Valentine’s Day gives every chocolate lover a free pass to indulge. This year I’m planning a rendezvous with this Chocolate Almond Cake with Bay Whipped Cream, and I’ll whip up My Fruity Nutty Chocolate Valentine candies to share with the sweethearts in my life.
Whether you opt for a hot cup of cocoa on a cold day or a square of a decadently delicious chocolate bar after dinner, it’s good to know that studies show dark chocolate (in moderation, of course!) can bring added health benefits. Look for 70% or higher cocoa solids to savor the flavor and enjoy the benefits:
Dark chocolate contains polyphenol antioxidants to help support heart health.
Stearic acid, a unique type of saturated fatty acid found in dark chocolate is believed to be neutral for cholesterol levels.
Cocoa beans contain flavonoids, much like what you find in red wine and tea. They act as antioxidants, and can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Dark chocolate is often eaten right out of hand (yum) and here are more ideas and recipes for Valentine’s Day and every day!
Satisfy just about any craving with this Chocolate Dipped Anything recipe. Dried and fresh fruits work great, and so do nuts, chips, crackers and pretzels. You can try it with whole, fresh strawberries for a Valentine treat. Also great with thick slices of banana!
Grate chocolate and use as a garnish for fruit salads, yogurt, ice cream or other favorite frozen desserts. It’s also delicious on custard, pudding, flan or crème brûlée. If you prefer, melt the chocolate and drizzle over top instead.
Make a healthy Double Chocolate Cake. It’s vegan, gluten free and there are no added oils or refined sugars. What a bonus!
Mix dark chocolate chips with nuts, seeds, dried whole grain cereal, unsweetened coconut chips, and dried fruit for an energy-packed trail mix snack.
Here’s another melted treat: Chocolate Dipped Figs with Almonds. These are beautiful — perfect for presenting to your Valentine.
Make chocolate milk: Stir dark chocolate chips or shavings into hot milk or non-dairy milk. For extra flavor and winter warmth, add a drop of vanilla extract and a sprinkling of warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger.
Add dark chocolate chips to muffins, pancakes, granola, scones, cakes, cupcakes, cookies and bars. Try these Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies, Flourless Double Decadent Chocolate Cookies or Chocolate Chip Soda Bread.
Spread toast with melted dark chocolate. Or sprinkle chocolate chips over a nut butter-covered slice.
Melt chocolate and add a touch of cream, coconut milk, milk or non-dairy alternative — just enough to make it easy to spread. Use this in place of frosting for cakes and cupcakes, bars and cookies.
Remember, cocoa butter melts just below body temperature of 98.6°F. To avoid scorching, always gently melt at 115°F or less. For more information, check out our Guide to Chocolate.
Do you have a favorite chocolate-based treat? I’d love to hear it!