Chocolate has made people blissfully happy for hundreds of years. I would wager you never met a good piece of chocolate that you did not like. It has a creamy, sensual texture and a deeply gratifying taste.
In addition, chocolate triggers an overall euphoric experience. That’s why it is considered to be a romantic food. Giving a gift of chocolate can be interpreted as an expression of passion. Why does chocolate create such magic? Chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine, which is an endorphin. This chemical has been linked to those dizzying feelings associated with romance.
These feelings can include a greatly elevated mood, sense of excitement, attraction and pleasure, and can result in your falling in love. Even if you happen not to be in a relationship or when no one understands you, chocolate is always there.
When it comes to chocolate and the heart, the emphasis should be on dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has some potential heart-healthy advantages beyond that of happiness and love. Dark chocolate is rich in a group of antioxidants called flavanols. In small amounts, this ingredient is said to lower blood pressure, increase vascular health overall, improve LDL cholesterol and could improve cognitive function. So go ahead! Treat yourself with these amazing chocolate desserts. Even if you think that chocolate doesn’t make the world go around, it certainly makes the ride more worthwhile!
BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM
This rich and delicious layered dessert is a bit of heaven. I recently prepared it for my grandson’s first birthday party and I already have “orders” from family to make it again. This trifle is even better when prepared the day before serving.
1 Bailey’s Irish cream chocolate cake, prepared ahead (recipe follows)
1 recipe of Bailey’s Irish cream chocolate mousse (recipe follows)
500 ml whipping cream 35 per cent milk fat
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
8-10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely. Reserve 1/4 cup of chocolate for the garnish.
Whip cream to stiff peaks and then combine in the liqueur.
With a sharp knife or dental floss, slice the cake horizontally into three sections, then cut each section into 8 pie wedge-shaped pieces. Place the 8 sections of the cake on the bottom of a large clear glass bowl or trifle dish
Cover with one third of the mousse, one third of the whipped cream and one third of the chopped chocolate. Repeat with cake wedges, mousse, whipped cream and chopped chocolate two more times or until the bowl is full to the top. Garnish with the remaining chocolate.
To wrap, insert 6 wooden skewers into the trifle around the edge of the bowl. Drape two pieces of plastic wrap in different directions over the skewers and then use other pieces of plastic wrap around the skewers and around the dish. Keep refrigerated.
BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM
1 cup sugar
I cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/4 cups skim milk
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur, or other liqueur
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
3 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350.Using a food processor, cream together the sugars and butter. Add in the eggs, milk and liqueur. Pulse in baking soda and flour. Finally add the cooled chocolate and pulse until there are no streaks in the batter. Prepare a 9-inch spring form pan with a circle of parchment paper on the bottom and spray with canola oil. Pour in batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a test with a toothpick in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool and remove from spring form pan.
BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
500 ml whipping cream, 35 per cent
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur, or other liqueur
2 boxes (113 grams each) instant pudding mix, chocolate flavour
3 cups skim milk
In a large bowl, using a hand held mixer or stand mixer, whip the cream until it stands in soft peaks. Add in the liqueur and whip until combined. In a separate bowl, using the same beaters, mix together the pudding mix and the milk. Whip the mixture for two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture a bit at a time until all combined and without any streaks.
CRISPY CRUNCH CHOCOLATE BAR COOKIES
These double chocolate cookies are so amazing you will wish you knew how to make them years ago.
50 g dark chocolate (1/2 of 100 g bar)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 bars (100 grams each bar) *assorted chocolate bars, coarsely chopped
In a small microwave-safe dish, melt the 50 grams of chopped chocolate on medium for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave 15 to 30 seconds more or until chocolate is softened. Stir until smooth and let cool.
In food processor, blend butter until creamy. Add brown and granulated sugar and continue blending until mixture is light and fluffy. Combine in the egg and vanilla, then add in the cooled chocolate.
Add cocoa, baking soda, salt and flour using gentle pulses until combined.
Mix in chopped chocolate. Remove to a bowl, then cover and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350. Cover three baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using a mini ice cream scoop or your hands, shape dough into 1 inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Cookies will spread out during baking.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes. Place baking sheets on wire racks to cool. Do not remove cookies from the parchment paper until they are cool.
*Note: chocolate bars can be the same dark chocolate as in the batter, or you can mix them up, for example, using one milk chocolate, one with peanuts or raisins or one white chocolate. Every batch can produce totally different cookies.