Food & Drink

TEDDI A. WOHLFORD: Behhold the power of dark chocolate

If you have an undying passion for rich, deep, dark chocolate then we must be related. I’ve got lots of kinfolk out there, and you know who you are.

What my sisters and brothers of the Dark Chocolate Loves Society know is that there are few things that chocolate can’t make better. If you’ve got something to celebrate, chocolate is the answer. If you need to be consoled after one of life’s bitter disappointments, chocolate is the answer. If you had a terrific day or event a hard day, chocolate is the answer. OK, you get my point here.

And it is as if all of the stars are perfectly aligned because almost all nutritional health care professionals agree on the following:

Dark chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidants.

Dark chocolate is very nutritious.

Dark chocolate may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Dark chocolate raises HDL and protects LDL against oxidation.

Dark chocolate may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Could chocolate indeed be the perfect food? Perhaps not a perfect food, but it sure is a great starting point.

Today I am blissfully happy to share with you three of my favorite recipes for desserts celebrating the joys of dark chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake is a gluten-free recipe -- hey, another health benefit! This super-rich, super-dark, super-dense dessert is so extravagant that small servings are strongly suggested. And be sure to serve it topped with a cloud of freshly whipped cream to help cut the richness and add to the overall chocolate euphoria.

Want to cuddle up in a warm chocolate blanket? Look no further than my Chocolate Bread Pudding with a Buttered Bourbon Sauce. My husband, Bill, originally from New Orleans, is a chocoholic of the first degree. So it was in his honor that I created this dessert. This chocolate bread pudding has rivers of dark chocolate running throughout -- be still my heart!

If you’re a dark chocolate lover, but prefer a “lighter” dessert, I recommend my recipe for a super easy, no fail chocolate mousse that you prepare in a blender or food processor.

After the mixture is thoroughly chilled, spoon or pipe (using a large star tip fitted into a piping bag) into dessert dishes, stemmed wine glasses, or my edible chocolate tulip bowls, formed by dipping balloons in melted chocolates -- a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy.

And just one other tidbit about fully enjoying dark chocolate: Everything in moderation! I’d say 99.7 percent of nutritional healthcare professionals agree on this -- and so do I!

TEDDI’S RECIPES

Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake

CAKE:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels

6 egg yolks

12 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 egg whites

GANACHE GLAZE:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup corn syrup (light or dark)

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Serves 12-16.

Cake: Bring butter to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate morsels. Let stand for 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

In a medium mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with 6 tablespoons sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Beat until almost all of the sugar has dissolved. Combine with the melted chocolate mixture and blend thoroughly.

In a clean glass or metal mixing bowl using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until foamy. Ever so gradually, add 6 tablespoons sugar. Beat until medium-firm peaks hold. Add 1/3 of the egg white mixture to the chocolate mixture, stirring to fully incorporate and loosen the chocolate mixture. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites to the chocolate batter. Fold in remaining third of the egg whites. Stir gently until no white streaks remain.

Transfer batter to prepared springform pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour. Place on a cooling rack. As the cake cools, it will fall in the center. Press around edges of pan to level the cake.

Once cooled thoroughly to room temperature, loosen cake from the springform pan. Remove from pan. Peel away the parchment collar from the cake. Invert cake onto a cardboard round of slightly smaller diameter than the cake itself. Peel away the parchment. Prepare the ganache glaze.

Ganache glaze: Bring the cream and the corn syrup to a low boil. Add the chocolate morsels and let stand for about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth and the chocolate is melted. Place a piece of foil, parchment or wax paper on a clean work surface. Place the cake (on the cardboard round) on a bowl of smaller diameter than the cake itself, centered on the foil.

Spread about 1 cup of the ganache over the top of the cake. Spoon or drizzle the remaining ganache over the sides of the cake, letting the glaze to drip off the sides of the cake.

Note: Using an offset spatula, scrape the glaze up and redistribute over the cake as desired -- you may have to reheat the glaze a bit in the microwave to make it more liquid.

Place in the refrigerator until the glaze is firm. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to five days.

To serve: Serve small wedges, garnishing each serving with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. This cake is super rich, so may I suggest small servings.

Chocolate Tulip Cups

8 ounces white “chocolate” candy coating

8 ounces dark “chocolate” candy coating

12 (3 1/2-inch) water balloons (purchase extra balloons as some will be “duds”)

2-3 large cookie sheets covered with parchment

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt candy coatings in three separate bowls, using the melting instructions on the candy product packaging. Keep chocolate warm and liquid (I find a heating pad works great. Fully blow up the balloons and tie securely.

On a parchment-covered cookie sheet, using a 1/2 cup measure, pour out a 3-inch wide strip of white chocolate (it should be about 10-inches long). Right beside it, pour out a dark chocolate strip. Using the back of a teaspoon, swirl together the chocolates.

Before dipping the balloons in chocolate, make certain that the chocolate is no warmer than body temperature. If the chocolate is too warm, the chocolate-coated balloon will burst -- trust me here!

Working with one balloon at a time, holding the balloon by the top, dip only the lower third into the chocolates. Tip the balloon back and forth to create the “petals” of a tulip. Be careful not to cover the balloon too high -- not beyond the curve -- or the chocolate will crack when remove the balloon once the chocolate hardens. Place the chocolate-covered balloons side by side on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Let chocolate harden.

Make sure that the balloon bottom is heavily coated, you may choose to coat the bottom with another layer of chocolate. Use additional chocolate as needed to cover all of the balloons.

If the chocolate starts to harden on the cookie sheet that you’re working from as a “palette,” place the cookie sheet briefly in the preheated oven to re-melt the chocolate, but do not get the chocolate too warm.

Once the chocolate has hardened (for a few hours) on all of the balloons, you will need to release the chocolate tulip cups from the balloons. Grasp the balloon by the stem and prick a small hole in the top at the stem end, continuing to hold the stem end. Carefully and slowly release the air from the balloon. Remove deflated balloon from the cups. Fill these fragile beauties with your favorite chocolate mousse.

Easiest Chocolate Mousse Ever

1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

3 tablespoons prepared espresso

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

Serves eight.

Place chocolate in blender. Bring half-and-half just to a boil. Add sugar and espresso; stir to dissolve. Pour over chocolate. Cover blender with lid and blend 5 seconds. Add eggs.

Cover tightly; blend on high 1 minute. Pour into 8 small bowls, goblets or ramekins. Chill several hours, until firm.

Quick Fix Raspberry Sauce

1 (12-ounce) jar seedless raspberry jam

2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur

Makes about 11/4 cups.

Blend jam and liqueur together until smooth.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one year. Use as a dessert sauce and decorative drizzle.

Chocolate Bread Pudding

1 quart milk

1 (12-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels

21/4 cups sugar, divided

6 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 (12-ounce) loaf stale French bread, torn into bite size pieces

1 (6-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Serves 12.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish. Heat milk to boiling, then remove from heat. Place 12 ounces chocolate morsels in large mixing bowl. Pour hot milk over chocolate morsels. Let rest 2-3 minutes. Whisk until smooth.

Beat in 2 cups sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Stir in bread pieces and 6-ounce package chocolate morsels. Turn mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 1 hour.

Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining1/4 cup sugar. Continue to bake 15-20 minutes longer, until set in center and the top is crusty. Serve warm with Bourbon Sauce or freshly whipped cream. Leftovers reheat beautifully.

Buttered Bourbon Sauce

3/4 cup butter

1 (1-pound) box 10X confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup bourbon

2 tablespoons corn starch

2 cups water

In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar and bourbon.

Place the cornstarch in a small bowl. Add the water, stirring to dissolve. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan. Stirring often, bring to a boil and cook until thickened and alcohol has cooked off somewhat.

Serve warm over bread pudding or other deserts as desired. Makes a lot! Store any leftover sauce tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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