The trick to creating healthy dark chocolate treats? Keep it small and simple! Remember that an ounce of dark chocolate clocks in at around 160 calories and 10 grams of fat…add-ins can up that ante significantly!
When melting dark chocolate, remember to heat gently and slowly, since chocolate burns easily if heated too quickly or over-heated. Also, be extremely careful to keep water, even steam, out of your chocolate, as even a tiny amount of water can cause “seizing” or lumpiness of the melted chocolate. And finally, remember this mantra: always choose the finest quality ingredients available. The quality of the chocolate you start with really does make a huge difference in your finished product!
The candy recipes below do not require tempering, or heating and cooling the chocolate to ensure that the cocoa butter in the chocolate hardens uniformly and creates a smooth texture in the finished product. To melt the chocolate for these recipes, chop (a long serrated knife works well!) high quality chocolate with a cocoa count of at least 60% evenly into coarse chunks. Microwave in a glass bowl at 50% power for the amount of time suggested in each recipe, stopping every 30 seconds to stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula. Remove when the chocolate is 2/3 melted and continue to stir until fully melted. For more detail on working with chocolate, see www.candy.about.com/od/chocolate/u/chocolate.htm or www.best-chocolate-recipes-online.com/chocolate.html.
Â½ cup organic heavy cream
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
Â¼ teaspoon coarse salt
Unsweetened cocoa powder for coating
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and tape it to the back to keep it from moving when truffles are placed. Place chocolate in glass bowl. Bring cream, Grand Marnier, and salt to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Pour cream mixture over chocolate, and let stand for 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Pour chocolate mixture into and 8-inch baking dish, and refrigerate 30 minutes. Scoop balls of chocolate mixture using a tablespoon or 1-inch scoop. Roll balls in cocoa powder, tossing to coat thoroughly. Shake off excess. Makes about 28 truffles. Can be refrigerated for 3 days.
Chocolate Dipped Apricots
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 61% cacao), chopped
24 dried apricots
1 tablespoon chopped nuts (pistachios, cashews, walnuts)
Place chocolate in glass bowl and microwave at 50% power for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Remove from microwave and continue to stir until thoroughly melted. Dip half of each apricot in chocolate, letting excess drip off. Place apricots on waxed paper or parchment and sprinkle chopped nuts of your choice over the chocolate portion. Refrigerate until the chocolate sets.
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Â½ tablespoon organic whipping cream
Berries to dip
Combine chocolate and whipping cream in glass bowl. Microwave at half power for 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds. If necessary, extend time in 30 second intervals until chocolate mixture is almost melted. Stir thoroughly then cool slightly. Dip each berry into the melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Place on wax or parchment paper and refrigerate for 15 minutes to set.
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 61% cacao), chopped
1 cup add-ins of your choice (toasted pistachios or other nuts, dried berries, crumbled pretzels, etc. Be creative, but remember to stick with healthy ingredients!)
Place chopped chocolate in large glass bowl. Microwave at 50% power for 3 minutes, stirring after each 30 second interval. When chocolate is almost melted, remove from microwave and continue to stir until completely melted. Stir in the add-ins. Spoon the mixture onto a waxed-paper or parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm. Break into bite-size pieces to serve.
“Almond Joy” Tart
1 refrigerated or home-made pie crust
Â½ cup organic heavy whipping cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (such as Ghiradelli)
1 cup almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
Â½ cup organic flaked coconut
Pinch of coarse kosher salt
Extra coconut for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press pie crust onto bottom and up sides of 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Trim edges if necessary. Pierce crust all over with fork and bake until browned, about 12 minutes. In the meantime, bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low; add chocolate chips, and stir until smooth and fully melted. Remove from heat. Stir in almonds, coconut, and salt. Spread chocolate mixture in crust. Sprinkle with extra coconut to garnish and chill until set, about 2 hours. Serve at room temperature.
This is a fun recipe to play around with. Try other kinds of nuts or dried fruits. Brush the crust with raspberry or other preserves after it comes out of the oven. Each variation will create a deep, dense, candy bar tart created just for you!
Not sure what constitutes high quality chocolate? Â Some excellent brands to try for melting include Cacao Barry, Callebaut, Scharffen Berger, Tcho (available at www.tcho.com ), and Valrhona.