Chocolate comforts and sooths when life gets tough and provides the perfect reward for a job well done. It’s the ultimate indulgence food as it melts luxuriously in the mouth, exciting taste buds and the sensory centres of the brain.
Most of the chocolate eaten in the UK is eaten as ‘milk chocolate’ but this sort of chocolate is barely chocolate in the true sense of the word because it contains only a small amount of cocoa solids – the ingredient that gives chocolate its characteristic flavour. When you eat chocolate with a low percentage of cocoa solids what you are really getting your kick from is vegetable fat and sugar.
Good quality plain dark chocolate on the other hand contains a high percentage of cocoa solids which are derived from natural part of the fermented cocoa bean. This type of chocolate also contains a high percentage of natural cocoa butter which is unique amongst fats for its melting properties; it stays solid up to about 25˚C but then melts over a very small temperature range, just below body temperature (37˚C). This means that the chocolate melts beautifully and cleanly in the mouth, releasing intense, bittersweet chocolate aromas. Many types of plain dark chocolate containing 70% cocoa solids are completely dairy free.
In one way dark plain chocolate is healthier for us as it does not contain the type of fats that tend to raise blood cholesterol levels. According to recent research reported in the journal Nature consuming plain dark chocolate, high in antioxidants may promote cardiovascular health by making the blood clot less easily. This effect was not seen when milk chocolate eaten. But no matter even dark chocolate contains calories – about 500 kcals per 100 g bar.
To appreciate the true value of chocolate you need to revise how you eat it. This will not only enhance your pleasure and remove the guilt associated with chocolate eating but it will also have a more healthy impact on your diet.
The best way to eat chocolate
The real reason why we all love chocolate is for its flavour and mouth feel. To get the best, most concentrated chocolate flavours choose a plain dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids. Chocolate containing 70% cocoa solids will give you a really good flavour.
When you eat really good quality dark chocolate for the first time nibble it slowly and allow it to gently melt in your mouth so that you savour each piece you eat. This is a full on chocolate eating experience and you will not need to eat much to satisfy your taste buds.
Eating chocolate with a sensitive gut
Try not to eat it when you are too hungry as you will be tempted to eat too much and too much fat can trigger symptoms in the sensitive gut. Other than that there are no fermentable carbohydrates to trigger symptoms and most people can enjoy a little dark chocolate without any problems.
Making your own chocolate.
If you want to make a chocolate shape which snaps crisply as you bite you will need to master one technique known as ‘tempering’.
Tempering is when you heat and cool molten chocolate within carefully prescribed temperature so that it sets hard, will remain glossy and keep its shape. There has been a boom in chocolate making courses all over the country. I went to a great one at Bettys, Harrogate a few years ago.
Sue Frisby, the founding member of the IBS Network is testament to the power of chocolate and its ability to enhance life. She makes her own wonderful handmade chocolate, from her home by the sea in North Wales. All the photos in this post are of Sue’s delicious chocolates.
She uses the finest ingredients which include: organic Peruvian, or Equidorian, unroasted cacao beans, a small amount of sugar extracted from coconuts, pure flavour extracts and a touch of pink Himalayan salt.
Sue has also introduced other ingredients into her 50 g bars: mulberry and macadamia, hazelnut, orange and raisin crunch and coconut crumble.
The brown skinned nuts in the chocolate bars are activated. The nuts are soaked and well rinsed before being dehydrated. This makes them beautifully crunchy and apparently improves the bioavailability of the nutrients to the body.
We love them and all of Sue’s beautifully, lovingly made chocolate.
For more information on Choco Mama and its products contact Sue Frisby
Our new book contains some lovely chocolate recipes. It can be bought at Amazon and all good bookshops.
For more information on how to manage your sensitive gut follow this link to the IBS Network