Myth-Melting Study Finds: Chocolate Burns Belly Fat, Improves Cholesterol

July 8th, 2016
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Choclatique—150 Simply 150 Elegant Desserts, Running Press, 2011

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.[1] 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.[2] [3] [4]

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.

Discussion

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

________________________________________

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4] 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.

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The ChocolateDoctor’s Cinnamon-Cocoa-Grahams Chocolate Chippers

June 30th, 2016
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Choclatique—150 Simply 150 Elegant Desserts, Running Press, 2011

Oh yum, CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES! Not just any chocolate chip cookie; my chippers are a bit different with the texture of the crushed graham cracker combined with pools of milky chocolate chips. Eat them while they are still warm for a delicious and gooey treat. No lie, I make these cookies for EVERY occasion I can. You don’t even need to have a reason to bake these. They deserve to be around all day every day. Day old cookies can still have that fresh baked flavor and texture by popping them in the microwave for about 10 seconds.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 7 to 8 minutes
Cool Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 16 cookies

Ingredients:
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon Choclatique Natura Cocoa Powder, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Choclatique Milk Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until creamy.
  4. Add the vanilla, almond extracts and egg and beat until well combined.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cocoa powder and salt.
  6. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until just combined.
  7. Hand-stir in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
  8. Scoop tablespoon sizes dough balls and bake on a prepared pan for 7 minutes.
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack for five minutes. The cookies may appear to be under bakes, but wait—they will continue to bake while out of the oven and will set up nicely as they continue to cool.
  10. Eat them while they are still warm.

ChefSecret: For best result the longer you cream the butter and sugar together the better the texture—give it a full 5 minutes. Personally I love the flavor of milk chocolate chips in this recipe, but some of my co-workers in the test kitchen prefer the less sweet flavor of Choclatique Dark Chocolate Chips. Either way, these are still a favorite. If they’re not sweet enough for your tastes or you have a group of Girl Scouts coming over you can easily turn these into a sort of S‘mores cookie by adding 1/2 cup of miniature marshmallows.

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The ChocolateDoctor’s Mille-Feuille Aux Chocolat (French Chocolate Crepe Cake)

June 24th, 2016
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Choclatique—150 Simply 150 Elegant Desserts, Running Press, 2011

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)

Ingredients:
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)

Directions:
To make the crepe batter:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (the batter can be made a day ahead and held refrigerated).
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Cook on the other side for about 30 seconds, then slide the crepe onto the parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.
  10. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Lightly butter the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan to make it easier to release.
  3. 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.
  4. Cover the springform pan with food film and chill the cake layers in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or, better yet overnight.
  5. Refrigerate the leftover filling this will be your final frosting to finish the cake.
  6. Remove the cake from the refrigerator, undo the springform pan and set it on a cake plate or platter.
  7. Evenly spread the remaining filling on top and sides of the cake.
  8. Sprinkle chocolate curls over the top of the frosted cake.
  9. 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.
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The ChocolateDoctor’s Twisted Chocolate-Filled Babka Muffins

June 17th, 2016
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Choclatique—150 Simply 150 Elegant Desserts, Running Press, 2011

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

Ingredients:
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)

Directions:
For the dough:

  1. Start by mixing the yeast, sugar and warm water. Let it sit until it begins to dissolve and foam.
  2. 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.
  3. Cover the dough with food film and let rise for one hour in a warm place in your kitchen.

For the chocolate filling:

  1. Combine all the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

For the crumb topping:

  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Twist both ropes together until they start cracking.

Forming the muffins:

  1. 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.
  2. Repeat process with remaining the three (3) pieces of dough and remaining filling.

Baking the muffins:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350º F.
  2. Sprinkle muffins with crumb topping and allow to rise for 20 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes or until muffins are set.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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The ChocolateDoctor’s Miraculous “Fivers” Chocolate Chippers

June 9th, 2016
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Choclatique—150 Simply 150 Elegant Desserts, Running Press, 2011

Take a look at the beautifully layered texture of this giant chocolate chip cookie. Isn’t it beautiful and luscious? This is more lumps of chocolate lightly held together with a little crisp cookie dough. If you love chocolate and chocolate chip cookies, then this is the real ‘Got Milk?’ cookie. The name is a misnomer as it is really a chocolate wafer cookie rather than a chip.

Use Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate Pastilles for best results.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Rest time: 24 hours
Bake time: 18 to 20 minutes
Yield: 20 5-inch cookies

Ingredients:
1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt
3-1/2 cups plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1-1/4 pounds Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate Pastilles
Sea salt for lightly sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light, fluffy about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down bowl.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until combined.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and continue to mix.
  5. Using a rubber spatula scrape down bowl again.

  1. Sprinkle the baking soda, baking powder and salt over dough and mix it until fully combined. (More on this later—see ChefSecrets below)
  2. Add the flour all at once and mix it in short bursts until it almost completely disappears. Do not overmix the dough. Overmixing the dough at this point will make a tougher cookie.
  3. Fold in the chocolate pastilles without breaking them. You want to see those beautiful layers.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The cookie dough will hold well for up to 4 days.
  5. Preheat an oven to 325° F. Be prepared to bake in small batches—6 cookies to a large tray.
  6. Line two large baking sheets with parchment baking paper or Silpat baking mats.
  7. Form the dough into 3-1/2-ounce balls (100 gram)—weigh them out. These will be larger than golf balls, but don’t let that scare you. If any chocolate pieces are exposed cross the tops or sides of the balls of dough, try to push them back in it.
  8. Arrange the dough balls far enough apart on the baking sheets as they will spread out to at least 5-inches as they bake. Using the bottom of a large glass dipped in water gently push them down to flatten.
  9. Lightly dust the tops of each cookie with a few grains of sea salt.
  10. Bake cookies for 18 to 20 minutes (depending on your oven), until no darker than golden brown.
  11. Check the cookies often after the first 15 minutes. Do not over bake.
  12. Cool the cookies on the baking trays for 10 minutes they will continue to cook; then transfer them to racks.

ChefSecrets: I found that you will get a better texture when adding the baking soda, baking powder and salt after the dough comes together. If you are using an electric oven, you might want to consider double panning your trays to prevent the cookies from getting too dark or burning on the bottom.

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Need Chocolate… NOW!! Those Chocolate Cravings Are Real

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!

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The ChocolateDoctor’s Cocoa-Dusted, Honey-Coated, Roasted Almonds

May 26th, 2016
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Choclatique—150 Simply 150 Elegant Desserts, Running Press, 2011

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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line an edged baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon pad.
  2. 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.
  3. Let the almonds cool completely to room temperature on the baking pan.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Let the almonds cool completely to room temperature; then let them set-up for an additional 30-60 minutes.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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The ChocolateDoctor’s Easy-Peasy Chocolate-Cinnamon Rolls

May 20th, 2016
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Choclatique—150 Simply 150 Elegant Desserts, Running Press, 2011

“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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
To make the cinnamon rolls:

  1. Preheat an oven to 400° F.
  2. Using a pastry brush butter the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon.
  4. Unroll both sheets of thawed puff pastry on a clean smooth work service.
  5. Brush the top service or each with remaining melted butter.
  6. Evenly spread the chocolate mixture into the sheets and lightly roll with a rolling pin.
  7. 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.
  8. Place a rolls into the 12 buttered muffin cups.
  9. 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:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar milk and extracts, and stir until smooth.
  2. Remove the cooled muffins from muffin cups.
  3. 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.

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The ChocolateDoctor’s Sticky-Fingers Chocolate Monkey Bread

May 13th, 2016
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Choclatique—150 Simply 150 Elegant Desserts, Running Press, 2011

My friends in Lisbon at A Padaria Portuguesa (the Portuguese Baker) had never heard of Monkey Bread. Over and over again they kept dipping and pulling out another ball of bread. It was easy to see how when one monkey saw the others do it, he fell right in and did it over and over again—monkey see, monkey do.

Monkey Bread is like a giant addictive cinnamon roll on steroids. It is buttery, sticky, cinnamon-y and rich in pecans which is what makes it so delicious. If you don’t have time to make the sweet dough from scratch , try using refrigerated tube dough and tearing and rolling that dough into balls and baking to a golden brown.

Prep time: 45 minutes
Proof time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 55 to 60 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup pecans, chopped
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 batch Basic Sweet-Roll Dough, without nutmeg (see recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread the pecans on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes; set aside. (Set a timer as a reminder so the nuts don’t burn). You can shut the oven off until ready to bake.
  3. Melt 1 stick butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and heavy cream; boil until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the vanilla, vinegar, rum, salt and the toasted pecans. Pour all but 1/2 cup of the pecan mixture into an 8-inch-round, 3-inch-deep cake pan. Refrigerate until almost set, about 15 minutes.
  5. Set the remaining pecan mixture aside at room temperature.
  6. Put the remaining 1/2 stick butter in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave until melted.
  7. Put the granulated sugar in another bowl. Pinch off tablespoonfuls of dough and roll into 1-inch balls. Dip the balls in the melted butter, letting the excess drip off, then roll in the granulated sugar.
  8. Arrange in the prepared cake pan in 2 layers, leaving a bit of space between the balls.
  9. Let rise, uncovered, in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F if using a dark or anodize cake pan.).
  11. Bake the bread until puffed and golden brown (a thermometer inserted into the center should register 175°F), about 55 minutes; tent with aluminum foil if the top is getting too dark.
  12. Remove the bread from the oven and immediately spread the reserved 1/2 cup pecan mixture on top. Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a plate.
  13. Pull off pieces to serve.

Basic Chocolate Chip Sweet-Roll Dough

Prep time: 1 hour
Chill time: 4 hours or over overnight
Yield: 1 3/4 pounds dough

Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole milk
3 1/4 -ounce packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for brushing
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup Choclatique Semisweet Chocolate Mini Chips

Directions:

  1. Warm 1/2 cup water and the milk in a saucepan over low heat until a thermometer registers 100° to 110°F. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the yeast on top, then sprinkle with a pinch of the sugar; set aside, covered with a kitchen towel undisturbed, until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk the melted butter, egg yolk and vanilla into the yeast mixture until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, the remaining sugar, the salt and nutmeg (if using).
  4. Make a well in the center, then add the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to make a thick and slightly sticky dough.
  5. Add the chocolate chips.
  6. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until soft and elastic, about 6 minutes. Shape into a ball.
  7. Brush a large bowl with butter. Add the dough, turning to coat lightly with the butter. Cover with food film and let rise at room temperature until the dough is doubled in size, about 1 hour, 15 minutes.
  8. Turn the dough out of the bowl, knock it down and knead briefly to release excess air; re-form into a ball and return to the bowl.
  9. Lightly butter a large piece of food film and lay it directly on the surface of the dough. Cover the bowl tightly with food film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

ChefSecret: If you choose to refrigerate the dough overnight make sure you take it out early enough to bring it back too warmer than room temperature. When touched you shouldn’t feel any chill to the dough.

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The ChocolateDoctor Says…Chocolate Ranks #2

May 6th, 2016
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Choclatique—150 Simply 150 Elegant Desserts, Running Press, 2011

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.

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