All About Chocolates

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Chocolate may be known to be aphrodisiac but there is more to this much-loved food including numerous health benefits and more.

Jo Brand, English comedian, writer, presenter and actress once famously said, “anything is good if it’s made of chocolate.” With chocolates going the artisanal route and conscientious makers taking chocolate seriously, it would be hard to debate this comment. And considering it is Valentine month, chocolates mean much more and are certainly the flavour of the season.

Good Vibes Only

Chocolates today are changing to become all good things, healthy and organic. The focus is on how the chocolate is grown and hence concepts like single origin chocolates that focus on the plantation where the cacao is grown is becoming important. There are several artisan chocolate brands that pride themselves on making gourmet chocolate by hand using slow techniques and are free of preservatives. Jerson Fernandes, Executive Chef, Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia explains, “today’s generation has accepted chocolates to be a life saver, with various flavors and healthier versions of chocolates available right from organic to 90% dark, extra cocoa and the like it is also readily available in stores and online. Consumers have taken cognizance of the very fact that chocolate is healthy and easy to use hence you would find it in almost every dessert recipe. It is a welcome change to see chocolates taking centre stage in the buffets and menus of almost all restaurants and hotels thanks to the awareness generated by chefs and travellers.” Neelabh Sahay, Executive Chef, Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences avers, “commercial chocolate bars, products are not pure chocolate. It has a lot of additives which are in the form of sugars and artificial flavourings and colour. The informed consumer has changed the market dynamics of chocolates and now the market if full of 70%-80% dark chocolate.”

Vanilla Cremeux Bar courtesy Ruby Islam, Pastry Chef, Fabelle, ITC Windsor
Vanilla Cremeux Bar courtesy Ruby Islam, Pastry Chef, Fabelle, ITC Windsor

Health Factor

The key factor when eating chocolate is to ensure that you opt for dark chocolate that typically contains 70% or higher cocoa content. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating a small amount of chocolate could reduce your risk of heart disease. The recommended “dose” is approximately 1 to 2 ounces or 30-60 grams according to experts and anything more means that you may be consuming too many calories. Dark chocolate that has more cacao is believed to be a powerful source of antioxidants, prevents memory decline, aphrodisiac and is also rich in nutrients. Chocolate is made from Theobroma cacao tree seeds and dark chocolates contain good saturated and monounsaturated fats with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat. The polyphenols, flavanols and catechins in dark chocolates work as excellent antioxidants too. Controlled studies have shown that dark chocolates can also raise good cholesterol and improve blood pressure apart from lowering the risk of heart disease and improving brain function. Artisan chocolates are also mostly organic and use free trade cacao beans so it makes more sense to pick brands like them that have an eye on the ecology as well. Choose a chocolate that lists cocoa as its first ingredient and you are likely picking up a good bar. Also, chocolates have taken a leap of faith with new variants that have ingredients like sea salt caramel, black sesame, Himalayan Pink Salt, rosemary, blueberries, red capsicum and chilli which is ensuring that they are the go to dessert as far as making a sweet choice is concerned.

Spearmint Chocolate Mousse courtesy Neelabh Sahay, Executive Chef, Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences

Ingredients:

Roasted Cashew 100 Gms
Butter 100 Gms
Breakfast sugar 100 Gms
Cooking cream 25 Gms
Refined flour 50 Gms
Icing sugar 100 Gms
Melted dark chocolate 300 Gms
Egg white 3 No
Egg yolk 3 No
Spearmint 5 Gms
Vanilla bean 1 No

Method:

Make crumbs with flour, half of the butter and icing sugar. Spread it on a baking tray and bake it for 15 minutes at 180 degree centigrade. Sprinkle roasted cashewnuts on the butter flour mixture. In a cooking pan, put breakfast sugar and cook till it attains honey colour. Add half of the butter and   cream mix nicely, pour on the cashew. Allow it to set and cut accordingly. Whip the egg whites with breakfast sugar till stiff then add the egg yolks. Mix the molten chocolate and spearmint with the above mix and keep inside the refrigerator. Plate it according to liking and serve room temperature.

Read the full story in Deccan Chronicle / Asian Age dated Feb 9, 2020 here:

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