“And above all – Think Chocolate!” Betty Crocker
I have finally managed to start sorting through the recipes that I have been posting on this site and am now in the process of posting them as separate links on the “Recipes” page, on top of the home page. I am almost 3/4 of the way through them now, and have been surprised at how many there are for such a short time of blogging. In the process, however, I was deeply shocked and ashamed to see so very few chocolate recipes. It seems that I have let myself get sadly distracted from from something that has supported me throughout the vicissitudes of life so far – so this week I intend to right that wrong in no uncertain terms!
10 Things you may not know about chocolate!!
1. Chocolate is a valuable energy source and this is why it is often placed in ration packs. 1 chocolate chip can supply enough energy for an adult to walk 150 feet!
2. 30 gms of dark chocolate contains 10% of the daily recommended intake of iron.
3. Theobromine, a constituent of the cacao bean, is used to treat high blood pressure – it dilates the arteries.
4. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine – a chemical which mimics the brain chemistry of a person in love.
5. It also causes the brain to release endorphins, giving us a subtle “high”.
6. Chocolate has over 500 flavour components – far more than either vanilla or strawberry.
7. Mexican nuns in the 18th century were the first to think of solidifying chocolate and used it to raise funds for their convent – the first Chocolate drive!
8. All the bloody scenes in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” were shot using chocolate syrup!
9. Don’t waste your chocolate on dogs – it is toxic to their central nervous systems.
10. Even though it is high in fat, chocolate doesn’t raise cholesterol, nor does it cause acne.
A few weeks ago the nice people at Lindt sent me some of their 70% cocoa specialty cooking chocolate to try so I set aside a morning to make the best possible use of it – the kids were very grateful! For inspiration I turned to someone who is very well versed in chocolate use – David Lebovitz and his excellent book “The Great Book of Chocolate”, producing some brilliant truffles and the obscurely named “Congo bars”! David’s book is a fantastic resource for any chocolate fanatics out there, with loads of information and cooking tips, as well as recipes.
The truffles are dead simple to make and the flavour can vary as much as you like, depending upon what you choose to add.
185 mls cream
250 gms of 70% cooking chocolate, chopped
Good splash of your favourite liqueur to flavour
Dutch cocoa to roll them in.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil. Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until all melted, add liqueur. Put aside or in fridge until firm. Using a melon baller, or a teaspoon, roll into balls. Roll the finished truffles in the sifted cocoa. This is messy and best done on a cool day – no problem here as the weather has been freezing, not like the last time I made them – in January!
Congo bars are very rich, gooey, sweet and delicious, but I have no idea at all how they got that name. If any of my US readers can enlighten me, I would be grateful! They are said to be much improved if kept for a day or two before eating – I wouldn’t know about that, it was not an option in this house.
150 gms butter, melted and cooled
450 gms brown sugar
3 large eggs
385 gms pl flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 160C and grease and line a 25cmx38cm pan.
In mixing bowl, mix butter, sugar and eggs, breaking up any lumps in the sugar.
In a separate n\bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt, then mix with the egg mixture. Stir in Chocolate and nuts.
Spread evenly in pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until browned.
Cool in pan for a few minutes, then slice into bars.