With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, many of us are racking our brains for the perfect dessert idea for that special someone. Unfortunately, most desserts are packed with white flour and sugar, and a sugar crash an hour after dessert may not be the best way to say, ‘I love you.’
If you wish to create a delicious, visually stunning dessert this year, one that is also healthy to boot, go for a dark chocolate fondue. Sitting around a pot of warm, melted chocolate surrounded by antioxidant-rich berries and fruits can transform a simple dessert course into a truly special evening.
You may be thinking to yourself – wait, isn’t chocolate just as bad as a sugary piece of cake? Not in its raw, natural state. What makes most conventional chocolate varieties unhealthy is the loads of sugar added to the mix, and the high-heat, chemical processing used in its manufacturing. As we discussed in further detail in a previous article, organic, raw dark chocolate actually has a wealth of health benefits.
Unprocessed cacao is a good source of protein, fiber, several B-vitamins and vitamin E. It also contains minerals including calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, sulfur and zinc, and is filled with flavonoid antioxidants. Flavonoids have been found to support a healthy heart, and have anti-inflammatory properties, making them key players in chronic disease prevention.
Raw dark chocolate also contains oleic acid, an important and beneficial monounsaturated fat that is also found in coconut and olive oils, as well as saturated fat – but don’t let that scare you.
Mounting research has found that the notion of saturated fats being unhealthy is a widely accepted and dangerous myth; in moderation, they are essential for the body’s proper functioning, and can even support weight loss.
Now that you know why REAL chocolate is nothing to fear, you are ready to get started.
Creating a simple and delicious dark chocolate fondue
Note: For best results, prepare the chocolate immediately before serving.
- 8 ounces pastured heavy (organic milk) cream
- 12 ounces organic, raw, dark chocolate chips or nibs
- Approximately 1 cup organic coconut crystals, to taste
- A pinch of finely-ground sea salt
- ½ to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, if desired
- In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream until it is very lightly boiling (lower heat if it starts to boil too fast).
- Gradually add chocolate and whisk into the cream until it is blended.
- Whisk in coconut crystals gradually, tasting as you go, until chocolate is sweetened to your taste. Add a pinch of sea salt, and cayenne pepper, if you want a little extra kick to your fondue.
- Turn heat to the lowest setting. You may choose to use your fondue straight from the pot; just move it to the table right before serving, or pour into a fondue pot over a low flame.
What to serve with your chocolate
Cut any fruits you (and your loved one) like into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a platter, or on a plate surrounding a fondue pot. Fresh berries are an especially Valentine’s-appropriate idea, which don’t even require cutting. While all fruits have their specific nutritional benefits, berries offer the special benefit of anthocyanins, the compounds responsible for their red, blue and purple colors.
Anthocyanins are antioxidants that have been linked to anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and anti-cancer properties. They have also been found to improve cognitive functions, and protect all cells throughout the body from oxidative stress damage. Chokeberries contain the highest levels of anthocyanins, followed by black and red raspberries. However, all berries with bright red, blue or purple hues contain them.
Whatever fruits and berries you choose, be sure to choose organic, unless you want a potential side course of pesticides with your fondue. Dip your fruit pieces and berries into the chocolate with bamboo skewers, or cocktail forks, and enjoy! If the chocolate becomes a bit too thick, stir in a tablespoon or so more cream to prolong the experience.
If you surprise your Valentine with this special dessert experience, you will be sure to give him or her something to smile about all evening.
-The Alternative Daily