Start with Breakfast Chocolate

heart on chocolateDon’t listen to anyone who says beginning your day with chocolate is [pejoratively] indulgent. Scientists at Syracuse compiled research that a breakfast slice of peanut butter frosted, cauliflower infused chocolate cake should probably be an essential mind and body kickstart. Actually, you probably currently do worse by not rousing yourself from sleep with an offering (to your body, the temple) of a nibble or more of chocolate. It is probably even worth your time to consider consuming even more dark chocolate throughout the day, and proselytizing — albeit not to the point of being annoying — that friends and family do likewise.

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely read again and often how eating chocolate (usually dark and with less sugar and lead than the drugstore varieties) has extraordinary benefits. Research indicates that eating it will make you happier; keep you calmer; add to your intelligence; could make you smarter; and, if your mother had cared enough about you to eat more, even added to your neo-natal development. It is helpful before and after a workout, should be a part of a general program of health, and, paradoxically, can even be eaten all day as a diet aid, with the caveat that a diet solely based in consuming chocolate and making incredible claims to solve all your problems is likely a hoax.

Think before you eat! As with all things cocoa-based, and most things generally, enjoy in moderation so as not to lose enjoyment of the flavoring in a misguided, maniacal quest toward some out-of-reach goal. In other words, eating chocolate all day should not become a life where you eat ONLY chocolate all day: doing so has been proven to make you sick, fortunately a reversible predicament. An aside, in Midas-myth form, the problem of “too much” is told by Patrick Skene Catling’s 1952 children’s book, The Chocolate Touch.

Summarizing: no surprise, we’re pro dark chocolate. Eat it all day, but never as the only thing you eat. Remember, science and scientists!

Chocolate Loves Science

Chocolate pleasures the palate, as it seduces the eyes. In print and on the internet. Which science journo John Bohannon took advantage of when he deliberately used bad science to try and break the internet (and point out to others why covering scientific studies should not be the same as spreading gossip) with the headline kidnapping claim that consuming chocolate can be a weight loss shortcut.

In addition to highlighting gullibility and dream fulfillment yearnings, Bohannon’s stunt also brings to the fore the reality that science and chocolate are often engagingly entwined. Sometime it’s not in a positive way, such as when Arizona Senator Flake mounted his barricades to shrill and (try to) kill a $135,000 grant supporting chocolate’s preservation.

Other times science and chocolate are unattractively meshed in the most attractive of tales (even if they are still kinda heartwarming) such as when empathy among rats was proven with the choice of drowning pals over nibbles of chocolate.

Admittedly, not all science is great science. There are the pseudo-scientists to consider, such as those Australians who put their mouths where their brains are and tested a vegemite — chocolate concoction.

However, there are also cocoa “doctors” (sponsored by Mars) trying to help Indonesian cacao farmers fending off a potential chocolate shortage; there are scientists x-raying bloom (the white dust that can form on a chocolate bar); and there are those scientists in England trying to stave off extinction of cacao species with research that the Flakester is trying to limit.

While keeping chocolate extant rather than extinct is important, you have to admit that it is not as immediately exciting as when cacao and science spark the imagination as they do for Good Mythical Morning‘s Rhett and Link when they harmonize CHOCOLATE POWERED ROBOTS FROM BEYOND THE MOON!

#science #politics #robots #media

Don’t Hit Them, Eat the (Chocolate) Books

chocolate booksMuch can be said about chocolate as the hook upon which to hang a narrative. For non-fiction it might be the big bang for a review of issues arising from an incident of killing bears in New Hampshire, or destroying monkey habitats in the Cote d’Ivoire. The cacao pod can also germinate into a policy discussion on international trade as Canada and Mexico currently threaten a war using US chocolate as a hostage. It may also support an economics case study as in the case of how Venezuela’s President Maduro screws up Venezuela’s cocoa trade as he also dissolves the positives in the remainder of his country’s economy.

Or it could be the genesis for fiction. Recently, proving that powdered cocoa actually can expire, an Italian granny poisoned famiglia by serving from a package more than 30 years old. For novelists in search of ignition, there are also the tragic tales with comic elements of the Syrian refugee who on his eighteenth attempt to flee the country’s misery nearly drowned in a tank of British chocolate, and the Granite State hunter who killed the bears with dark chocolate but was so heartbroken he took the season off hunting them with bullets.

While the quality brown continues to intrigue authors and readers, changes in publishing provide less incentive to write those stories. However, as long as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tops lists of favorite books at least a few cocoa-themed books to make it to shelves.

Among recent publications to seek are mystery writer Joanna Fluke’s latest in the Hannah Swensen series, Double Fudge Brownie Murder, as well as the paperback Hallmark Channel movie tie-in for The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.

For readers whose interests head in the direction of gay-themed steampunk romance there is H.B. Kurtzwilde’s Chocolatiers of the High Winds, while those with a preference for the more evangelical Christian of themes may find succor in the pages of Deb Burma’s Living a Chocolate Life.

Providing middle-schoolers interested in health (or needing to write a report on something interesting), something to chew on there is Chocolate: Sweet Science & Dark Secrets of the World’s Favorite Treat by Kay Frydenborg. Finally, there is the most traditional of looks at chocolate: the methods and recipes book of a noted chocoaltiere, in this case choco-genius Fritz Knipschildt’s (and co-author Mary Goodbody’s) Chocopologie

If after reading all this you find yourself too tired to red, there is also Book, The Baking of courtesy of Ann Reardon.

#chocolate #videos #books

Chocolate for Breakfast, the Summer Meltdown

chocolate chip pancakesChocolate for breakfast is the sort of brilliance that occurs when you think too much … or when summer suffocatingly swelters and you just can’t think at all. It is a flash, a vision, a great soundbite whose endgame is often one of disappointment — why else are there unfinished Nutella jars?

So, despite whatever future regrets the rest of this post may offer, we’ll note that CforB does backstroke languidly through the zeitgeist. To enter into the swim, just dump chocolate chips into pancake or waffle batter, do the “chocolate” spread thing on toast, or ignore the edibles altogether and start your day with a bump of chocolate shooter

If you wish to be a tad more selective in chocolatizing your morning, consider the words of Oprah (presumably the heavier version, although her editorial staff does make mention of research into cacao’s slimminging properties). She who shall be named by but one letter hath weighed in with her collection of “healthy” chocolate breakfast recipes.

Non-caloric cultural variants of this foodie trend (at least occasional trend include Chocolate for Breakfast, the mostly forgettable USA Network 90-minute movie knockoff of a Sex and the City episode, and Chocolates for Breakfast, a 1950s novel that literary history claims shocked contemporary sensibilities, as it was penned by an eighteen-year-old Pamela Moore, who fictionalized based on her life in ways teens were not supposed to think about,much less read or write about; sadly she would go on to commit suicide in her 20s, months after giving birth to her son.

More recently, a Nashville group trying to gain some noise for a young singer in the Inspirational Christian God Country (anything left out there?) category took up the CforB — not to be confused the hallowed TCB line — and tossed out to YoutTube a Chocolate for Breakfast ditty recognizably owing much more to the concept of a Hannah Montana than the tradition of a Kitty Wells.

Wandering a bit further afield, there is Bill Cosby getting his way with his wife by feeding kids a Chocolate Cake for Breakfast, which is only another way of starting the days with the breakfast basics of milk and eggs and flour.

If hunger has built from having traversed the internet so, perhaps it is time to return to the original idea. As a recommended, occasional indulgence, consider a “perfect chocolate pancake,” this one courtesy Cupcake Jemma.

Speechifying With Chocolate

darkCan there be a touch of hype when talking chocolate? There can be,but we are almost always happy to move beyond the silliness on behalf of taste and entertainment. Which is why we heartily recommend listening to claims about how a chocolate bar has led to a revolution in teaching math, and, not to put too fine a point on it, HOW CHOCOLATE CAN SAVE THE PLANET!!!!!

The good folks making the claims did so at Ted Talks, a series of short presentations that often enough are seen in videos going viral that feature an animated presenter who begins with a counter-intuitive assertion or fringe experience and then as PowerPoint slides in the background hover makes his or her way to a larger — if sometimes and somewhat limited by real life — truth. To be fair, sometimes the TTs are performance art for aspiring high brows and other times they are just another platform through which someone promotes their brand. However, that shouldn’t take away too much from these celebrations of cacao.

Nigel Nisbet explores his path from teacher to math gamer content visionary thanks to an epiphany he had while considering the packaging of the Toblerone bar, while Shawn Stevenson highlights a bit of history and science and while most of it is how an individual can be healthier, the overall theme is that if all individuals are healthier then the entire planet will be better as well. (For another Ted Talk on how chocolate consumption perfects the person, see the earlier post Choco-Hype, Healthily Speaking, highlighting the claims of David Wolfe.)

Choco-Hype, Healthily Speaking

darkThere is joyous screeching again about dark chocolate as the panacea for whatever ails you. It includes excitement about how dark chocolate promotes healthy teeth. Hyperventilating is also encouraged by headlines howling the news of a study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Mars (not that there is necessarily an undue amount of self-interest here in how taking a couple high-concetrate flavanol-extracted dark chocolate pills (or fake) a day will buck up the old ticker, which follows up a report on dark chocolate helping to restore flexibility to arteries for 44 Dutch fathertubbies by preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels.

Not to diminish any unfettered joy with some ick, but the key seems to be something about how gut bacteria feast on dark chocolate and (better living through chemistry) how that produces burgeoning good microbes.

Speaking of “good microbes,” this might be as good a place as any to place to throw in a note about a Washington Post hemp brownie recipe (oh, how far the one-time president slayershave fallen) as well as a shoutout to the new Hershey Psychic, which would be a pretty fun job even if it isn’t quite what the title indicates.

Anyway, if inspired by headlines and dreams, and think runaway chocolate proseletyzing could be your thing, you could do a lot worse (financially speaking, at least) than to take at least a few lessons from David Wolfe, author of Naked Chocolate

It’s all almost enough to get one to forget about the importance of taste. Almost …

Giving More Thanks (Next Year) for Chocolate

chocolate turkeysThe problem with Thanksgiving is also its strength: TRADITION. They don’t get started very easily.

So, it’s mostly the same food year after year. Not that this is a necessarily bad thing, but it does leave out enough (in our opinion) chocolate. So, since it is hard to start traditions and you don’t want to throw something into the mix that might just fail, the days after [Chocolate] Turkey Day [Earlier: Not Yet Ready for Chocolate Turkeys] when all ingredients are on hand is perhaps the best time to chocxperiment for next year.

There are savory chocolate sides to consider. There’s award-winning chocolate pecan bourbon pie and bittersweet chocolate tart with orange sauce to taste test and play with as well.

As for adding to what you are already doing, consider putting the filling in some (pretty) foolproof chocolate crust or perhaps pleading “healthy” an adopting a 30-second gluten free chocolate crust from Chocolate Covered Katie, who also a recommends a no-bake chocolate pumpkin pie for its easy-peazy chocopumpkin pie vibe.

Heading further away from the norm, consider the thought process of Denver Juli at PaleOMG, whose idea of a Thanksgiving day nosh is pomegranate/coconut/chocolate/bark

Probably you get the idea by now.

Anyway, as your finishing up cooking for this year (and also while a relative rants or a football game bores), time to start thinking about what to look forward to making next year for family — as a new tradition spark. Other possible sparks: next year you can make chocolate turkeys (you will need a mold, which — and practice — is why you need to start early):

Or you can raise them (although you will need a chick, which — and feed &mdash: is why you need to start early):

Bon Chocoppétit!

Don’t Gorp Without Chocolate

gorpJoyous National Gorp Day! Are you loose or baked?

Perhaps more accurately written as GORP, the informal mix of fruits is acronymaticaly named from “good old raisins (and) peanuts,” or, alternatively and arguably, “granola, oats, raisins, peanuts.” Satisfying (while not perhaps not always as wholesome as the packaging or salesperson promises) and easy to create in one’s own image may make it THE quintessentially American foodstuff — not that we offer it here at CAC, just saying….

Checking the ingredients of a packaged version can lead to the discovery of a corporate manufactured amalgamation of high calorie sugars and processed fruits — which is not a big deal, admittedly, if you happen to climbing Mt. McKinley or riding the Tour of California. It is also an ahistoric food found in closely related forms around the world, with an assumed provenance that traces to 1968 surfers, that doesn’t quite gel with literary references including Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums and even a role as “student oats” (raisins and almonds but with chocolate added at Christmas) in the Danish 1833 novel Dramatiske Scener (dramatic scenes).

GORP, absolutely unrelated to a particular family is also known as

  • Agil in Iran
  • Bwyd Dewey (“beloved food”) in Wales
  • Diákcsemege (“students’ delicacy”) in Hungary
  • Mieszanka studencka (“students’ mix”) in Poland
  • Studentenfutter (“student fodder”) in Germany
  • Studentenhaver (“students oats”) in the Netherlands and Flanders
  • Studenterhavre (“student oats”) in Denmark
  • Študentska hrana (“students’ food”) in Slovenia
  • Studentų maistas (“students’ food”) in Lithuania

Thanks Wikipedia

Personalizing — (re)making it American in your own image — leads to a myriad of choices. Obviously, one should add chocolate to it for all the health- and taste-related reasons one should always add the fruit of the cacao . And if making a pretend version for kids, M&Ms are always appreciated (variations via Offgrid Survival). However, for energy without the post-high fructose sugar high, we recommend adapting to taste a mix of roasted, unsalted nuts, and unsweetened dried fruit with chips of high percentage cacao resembling

CAC Gorp

    • 1 ½ cup roasted, unsalted pistachios (or mixed with cashews, or the traditional peanuts)
    • 1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries
    • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
    • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
    • 1/3 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut (or dried banana chips)
    • 1/3 cup oat cereal

Throw all in a bowl, mix and portion.

(Alternatively, consider the energy bar of The Health Seeker’s Kitchen – also tweeting @HealthSeekerKit.)

Although not a CAC favorite, we aren’t going to argue with those who toss white chocolate in their mix, but while we can consider it as a taste alternative, we’ve not plans to climb the soapbox to proselytize that it is a healthier choice than M&Ms.

Still, Gorp, like life, is always better with little bits of chocolate. …and, again, have a Grand National Gorp Day!

Marrying Chocolate with Pregnancy

no pregnancy - chocolateWhile June is a traditional month for weddings — and not to rush things for people we do and don’t know — thoughts have turned to pregnancy and chocolate as we begin July. Not surprisingly, we’re believers in them being an outstanding pairing. (N.B. If you want to see the really, really happy pairing of a pregnant woman and her chocolate skip to the end of the post.)

Given the situation there should be health concerns regarding the caffeine component in cacao and a need not to overdo sugar intake, but those are concerns for the non-pregnant as well. As for the good news for women uncomfortable and growing for two, there’s research that it may reduce risk from preeclampsia and gestational hypertension, and a vaguish study that eating chocolate during pregnancy makes for happier babies, in addition to other ideas of how chocolate can help with a woman’s general health.

A couple ideas, in case one wants to tempt fate by making eating suggestions to a woman of a certain condition, are a Kids Health pudding specifically recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women (had extra “good and nutritious” calories) and a New Parent oatmeal chocolate chip pancakes recipe (consider adding a mashed one-half banana instead of the recommended sugar). Even What to Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting weighs in with the thoughts on the goodness of chocolate, although recommending frozen chocolate yogurt, for example, over chocolate ice cream.

In any case, the point is happiness during pregnancy. While there is no way boxed chocolates are an answer to healthy, the elation of a pregnant woman (and the health she is encouraging with her dance) who has found her proper chocolates should certainly be embraced.

Skimming Chocolate Headlines

chocolate shreds balls sticksChocolate is good. Wonderful. Marvelous. Sublime, even. But even though cacao has hundreds of years of history, what becomes chocolate isn’t yet perfect every time, partly explaining why it still holds fascination. Everybody who does something new with it may take it (us) one step closer to #cacaonirvana — if there be such a place. So, on an April day when winter and spring struggle for weather domination in a way that seems to be keeping most people at home, we went internet browsing to seek out chocolate news.

Somehow the news seemed to facesmack us in pairs. There was the most genteel of thoughts with the romance of the Vienna Ritz-Carlton’s chocolate sommelier pouring his warm criollo cacao bean brew afternoon to early evening. Oddly, that news mashed-up with the announcement that syrup producer Bosco is expanding its “chocolate” palette by introducing a “mocha,” as its first new flavor in almost 10 years.

Regarding introductions, there were notes about the upcoming London opening of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical [see earlier: Charlie and the Chocolate Novel]

and its sorta real-life corollary with the May opening of Hershey’s Great Chocolate Factory Mystery, a “4-D experience” created with Jim Henson’s Muppet factory workers.

Both of those are aimed at mass audiences, hile those who aspire to an experience a bit more elite will probably be more enthusiastic with the outsized in price and snobppeal, Rabot Estate Marcial 70 per cent dark chocolate bar and its reported notes of shiraz wine, antique oak, roasted cocoa and stewed spiced plums and hyper-marketing of terroir. Perhaps the cacao aficionados who want to take the next step with the bar will be to revel in it on the way to or from an event and stay at the recently opened Chocolate Boutique Hotel in in Bournemouth, a B&B with 13 chocolate-themed rooms?

As for news that might suggest an interesting future for chocolate there is an attempt to patent 3D printing of chocolate suggesting all sorts of patent, copyright and technological squabbling. Putting some oomph into our optimism there was an agreement by megachocohemoth Mondelez (think Kraft/Cadbury) is bowing to Oxfam and other pressurers in promising to try and do right by women working cacao plantations.

Finally, we came upon folks tracking the “holy grail” of all chocolate thinking folk. Researchers think they might be on the trail of all goodness, low- or no-calorie bliss with a fruit-infused chocolate.

Which somehow signals that it’s time to get back to work. Enjoy!