We all know that dark chocolate has healthful antioxidants. But what type of dark chocolate is best? Raw cacao (notice the spelling change) is the purest form of chocolate because it is much less processed than the cocoa used in most chocolate. Cacao is higher in antioxidants and magnesium than cocoa-based chocolate (in addition to having vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein).
Cocoa is processed/roasted at higher temperatures so is no longer raw, but retains several nutrients and antioxidants (known to be good for your heart and stress reduction). “Dutch/dutched” cocoa powder has been processed further with an alkalizing chemical (potassium carbonate) which makes it less bitter, darker and richer tasting, and is the type sold as cocoa powder and in conventional chocolate. Cocoa powder and cacao powder are used interchangeably. Raw, natural (and non-dutched) cacao is found in health food stores and sold online.
Recipe #1 MAKE YOUR OWN EASTER CHOCOLATE
1/2 cup cocoa butter (found in health stores or online, sold in “chunks”)
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
1 cup cocoa powder or cacao powder
1/2 cup raw cane sugar (or stevia)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract Directions:
Grate 1/2 cup of cocoa butter for melting. Place cocoa butter and coconut oil in a small heat-safe bowl (or double boiler). Place bowl in a shallow pan on the stove containing a small amount of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Stir until they are melted. Add the cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla to the oil and butter. Stir continuously until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and add nuts or dried fruit, if desired. Pour the melted chocolate into molds or flexible ice cube tray. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Recipe #2 SUPER-HEALTHY CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup raw almonds
2 Tablespoons whole grain flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup dates, soaked in warm water for 10-15 minutes
1/4 cup cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder)
1 Tablespoon raw cacao nibs (optional) Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Add parchment paper to an 8x8-inch baking dish.
Place 1 cup of the walnuts and the almonds in a food processor and finely grind into a powder. Transfer to a bowl. Process the dates in the food processor until smooth. Put nuts back into the food processor with dates, and process until into a paste, and transfer into a bowl. Melt the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl in a pan in water (see above recipe) or a double boiler. Whisk in eggs one at a time until chocolate is smooth. Remove from heat. Add the cocoa powder and flour and stir until well incorporated. Combine the chocolate mixture and nut/date mixture, adding the last ½ cup of chopped walnuts and nibs (if using). Spread the batter evenly into the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.