate, melted
1/3 cup orange liqueur (or 3 tablespoons of frozen orange juice concentrate)
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon cold strong coffee
1/4 cup Choclatique Chocolate Curls (for decorating)
To make the crepe batter:
- In a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, all-purpose flour sugar and cocoa powder. Whisk in the salt.
- In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until smooth and webby (it will be very thick).
- In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the butter, then the milk and the vanilla and almond extracts, until the batter is smooth (if there are any lumps, strain the batter through a fine-mesh sieve and into a medium bowl).
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (the batter can be made a day ahead and held refrigerated).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Set an 8-inch nonstick skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush a little butter on the pan for the flavor, browning and texture.
- Gently stir the crêpe batter, then pour 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet. Holding the skillet by the handle, tilt and turn the skillet to quickly disperse the batter; pour off any access batter back into the bowl.
- Cook the crepe until the underside pulling away from the sides, about 1-1/2 minutes. Lightly jerk the skillet to loosen the crepe, then flip the crepe over using a spatula, a more vigorous jerking motion or your fingers.
- Cook on the other side for about 30 seconds, then slide the crepe onto the parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.
- Repeat until all of the batter is used (you’ll end up with about 20 crepes total, and will need 18 for the cake). Refrigerate the crepes on the baking sheet until completely chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.
To make the cream cheese filling:
- In a fine-mesh sieve set over the bowl of a stand mixer, sift the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder. Add the cream cheese, orange liquor, orange marmalde and the cold coffee. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer combine the mixture on low speed until well blended and smooth.
- Lightly butter the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan to make it easier to release.
- Remove the crepes from the refrigerator. Place 1 crepe in the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan so it lies flat. Add 1/4 cup of the filling to the center of the crepe and use a small offset spatula to evenly spread the filling over the crêpe. Repeat with the remaining filling and 17 more crêpes.
- Cover the springform pan with food film and chill the cake layers in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or, better yet overnight.
- Refrigerate the leftover filling this will be your final frosting to finish the cake.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator, undo the springform pan and set it on a cake plate or platter.
- Evenly spread the remaining filling on top and sides of the cake.
- Sprinkle chocolate curls over the top of the frosted cake.
- Slice and serve.
ChefSecret: Crepes are amazingly easy to make, but if you’re feeling a bit lazy and don’t want to bother making the cocoa crepes fresh you can find frozen plain crepes in your grocer’s freezer.
Friday, June 17th, 2016
Watch out Carnegie Deli, Choclatique is in the house (or at least in the bakery). Who doesn’t love a beautiful Babka… that’s a crumb-topped coffee cake?
This famous New York-style coffee cake recipe is derived from Eastern European Jewish bakeries and today is most often found in better delis and bakeries in New York City. While you may know it as a loaf cake, it is also luscious in the form of a muffin. You can devour this delectable hot-out-of-the-oven and consume every sweet, gooey, crumb faster than you can say, “What’s up?”
Prep and proof time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes (the internal temperature should be 190°to F 200°F)
Yield: 40 medium babka muffins
For the dough:
6 packets or 4-1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1-3/4 cup warm water
7-8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1-1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons sea salt
For the chocolate filling:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces box instant chocolate pudding (I’m not one to use boxed ingredients, but this one works)
1 large egg
1/2 cup Choclatique Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup water
For the crumb topping:
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
For the chocolate drizzle:
1-1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons Choclatique Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoon warm milk (just to get the perfect drizzle consistency)
For the dough:
- Start by mixing the yeast, sugar and warm water. Let it sit until it begins to dissolve and foam.
- Add the remaining dough ingredients and mix well. The dough should have a smooth, springy consistency. If it’s a bit sticky, you can add a little more flour and knead until smooth. Don’t add too much or it will be tough and dry.
- Cover the dough with food film and let rise for one hour in a warm place in your kitchen.
For the chocolate filling:
- Combine all the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
For the crumb topping:
- In a medium-size bowl, use forks or your fingers to combine crumb topping ingredients to create large clumps of crumb topping. Set aside.
Preparing the muffins:
- Line two muffin tins with paper cupcake liners and coat with non-stick spray. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal pieces. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your work surface and on your rolling pin. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a large rectangle, working the dough until it’s very thin; about 1/4-inch.
- Spread 1/4 of the filling thinly over the dough, to about 1/2-inch from edge. Roll up lengthwise, fold in half, and then cut through at the fold to get two evenly sized ropes. Turn one rope around so that you have a thin end matched up with a thicker end of the rope. Pull on the dough robles gently to stretch.
- Twist both ropes together until they start cracking.
Forming the muffins:
- Pull gently on the twisted rope again to make it as long as possible. You will be slicing 10 pieces out of each rope. Cut rope in half, and then cut each half into five even slices. They will be very messy and gooey at this point, but you can just drop them into the muffin liners and not worry about placement—neatness doesn’t count.
- Repeat process with remaining the three (3) pieces of dough and remaining filling.
Baking the muffins:
- Pre-heat the oven to 350º F.
- Sprinkle muffins with crumb topping and allow to rise for 20 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes or until muffins are set.
- Check bottoms for doneness, as this is a heavy dough and tops can look finished before inside is set. An instant read thermometer should read 190° to 200°F. Using an instant read thermometer is the best way to test all fresh-baked goods.
For the glaze:
- Combine the powdered sugar, cocoa, instant espresso granules and warm milk. Add more milk or more sugar as needed until the proper glaze consistency is achieved.
- Drizzle over babka muffins and allow to harden before handling or freezing.
ChefSecret: Babka is best served warm and fresh. Yeast-style cakes go stale quickly, so freeze them as soon as they are cool if they will not be eaten within 24 hours. Re-warm in an oven (not a microwave) to bring back that wonderful fresh-baked taste.
Friday, June 3rd, 2016
While there are plenty of t-shirts, key chains, throw pillows and other tshotshkes that offer humorous axioms about our NEED for chocolate, the fact is there are some solid scientific and medical reasons that confirm that our cravings are real.
First, there are over 300 chemical compounds in dark chocolate some of which react within the human brain to affect and alter mood and reduce stress. For example, both sexes benefit when our brains release dopamine in response to the pleasurable experience of eating and enjoying chocolate. Additionally, research has shown that the flavanols in chocolate help us to react more effectively to stressful situations than when those flavanols are not present.
Consumption of cocoa increases nitric oxide, a naturally occurring chemical in our bodies. Nitric oxide acts on small receptors in our blood vessels and prompts the vessels to dilate. This process lowers blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with many types of heart disease including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and atherosclerosis. High blood pressure is also associated with cognitive decline, dementia, and stroke.
For females, Nutritionist Lisa Eberly, RD, says there are physiological-based reasons why chocolate cravings may seem more intense during your period. Chocolate contains relatively high levels of magnesium and potassium. Magnesium acts as a muscle relaxant and potassium aids in proper muscle function. Eating chocolate therefore can help relieve muscle cramps, including pelvic that affects so many women during their periods. Magnesium and potassium can aid in relaxing the cramps and the pain associated with them.
Chocolate is also high in iron, and iron levels tend to fall during periods due to blood loss, resulting in fatigue. Chocolate consumption helps to boost iron levels which, in turn, help to improve energy levels. Further, chocolate contains caffeine which can provide an energy boost as well as reduce inflammation associated with pain and headaches.
And if all of the physical explanations are reason enough for you to nibble on a piece of luscious dark chocolate, well then, do it just for the taste! Choclatique’s 64% Private Reserve and our 76% Elephant Chocolate are sure to put a smile on your lips and a spring in your step!
Thursday, May 26th, 2016
I must confess, I am a perpetual snacker. If there were a Snacker’s Anonymous, I would have to become a charter member. I’ll snack on just about anything that is sweet and crunchy. The crunch is my *trigger food and what I’m craving.
These Cocoa-Dusted, Honey-Coated, Roasted Almonds hit the mark on all attributes—sweet, crunchy, chocolatey and a little bit salty. They have a healthy side being low calorie, low carb and gluten-free. They are even a paleo-acceptable, better-for-you snack.
Cocoa-Dusted, Honey-Coated, Roasted Almonds are easy to make. It is a completely irresistible combination of sweet, crunch and chocolate. Store in an airtight container and the almonds will keep well for at least 4 weeks.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 18 minutes
Rest time: 60 minutes
Yield: 2 cups
2 cups raw unsalted almonds
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
14 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons Choclatique Unsweetened Rouge Cocoa Powder, sifted
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line an edged baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon pad.
- Position the almonds in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 6-8 minutes or until fragrant. Shake them around a bit to make sure you get an even roast being careful not to burn them.
- Let the almonds cool completely to room temperature on the baking pan.
- When the almonds have cooled, combine the honey, water and salt in a medium sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heat resistant spatula. Continue to cook for about 3-5 minutes until the mixture has reduced by half. Set the lined baking pan nearby so it is handy.
- Add the almonds and the extracts to the pot stirring until they’re completely coated. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the honey mixture has completely reduced, about 4-6 minutes.
- Transfer the almonds to the parchment-lined baking sheet, and spread them out in a thin, single layer. For best results, make sure the almonds aren’t touching one another or gloppy with honey.
- Let the almonds cool completely to room temperature; then let them set-up for an additional 30-60 minutes.
- Add the cocoa powder to a medium bowl. Carefully pull apart the almonds if they’re stuck together, drop them into the bowl a few at a time, and stir with a fork until they’re coated with cocoa powder.
- Store in an airtight container and the almonds will keep well for at least 4 weeks.
ChefSecret: Some people don’t like the taste of unsweetened cocoa powder. If so, you can easily add a tablespoon of sifted confectioner’s sugar to the cocoa powder for a sweeter taste profile. For a quick shortcut, roasted lightly salted almonds may be substituted for raw almonds and right to the liquid steps.
*A trigger food is what gets your motor going—eating one particular food until you nearly burst. My main trigger food is peanuts. Joan’s is Cheetos. I must say that these almonds could become my trigger food in a New York minute.
Friday, May 20th, 2016
“Nothing says ‘lovin’ like something from the oven” and hot, puffy cinnamon rolls say it best! What could go wrong when the first four ingredients are Butter, Chocolate, Sugar and Cinnamon? You’ll be blown away with this simple cinnamon roll recipe. It’s almost as fast as making those dreadful cinnamon rolls out of a tube. There is no waiting for a sweet yeasty dough to proof. You will still get the warm aroma and flavor of baked cinnamon and butter topped with a sweet white icing in mere minutes.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 20 to 25 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes (if you can wait that long)
Yield: 12 cinnamon rolls
For the cinnamon rolls:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 ounces Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (store bought)
For the glaze:
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
To make the cinnamon rolls:
- Preheat an oven to 400° F.
- Using a pastry brush butter the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon.
- Unroll both sheets of thawed puff pastry on a clean smooth work service.
- Brush the top service or each with remaining melted butter.
- Evenly spread the chocolate mixture into the sheets and lightly roll with a rolling pin.
- Lift an edge of first sheet and tightly roll. Slice each roll into six equal segments. Do the same steps again with the second sheet of puff pastry.
- Place a rolls into the 12 buttered muffin cups.
- Bake 20-25 minutes, or until cinnamon rolls are a rich golden brown and filling is bubbling. Let rolls cool for 30 minutes before eating. Now they are ready to glaze.
To glaze the cinnamon rolls:
- In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar milk and extracts, and stir until smooth.
- Remove the cooled muffins from muffin cups.
- Using the tines of a fork drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon rolls, and serve warm.
ChefSecret: If you don’t have a muffin tin you can bake them in a well-buttered pie pan of a square baking pan. Make sure they are touching the sides of one another.
Friday, May 6th, 2016
According to the people at Harris Poll, chocolate gets ranked second place among comfort foods when rated by United States consumers. Pizza is still ranked numero uno.
Women love their chocolate and ice cream as their second and third choices, respectively, while men prefer ice cream and chips. But real men still eat their chocolate—chocolate is the big number two for snackers in the mid-west, deep south and far west. Chocolate is the second most popular comfort food among gen Xers, however it ranks #3 for all other generations, according to the same Harris Poll.
When do people turn to comfort foods? Forty percent of consumers turn to comfort foods for a quick pick-me-up when stressed, while 43 percent seek comfort foods after a bad day, and 33 percent turn to these foods when depressed. Conversely, almost 4 in 10 turn to their favorite comfort food after a really good day as a reward, while 37 percent seek them out on their birthdays as a special treat.
So what’s your snackin’ prescription for the day? Eat chocolate for whatever ails ya! Take two truffles and call me in the morning. Trust me, I’m a doctor—The ChocolateDoctor.
Thursday, April 28th, 2016
We asked Chef Celestino Drago to cater a special dinner party for Steven Spielberg’s mom’s birthday and he did an amazing job. There was a great birthday cake, of course, but there was this—Sicilian Ricotta-Chocolate Chip Pie—hidden in the back of the kitchen.
Celestino has been a good friend and has played an important role in the ever-evolving Italian dining scene in Los Angeles for over 30 years. Originally from Sicily, Celestino and his band of brothers are regarded as the pioneers of truly great Italian Cuisine in California and Celestino has become one of Los Angeles’ most celebrated chefs.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 45 to 55 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus extra for garnish
3 large eggs
1 teaspoons Fiori di Sicilia (see ChefSecret below)
1 teaspoon orange zest, freshly grated
15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
9 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup cooked short-grained rice
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup Choclatique Dark Chocolate Chips
6 sheets fresh phyllo sheets or frozen, thawed
3/4 stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
- Blend 3/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar, eggs, Fiori di Sicilia, orange zest, ricotta and mascarpone in a food processor until smooth. Stir in the rice, pine nuts and chocolate chips. Set the ricotta mixture aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Lightly butter a 9-inch deep, glass pie dish.
- Lay 1 phyllo sheet over the bottom and up the sides of the dish, allowing the phyllo to hang over the sides. Brush the phyllo with the melted butter. Top with a second sheet of phyllo dough, laying it in the opposite direction as the first phyllo sheet. Continue layering the remaining sheets of phyllo sheets, alternating after each layer and buttering each sheet.
- Spoon the ricotta mixture into the dish. Fold the overhanging phyllo dough over the top of the filling to enclose it completely. Brush the top completely with melted butter.
- Bake the pie until the top phyllo crust is golden brown and the filling is set, about 45 to 55 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a rack and cool completely. Sift powdered sugar over the pie and serve. This pie is best served slightly warm or at room temperature.
Note: You will have to refrigerate any leftovers. The next day, take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
ChefSecret: Fiori di Sicilia is combination of citrus and vanilla with a pleasingly floral aroma. The smell reminds me of the small, old fashioned bake shops in Southern Italy. Fiori di Sicilia is the perfect marriage of flavors you taste when you combine vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet in the same bowl. I like using it in just about anything mild and sweet–anything where competing flavors, don’t interfere. It can be sourced through the Baker’s Catalogue. Remember to refrigerate Fiori di Sicilia after opening. And caution, don’t spill it on the counter–it stains.
If you don’t have any Fiori di Sicilia and just can’t wait for it to arrive then pure vanilla extract is a good substitute. Just add a half teaspoon more of the freshly grated orange zest to increase the citrus flavor. And while we’re talking about orange zest—that is just the orange part of the skin where the fragrant oil is. Don’t grate down to the white as it tends to get bitter.