Ah ... the power of chocolate

THE WASHINGTON POSTApril 23, 2014 

Dark chocolate's antioxidant (polyphenols, flavonols) properties are said to be greater than those of many other superfood fruits and seeds.

Although it's not all that difficult to consume the recommended 100 calories' worth per day, it is good to discover ways of working dark chocolate into creations that aren't full of fat or sugar.

DARK CHOCOLATE GRANOLA WITH PLUMS

Serves 4; makes 1 1/2 cups to 1 3/4 cups of granola.

This powerhouse granola is great for breakfast but also makes an energizing midday meal.

The granola can be stored at a cool room temperature for up to 5 days.

1/2 cup rolled oats (do not use quick-cooking or instant)

1 tablespoon flax seed

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon honey

4 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 65 percent cacao), coarsely chopped

2 cups plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt

1 large black plum, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with cooking oil spray.

Combine the oats, flax seed and almonds in a mixing bowl. Stir in the butter and honey until evenly coated, then spread the granola mixture on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then cool. Reserve one-quarter of the granola in a separate medium bowl.

Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water; place it over medium heat. Place the chocolate in a shallow bowl that fits over the opening of the saucepan (to create a double boiler).

Once the chocolate has melted, pour it over the granola on the baking sheet and stir to coat. Refrigerate for 7 to 10 minutes, until firm. Break into small chunks and transfer to the bowl with the smaller portion of granola, then toss lightly to incorporate.

When ready to serve, divide the yogurt among individual bowls. Top each portion with plum slices, then the granola. Garnish with mint, if using, and serve.

Nutrition per serving: 340 calories, 16 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 25 g sugar

DARK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Serves 4.

This dark chocolate mousse is just as rich-tasting as the classic French kind but it uses almond milk instead of heavy cream, and egg whites instead of whole eggs. That cut down on the fat.

If you have concerns about the health risks involved in using raw egg, use a pasteurized brand.

The mousse needs to be refrigerated (covered) for at least 30 minutes before serving. It can be made and refrigerated (covered) up to a day in advance.

You'll need 6-ounce ramekins.

5 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 65 percent cacao), coarsely chopped

5 tablespoons almond milk, warmed

3 large egg whites (3 ounces total)

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoons sugar

4 raspberries, for garnish

4 blackberries, for garnish

Dried culinary lavender, for garnish (optional)

Mint leaves, stacked, rolled and cut crosswise into thin ribbons (chiffonade), for garnish

Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water; place over medium-low heat. Place the chocolate in a bowl that fits over the opening of the saucepan (to create a double boiler). Once the chocolate is soft, stir in the warm almond milk until well-incorporated. Remove from the heat to cool.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on high speed until frothy. With the motor running, gradually add the sugar - this should take about 3 minutes - to form a meringue that's glossy, with soft peaks.

Use a flexible spatula to gently fold half of the meringue into the cooled chocolate mixture. Once it's almost fully incorporated, fold in the remaining meringue until just combined.

Divide among the individual ramekins, smoothing the tops. Cover with plastic wrap, avoiding direct contact with the mousse, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.

Uncover; garnish each portion with the berries, a few grains of the lavender, if using, and the mint chiffonade. Serve right away.

Nutrition per serving: 220 calories, 4 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 25 g sugar.

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