Sunday, November 27, 2011

Five Trends in Chocolate in 2012

There really is no bad or out of season chocolates. We all love those little bite size morsels wrapped in silver foil. However, chocolatiers are now catering to adult palates. They are true artisans of gourmet chocolate that are developing visual and sensual delights. These are not mass produced candies.

The top trends of 2012 are:

1. Dark chocolate combined with super fruits: Dark chocolate in itself has been proven to be "healthy". With its antioxidants it is said to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and help keep the cardiovascular system running properly. To make it even more desirable to health conscious consumers it is being combined with super fruits that also contain these antioxidants.

2. Artisan Chocolates: These chocolates are true works of art. Homemade treasures. They are not the chocolate that is poured into a heart mold and popped out. The cocoa is selected for aroma and texture. It is quality versus quantity. The chocolates are hand decorated or filled with high quality ingredients. Some look too good to bite into.

3. Chocolate covered tropical fruit: Strawberries are not the only fruit for dipping anymore. These gourmet chocolates bring you to the islands. They are sweet and tangy. Varieties include coconut, orange, passion fruit, and guava. You can hear the ocean when you bite into them. You can hear the breezes of a tropical rainforest.

4. Salt in Chocolate: Sea Salt from around the world has become a specialty food. Gourmet chocolate bars, truffles, wafers are all being sprinkled with finishing salts. Salts from all around the world are being used. Pink salt looks beautiful on white chocolate. The flavor is unique that satisfies both the sweet and salty craving.

5. Spicy: Hot! Hot! Hot! Chocolates are combing spicy jalapenos, chili powder, and smoky chipotles to name a few. As you smell the aroma and chew into the creamy chocolate the spice is the last to come. It is an eye opening surprise. You may want to have a big glass of milk on the side.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How To Make Chocolate Truffles Out Of Leftover Cake?

Fancy having home made truffles that are freshly made? You can make them yourself. Easily.

There are many ways to make your own chocolate truffles.

For example, if you have left over cake, you can turn that old cake into chocolate truffles.

This is a fun activity for the kids, to keep them out of mischief. Make sure they wash their hands thoroughly before they start.

You will need.

Leftover cake.
A large bar of your favourite chocolate.
Chopped nuts.
Kids Kitchen Activities - Making Chocolate Truffles

Crush up the cake into crumbs in a bowl. (The kids can do this)
Line a tray with baking paper.
Spread chopped nuts on the baking paper.
Melt chocolate. (You do this. Melt the chocolate on the high setting for 1 second in a microwave oven)
Pour the melted chocolate into the cake crumbs
Stir until thoroughly mixed. (Kids can do the mixing)
Wash and dry hands thoroughly. (Everyone, please do this if you don't want to get stomach upset.)
Shape the cake crumb chocolate mix into balls. (I'd bet this would be the kids' favourite activity)
Roll these balls in chopped nuts. (Let the kids do this too.)
Let the truffle balls set on the lined tray.
Serve to anyone who loves chocolate truffles.
You can make variations to this recipe with flavourings and chocolate syrup. Here's another version of cake chocolate truffles.

How to make flavoured chocolate truffles

Here's another version, using a melon scoop instead of your hands to form the truffle balls.

Leftover cake
A large bar of your favourite chocolate.
Peppermint flavouring or vanilla essence.
Rainbow sprinkles.
Crush up the cake into crumbs in a bowl.
Line a tray with baking paper.
Melt chocolate. Melt the chocolate on the high setting for 1 second in a microwave oven. Stir to make sure it is fully melted. If it is still solid, microwave it for another 1 second on high setting.
Pour the melted chocolate into the cake crumbs
Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint essence or vanilla essence, whichever flavour you prefer.
Stir until thoroughly mixed. (Kids can do the mixing)
Scoop up a ball of truffle mix.
Use a teaspoon to ease that ball out of the melon scoop and onto the tray.
Sprinkle rainbow sprinkles over the truffle balls.
Let the truffle balls set on the lined tray.
Serve to anyone who loves chocolate truffles.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coffee and Cacao Beans is Rich Sources of Phytonutrients

Sub Titled- Singing the Praises of the World's Healthiest Beans

While we have talked about the health benefits of dark chocolate and brewed cacao products in a previous article, we did not get in to much detail. This article may be considered as too scientific by some, but it is very important to know what is healthy and unhealthy for our bodies. Typically, when our medical doctor prescribes a pill, we take it without reservation. Is that wise? When we buy prepared food and drinks at the grocery store, we assume that our government only allows healthy products to be sold in our stores. Is that true? The answer to both questions is sadly no.

Note: This article serves to inform you of the healthful benefits found in both caffeine and cacao beans so that you can make informed decisions regarding your diet and habits. We are not suggesting you change your diet drastically or stop taking prescribed medication without discussing it with your doctor.

What are phytochemicals?

Most people are familiar with the basic nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Less often discussed are phytochemicals, which are classified as "nonessential nutrients" There are thousands of phytochemicals that we are aware of and thousands more to be discovered, each with their own healing properties

Both the coffee and cacao beans are rich sources of phytochemicals. Caffeine and theobromine, provided by these beans, are photochemical alkaloids with numerous health benefits. Caffeine is widely known and is found in coffee, some teas, and over the counter medications. Theobromine, which is not as commonly known as caffeine, is found in dark chocolate and cacao brews. The photochemical alkaloids caffeine and theobromine are beneficial to the human body.

Health Benefits of Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, which increases respiration and blood circulation by dilating your blood vessels. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic. Caffeine increases the body's circulation while stimulating the oxidation of fatty acids, contributing to weight reduction and better athletic performance. Caffeine is often combined with aspirin to treat headaches. Remember, moderation is the key to healthy caffeine consumption.

Caffeine Facts

Plants containing caffeine have been used by different cultures over centuries. Caffeinated teas were used to treat headaches, coughs, and even the plague. Interestingly enough, only in recent history is caffeine used to avoid slumber and relieve fatigue. Caffeine is now one of the most widely used phytochemicals. Contrary to popular beliefs, caffeine is not addictive, but it can be habit-forming. Normal levels of caffeine consumption are not toxic to humans but are very toxic to dogs, cats and horses.

Health Benefits of Theobromine

Theobromine has similar effects as caffeine but to a lesser degree, making it a healthy alternative to those with caffeine sensitivities.. Like caffeine, theobromine is a diuretic and a stimulant. Theobromine dilates your blood vessels, helping lower blood pressure. Unlike caffeine, theobromine does not affect the central nervous system yet remains a stimulant. Theobromine can also relax bronchia muscles in the lungs, making it beneficial for people with asthma and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Theobromine is also used as cough medicine. Studies show that theobromine acts positively on the vagus nerve, which runs from the lungs to the brain. Physicians in the Middle East recommend the consumption of 4 cups of coffee daily. They believe this limits heart disease and colorectal cancer, while reducing the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. There are also claims that coffee consumption reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, depression, and prostate cancer. Studies have also shown that high coffee consumption is associated with decreased risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Researchers cannot determine what it is in coffee that produces these healthful benefits. We can only assume that coffee's positive effects are due to the high amount of phytochemicals found in every cup.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why Chocolate Contributes To Good Health?

So many of us LOVE chocolate, don't we? We love the bitter and sweet taste aspects, along with the creamy texture and the oh-so seductive aroma. All these qualities contribute to our love of chocolate. However, not all chocolate is created equally. White chocolate and milk chocolate do not possess the health benefits of deep, dark chocolate.

Deep, dark chocolate has several advantages over its paler counterparts. First, dark chocolate is lower in sugar and it comes with a higher percentage of cocoa and cocoa fat which is a healthy fat. That healthy fat is called monounsaturated oleic acid. It's the same kind of fat as you will find in olive oil. We have been hearing for years about the exceptional heart-healthy benefits of olive oil.

Another reason to choose dark chocolate is directly related to those who are lactose or casein intolerant. Dark chocolate is a better choice when it doesn't contain milk. Be sure to read the label carefully when looking for milk-free chocolate.

Dark chocolate is high in a special class of antioxidants called which are called flavonoids. These help keep free radicals, destructive substances formed as by-products from normal daily activities such as breathing, under control. Dark chocolate is high in a particular antioxidant called flavanol which has been shown to increase vascular health by lowering blood pressure. Flavanol also improves blood flow to the brain and heart. Another plus is that this powerhouse antioxidant can also make blood platelets less sticky. These all add up to making deep, dark chocolate a heart-healthy choice. You might even say, "The darker - the better," when it comes to chocolate.

There are a few folks who don't like the taste of chocolate or have an allergy to it. They can also receive the benefits of flavanol by eating cranberries, apples and onions. It is also found in several red wines and in tea. The best red wines with the highest antioxidant benefits are pinots, merlots, and syrahs. For those who do enjoy dark chocolate, these same red wine choices will pair very well with your chocolate. It's an indulgence that reaps health benefits!

Red wine and dark chocolate share another health benefit: the flavonoid resveretrol. This tongue twister is pronounced RES-VEER-ETRAWL. Along with having heart-healthy benefits, it is considered anti-aging. Plus, it has been found to lower blood sugar.

Perhaps you have not acquired a taste for the bitterness of dark, dark chocolate. There's still hope. A great way to start is by slowly increasing the percentage of cocoa found in the chocolate you purchase. Many milk chocolate choices have a 35 percent cocoa content. Anything over 70 percent is considered healthy. By slowly adding a few percentage points to your chocolate choices, you will slowly notice an increase in the taste tolerance you have for the more bitter varieties. Over time you will come to enjoy the darker chocolates and benefit from their health-enhancing qualities.