Thursday, September 17, 2009

A non-chocoholic discovers chocolate

I've never been a chocoholic. I seldom eat it, except for those Reese's Peanut Butter Cups at Hallowe'en. Frozen. They have to be frozen. I bought a bar of dark chocolate months ago when I made a mole sauce. It's been sitting in the refrigerator since.

Well, thanks to my local Shop Rite magazine, Live Right, that bar is about to be liberated. It seems that dark chocolate has lots of benefits, including improving one's memory. From the article:

Research has shown that flavonol compounds in dark chocolate improve blood flow to the brain for 2 to 3 hours. Consume 1 ounce of chocolate or 1 teaspoon dark cocoa every day for constant improvement.

Of course, I had to employ The Google and found a Wiki entry on the benefits of dark chocolate. Here's an excerpt from that article:

* Dark chocolate (as opposed to other kinds of chocolate) is considered healthy, and recommended for daily consumption in small amounts to maintain a healthy heart and lower cholesterol.

* Dark chocolate is also an excellent energy source, because it releases slowly into the bloodstream and does not elevate insulin levels. (Indeed, dark chocolate has a GI rating of a mere 22.) As a result, the sustained energy it provides is ideal for endurance activities and even weight-training routines.

* If you don't like dark chocolate, start with a very mild dark chocolate such as 45-55% cacao. A good example of this is Bournville, an easily available brand (in the UK) with distinctive packaging. The packaging is a dark red. Mild dark chocolate will taste similar to milk chocolate and won't be too bitter. If you are more adventurous, you can get dark chocolates that go all the way up to 100% cacao (i.e., unsweetened).

* The formation of whitish spots, or bloom, on chocolate is due to a separation of some of the fat in the chocolate, caused when it is exposed to heat, and then it is cool again. While it affects the aesthetics of the chocolate somewhat, it isn't harmful to eat or use chocolate that has bloomed. Bloom is related to heat and humidity, so store chocolate in a cool, dry place free of odors.

* Remember that most of all, you should enjoy dark chocolate, and don't be too pretentious, because you'll turn people off instead of turning them on to dark chocolate.

* Here are some excellent brands to try: Omanhene, Michel Cluizel, Boehms, Perugina, Wedel, Domori, Amedei, Valrhona, Neuhaus, Marcolini, Lindt, Felchlin, Guittard, Scharffen Berger, Santander, Malagasy, Weiss, El Rey, Theo, Bonnat, Pralus, Cote D'or, Castelain, Slitti, Dagoba, Green and Black's, Bournville, Ghirardelli, Chocolate Traveler and Xocai.

* Indeed, dark chocolate has as many, likely more, layers and nuances of taste, than wine. During a recent visit to wine country in Sonoma, California, I found a venue that pays such homage: Wine Country Chocolates (photo above). The establishment sports a small chocolate "tasting bar" in the spirit of wine tasting, and the flavors were marvelous!

I've been to many of the wineries and tasting rooms in Sonoma and Napa counties when I lived in California. I'm not surprised that a chocolate tasting room has blossomed in that part of the country!


Anonymous said...

Chocolate candy, ice cream, cookie and dessert makers from the Peninsula and the entire Bay Area will offer their chocolate wares for tasting Oct. 9, 10 and 11 at the 27th annual Chocolate Fest, sponsored by the Congregational Church of Belmont. This benefit event will take place at the church, 751 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont. The tastings will be from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday; from 1:30 to 4 p.m. and 7:30-10 p.m. Saturday; and from 1:30-4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets for the afternoon sessions are $17.50 pre-sale or $20 at the door; in the evening, tickets are $22.50 pre-sale or $25 at the door. Children and seniors will be admitted for $15 in the afternoons. Order online at or call 650-593-4547.

Delphyne said...

Makes me wish even more that I was back in the Bay Area! Good luck with the tasting - it sounds scrumptious!

Anonymous said...

Try Powell's Sweet Shoppe on the Healdsburg Plaza.707-431-2784

Nancy B. Hartley said...

Sounds fun, fabulous, and delicious! This sounds like a good thing to put on the schedule!
Happy chocolate tasting everyone!

Delphyne said...

If you do go, Nancy, let me know how it was - or blog it - or send me pictures of the chocolate!

Shelly said...

There was never any doubt in my mind that chocolate, the darker the better, was good for you. :)