Tuesday , 22 August 2017

Kyra’s Kitchen: Chocolate – The Food of Love

BY TSB Contributing Writer, Kyra Effren

And… Chocolate is also the food that loves you back!

Let’s look at some of the facts:
• The Journal of the American Medical Association tells us that dark chocolate lowers one’s blood pressure!
• WebMD pontificates that its anti-oxidants ‘gobble up’ the ‘free radicals’ that are implicated in heart disease. 
• The flavonols promote blood flow while the ‘low glycemic index’ does not send one’s blood pressure up.
• Chocolate is now responsible for an energy lift – helping to lower one’s cholesterol. 
• It is an anti depressant – helps with reduction of pain and lessens anxiety. 
• It also contains magnesium, potassium and iron.
• The recommended ‘dosage’: One ounce per day of ‘60% or higher’ dark chocolate.

My goodness – who KNEW that something so delicious is also SO good for you?
We did and we chocolate lovers finally feel vindicated!

So what better occasion than Valentine’s Day – the Day of Love – to celebrate with chocolate?

The Food of Love
You can run out and buy a big box tied with a big red ribbon – or you can show REAL love this Valentine’s Day by making the gift for your loved one yourself!

Here are some are some simple, healthy, inexpensive and delicious recipes:

CHOCOLATE PISTACHIO AND CRANBERRY BARK
1 cup dark chocolate – chips or chopped up
1/4   cup shelled pistachios
1/4  cup dried cranberries

Place the chocolate pieces in small deep bowl.  Microwave on high for one minute. 
Stir until smooth.  Drop the nuts and cranberries into the melted chocolate and stir to mix well.
Pile onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment baking paper.
Spread evenly to a thin sheet.  Chill for 30 minutes.
When set – break the bark into pieces.


 

CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT BARK
1 cup dark chocolate pieces
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
Follow the directions for the Pistachio Cranberry Bark.

CHOCOLATE DIPPED PRETZELS
1 cup dark chocolate pieces or chips
1 cup pretzel twists
Valentine cake decorations [available at supermarkets and craft stores]

Place the chocolate pieces in small deep bowl.  Microwave on high for one minute. 
Stir to blend until melted.
Working with one at a time, drop a pretzel twist  into the chocolate – lift out gently with two forks and allow the excess chocolate to drop back into the bowl. 
Set the chocolate covered pretzel on a baking paper cookie sheet, decorate as desired with Valentine decorations and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
Gently lift the pretzels off the paper.

 

CHOCOLATE DIPPED MARSHMALLOWS
Large marshmallows
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate pieces or chips

Place the chocolate in a small deep microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Remove and stir until smooth.
Working with one marshmallow at a time – drop it into the melted chocolate – lift out with a fork and allow the excess chocolate to fall back into the bowl. 
Set on baking paper lined cookies sheet and chill for 30 minutes.
Note: If you wish to decorate the top of the marshmallow – do it before the chocolate sets.

 

MERINGUES WITH CHOCOLATE
12 ready-made meringues – available at candy stores or supermarkets
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Place the chocolate in a small deep microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Remove and stir until smooth.
Using a flat knife or spatula, spread chocolate on the underside of the meringue and allow to set upside down. 
Set on baking paper lined cookies sheet and chill for 30 minutes.
Note: You can also sandwich the meringues together before the chocolate sets.

 

DARK CHOCOLATE SAUCE
4 oz dark chocolate – chopped
1 cup water

Heat the water and pour over the chocolate.  Stir until smooth.  Cool.
Note: you can add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 2 tablespoons liqueur of your choice if desired.
Serve over ice cream or cake.

About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for TownSquareBuzz.com’s “Food” section.  She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking.   She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.

Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions.  What would you like to have for dinner?

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