I love dark chocolate. It smells good, it tastes good and it’s good for you. Years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a recipe book that only has recipes made with chocolate because she knew how much I love it.
When I cook or bake, I use cacao powder or a chocolate bar for making desserts. There are many kinds of chocolate bars, but I always go for the one that has 70% pure cocoa /cacao. The best chocolate bar for your health is dark chocolate with high cacao/cocoa content and hasn’t undergone Dutch processing or hasn’t been treated with an alkali.
Dark chocolate, including pure cacao powder contain flavonoids, which are the same antioxidant compounds found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These compounds reduce inflammation and improve blood flow to your brain and heart. They also help lower blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Dark chocolate and pure cacao powder are rich in fibre and minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron.
Currently, there are no dietary guidelines as to how much dark chocolate you should eat to reap the health benefits. However, studies show that a little bit of dark chocolate every day is good for you. Here are seven benefits of dark chocolate. But remember, not all chocolates are created equal. Even some dark chocolates, which are known as the healthier kind, may not promote health.
Purer and darker chocolate bars may have a slight bitter taste, but you can learn to appreciate it. If you are not used to the taste, I recommend that you start with a 60% pure cocoa or cacao chocolate and gradually move upward to a 70%, 80% or 85%. These chocolates contain more flavonoids and nutrients than milk chocolate or other dark overly processed chocolates.
Check the package when you buy chocolate. If it says “processed with alkali” on the label, then that chocolate is low in flavonoids and nutrients and has no nutritional value. For information on different healthy dark chocolate brands, see this link.
As featured above, I’ve created a chocolate brownie made with raw ingredients such as date paste, ground almonds, almond butter, maple syrup, applesauce and 70% dark chocolate. There’s no refined sugar, no flour and no dairy butter. It is more delicious than the traditional brownies that I used to make. And they taste great with a cup of coffee!
Here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy this chewy and delicious chocolate treat.
Chewy chocolate brownies
Level: very easy
Makes 20-24 squares
- 2oo grams (approx. 1cup of small broken chunks) 70% pure cacao/ cocoa dark chocolate bar
- 1/2 cup almond butter (the dark kind) or cashew paste
- 2/3 cup date paste (8-10 Medjool dates)*
- 1 cup unsweetned apple sauce
- 6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 cups almond meal (ground almonds)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- Sprinkle coconut flakes on top (option)
*If you haven’t already made the date paste, put 8-10 Medjool pitted dates in a small bowl and add a little hot water to soften them. Zap this in the microvawe for 10 seconds or so. When soft, process the dates with the water in a small food processor or hand held blender to form a paste. It’s fine if your paste is a little chunky.
Preheat oven at 350°F / 180°C.
Line a 9X13 inch (23X33 cm) rectangular oven proof pan with parchment cooking paper.
Break the chocolate into small chunks, put in a small bowl and heat on high in microwave until melted. Take out, give it a stir and set aside. In a large bowl, beat on low the almond butter, date paste and apple sauce until mixed. Add the maple syrup and melted chocolate and beat again. To the mixture, add the almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and pinch of salt and gently beat until the wet and the dry are well blended.
Pour the mixture into the rectangular pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes. The brownies are done when the top is slightly cracked and firm and toothpick test still shows traces of moist chocolate.
What’s important is to let the brownies cool completely before slicing them (when out of the oven, the mixture is still active and coming together). They also taste better when cool and stored in the fridge.