Chocolate Obsession: Guest Susan Evans
“The chocoholics’ 12-step program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!”
Who can resist the lure of chocolate? Some of my best food experiences are centered on this divine substance. A plate of Toll House chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk will still soothe me after a bad day on the playground.
Recent reports have touted the health benefits of chocolate; it does have antioxidants, mainly in dark chocolate. Sorry, it just can’t compete with broccoli or brussel sprouts, at least for now. Research is ongoing and I’m hoping to be chosen for future case studies. It is definitely a mood enhancer; just the thought of eating a chocolate macadamia crunch bar makes me quiver in anticipation.
Chocolate comes from the cacao tree, a native of Central and South America. The cacao beans are the source of chocolate and come from the fruit. While visiting a remote farm in Costa Rica I tried a cacao bean fresh out of the pod. Can’t say I was impressed, it was very bitter and nothing like my favorite molten chocolate cake. After being dried and processed the taste improves considerably.
The Aztecs had a high regard for chocolate and used it in their rituals. It was considered an aphrodisiac. Here are a few of my favorite, easy chocolate recipes. These are great for gifts and to make with the kids, monitor intake to prevent elevated activity levels.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Melt good quality chocolate chips on top of a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, fit a metal bowl over a saucepan filled to 1/3 full with water, and keep water at a simmer until the chips are melted. You have to stir them to gauge consistency. Take clean, dry berries, or pineapple, banana slices, angel food cake or whatever else feeds your fancy, dip into the melted chocolate and dry on wax or parchment paper. A student once recommended cherry tomatoes. I’m not that adventurous, but let me know if you try it. Do not get any water in the chocolate, it will solidify, and be careful not to burn it with high heat.
Chocolate Nut Clusters
Melt chocolate as described above and add peanuts, walnuts, pecans, or raisins. I use a cup of chocolate chips to a cup of nuts. Scoop out by the spoonful and dry as above.
Melt chocolate as above and add chow mein noodles. Coat well and spoon onto wax paper. You could also throw in some peanuts.
Easy Toffee Bars
My Mom’s recipe. Easy to make and soooo tasty!
Take saltine crackers and lay out on a cookie sheet, salt side up. Combine 2 sticks of melted butter, (I never said it was healthy), with 1 cup of brown sugar and boil for about 3 minutes. Drizzle over the crackers and place in a 350 oven until bubbling, about 5 minutes. Remove and immediately cover with chocolate chips, smear with the back of a spoon to make an even topping, and coat with chopped nuts.
Susan Evans, CCH, is a Certified Clinical Herbalist and owner of Chrysalis Herbs. She attended the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies, graduating with certificates in western and clinical herbalism, including a clinic internship. Prior to enrollment at RMCBS, she owned Flowerscapes for twelve years, an organic gardening company which specialized in cottage gardens. She is a Master Gardener and has worked as an Open Space Naturalist with Jefferson County. Her private practice includes teaching, writing and consulting in herbal medicine, cooking, gardening and wild edibles and medicinals. www.chrysalisherbs.com