Great ingredients make for great meals. Whenever you can, use the highest quality supplies for your recipes. The flavor difference will always come through in your finished dish.
If there is an ingredient that you are not familiar with, check our Ingredient section. There are pages and pages of information about the ingredients used in my recipes.
If chocolate liquor is not dried and ground into cocoa powder, it is refined further by replacing some of the cocoa butter with lecithin (and other ingredients depending on the manufacturer) to create a smooth velvety chocolate. This unsweetened chocolate is what we know as baker's chocolate. It is also called bitter chocolate and is the base for most of the chocolate sweets created today.
Some baker's chocolate has sugar added to it to make bittersweet chocolate. Most recipes will specify whether you should use unsweetened baker's chocolate or bittersweet baker's chocolate.
1 ounce bittersweet baker's chocolate = 142 calories, 12g fat, 6g sat fat, 0g mono fat, 2g protein, 14g carbohydrates, 0mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol
1 ounce unsweetened baker's chocolate = 139 calories, 15g fat, 9g sat fat, 0g mono fat, 3g protein, 8g carbohydrates, 0mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol
Why Do You Crave Chocolate at That Time of the Month?
Chocolate cravings are an interesting phenomenon: over 45% of undergraduate women in the United States report having a regular craving for chocolate, and over 90% of women admit to craving chocolate at least once in their lives. Oddly enough, this phenomenon seems to be largely limited to adults in North American countries - other cultures do not seem to crave chocolate any more than they might crave anything else.
Good News for Those Who Love Chocolate, Wine or Tea
I've talked before about the positive effects of polyphenols, which are found in fruits like grapes and in tea, red wine, cocoa and coffee. The largest subtype of polyphenols are called flavonoids. There's been some really interesting research linking the intake of flavonoids and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's Disease and dementia in general. On the one hand, it seems that moderate alcohol use may help prevent Alzheimer's, but on the other hand, too much alcohol has long been regarded as one of the causes of dementia.
Plant Sterols in Chocolate
I'm sure you've seen them at the supermarket: foods that have been enriched with plant sterols. These compounds have been shown to help improve cholesterol scores - so much so that the FDA has approved the use of a health claim about it on foods that contain plant sterols. The American Heart Association actually recommends that you include 2 grams of plant sterols per day as part of a healthy diet.
Hot Chocolate for High Blood Pressure?
It's a good idea for those with high blood pressure to make sure they're getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diet. Not just for overall health, but because the polyphenols, or flavonoids, in fruits and vegetables have been linked with reduced blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease. Yet the foods with the largest amounts of polyphenols are not foods at all but beverages - tea and cocoa.
Chocolate joy, chocolate guilt
A group of researchers were curious about what our emotional responses to chocolate are (Appetite 2006; 46: 332 - 336). They asked 37 women between the ages of 19 and 30 to eat either chocolate, an apple, or nothing twice a day over a 6 day period. The timing of the consumption of each food was determined by instructions contained in sealed envelopes. After eating the instructed food, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire at 5, 30, 60 and 90 minutes.
Yes, chocolate IS different for men and women
The effect of food stimuli and the resulting feeling of satisfaction (or "satiety") in the brain can actually be observed by performing Medical Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans on the brain. While sex differences in eating behavior have been documented, most research on brain activation related to eating has been limited to men only or have lumped men and women together.