Chocolate: A Forever Romance

Whether plain or with nuts, spices, dried fruit, a sliver of cheese or a splash of wine, rekindle your chocolate romance with chocolate — the darker, the better!

Every Valentines’ Day I rekindle my never-ending romance with chocolate.

The darker the chocolate, the better. It is a sensual delight, whether plain or with nuts, spices, dried fruit, a sliver of cheese or a splash of wine. Alas, I am hardly the only one involved in this romantic escapade with chocolate. Annual world consumption of cocoa beans averages about 600,000 tons!

And did you know that it takes about 400 of those cocoa beans to make just one pound of chocolate? Not only are all of the myriad forms of chocolate indescribably decadent and aromatic, the darker versions are also good for us!

Here’s what I mean:

  • Dark chocolate is packed with high-quality polyphenol antioxidants that may promote overall cardiovascular health.

  • Cocoa beans include flavonoids (like those found in tea and red wine), which support healthy cholesterol levels and act as antioxidants.

  • Chocolate delivers stearic acid, a unique fatty acid thought to be neutral for cholesterol levels.

Here’s a peek at the many glorious forms of chocolate:

But if you are looking for a truly romantic bittersweet chocolate experience, look no further than this Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze. opens in a new tab

To keep chocolate fresh, wrap it tightly, preferably in its original wrapping, and store it in a dry place at about 65°F to 70°F. Since it easily absorbs odors, be sure to store it away from any strong-smelling items.  Properly stored, most chocolate will keep for more than a year, and dark chocolate will keep even longer.
Remember that cocoa butter melts at just below 98.6° F, the body’s average temperature. This is exactly why the best place to melt chocolate is directly in your mouth! But since that’s not practical or acceptable for chocolate recipes, you’ll want to avoid scorching by gently melting at 115°F or less. 

You can do this in two ways:

  1. Double Boiler Method: Put chopped chocolate into a double boiler or heatproof mixing bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water and stirring gently until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. (Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the boiling water or the chocolate may burn.)

  2. Microwave Method: Heat chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl at half power, stopping to stir gently every 30 seconds, until completely melted and smooth.

As the chocolate melts, be sure to watch for signs that it may be “seizing” or turning grainy. This happens when moisture, such as a splash of water or a bit of steam, gets into the chocolate after it’s already begun to melt.
Some recipes call for melting chocolate along with liquid such as milk. That’s okay, as long as the liquid is added at the beginning. If you’ve been wondering about white chocolate, it does resembles chocolate and certainly smells like it, but because it’s made of cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar and vanilla and does not contain chocolate liquor, it’s not really chocolate at all.

For more information, here’s our Guide to Chocolate opens in a new tab. Are you celebrating this Valentine’s Day with a chocolate romance?

Got a favorite way to indulge with chocolate? Let me know!

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