4

Ingredient of the Week: Dark Chocolate

^
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

First, a quick and dirty lesson on the varieties of chocolate:

  • Unsweetened chocolate is all cacao and no sugar, making it incredibly bitter. It is also known as baking chocolate and is usually found in the baking aisle of grocery stores in the forms of blocks or bars. The sugar is added separately when baking brownies or cakes.
  • Bittersweet, extra dark, semi-sweet, and dark chocolate, at least in the U.S., are often used interchangeably and should contain no less than 35 percent cacao. (Bittersweet and extra dark tend to have more cacao, while semi-sweet and dark have more sugar.) Unlike the cacao, however, sugar content is not regulated so sweetness may vary between brands.
  • Milk chocolate contains milk (duh) either in the form of powder, liquid, or condensed.
  • White chocolate uses cocoa butter instead of cocoa solids as its main ingredient. As a result, white chocolate lacks many of the health benefits found in darker chocolate.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's dive into the most delectable of chocolates: the dark variety.

What is it?

Chocolate is made from the fruit's seed of the cacao tree and was discovered by European settlers who came by way of the Gulf of Honduras. Cacao trees grew in South America and were a large part of the Aztec and Mayan cultures -- Montezuma, the Aztec king, is said to have drunk liquid chocolate from a golden goblet.

So why this long history of affection for chocolate? Modern scientific studies show chocolate has been known to release endorphins, serotonin, and phenylethylamine in our brains upon consumption which combine to act as a stress reliever and mood lifter. According to CNN, chocolate is good for our hearts and blood pressure, too; the flavonoids found in chocolate increase blood flow, decrease blood clots, and lower both blood pressure and bad cholesterol. And as if that weren't enough, chocolate has been shown to improve the skin, memory, and muscular system.

Maybe Montezuma needed a mood booster after dealing with those conquistadors.

How do I use it?

Chocolate can be eaten plain to satisfy a sweet tooth. It can be baked into a dessert, melted into a fondue, made into a Mexican mole (pronounced "moh-leh") sauce.

Where can I find it?

In the baking or candy aisle of most grocery stores.

Recipes

Here are some recipes guaranteed to score you some points with your valentine. Single? Indulge yourself. You don't need a partner to eat happily.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries This recipe from the Food Network is both tasty and pretty.

Chocolate Fondue Simply Recipes shows you how to make this interactive dessert at home and even offers tips on how to dress up your fondue.

Happy Valentine's Day! What do you do with your dark chocolate?


Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.