They say you never forget your first love. I suppose that’s why my ratio of chocolate to” everything else” recipes is so off balance! In addition to being heart-healthy, eating chocolate also comes with a variety of other sweet benefits! Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have concluded that, in addition to being significantly more filling and satisfying than its lighter-colored varieties, dark chocolate also decreases a person’s cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods, making it a surprisingly helpful addition to your diet if you are trying to shed a few pounds.
Studies have also indicated that mothers who consume chocolate during their pregnancy were better able to deal with stress. What’s more, a separate study from Finland also found that children carried by mothers that ate chocolate throughout their pregnancy were also more happy (duh, it’s chocolate!). That’s right. Their babies were happier and smiled more.
This next benefit seems more like an oxymoron, but apparently a small Italian study has found that its participants, all of whom agreed to consume one dark chocolate candy bar a day for a total of 15 days, saw their potential insulin resistance drop by nearly half. Lead researcher Claudio Ferri, M.D. says that this happens because the flavanols increase nitric oxide production, which, in turn, help keep insulin sensitivity under control.
This next one probably won’t comes as much of a surprise to most of you, but your little stress-induced chocolate binges are actually good for you (tell that to my fat pants!). Scientists in Switzerland observed significantly reduced stress-related hormone levels, in addition to moderately diminished relative metabolic effects, in anxious people that ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks. Oh, Switzerland!
The flavanols found in chocolate have also been known to help protect our skin from the sun. Researchers in London say that after three months of consuming chocolate rich in flavanols, their study subjects’ skin took twice as long to develop the early warning signs of an imminent burn. Sadly, this benefit can’t be garners by eating all-to-typical low-flavanol chocolates. You can usually differentiate between the two by keeping your eyes peeled for brands that state their product has high levels of healthy compounds in them.
And just when you thought chocolate couldn’t get any better, a new study suggests that a natural compound found in cocoa can reverse age-related memory loss. The findings suggest that the flavanols increase connectivity and, as a result, blood flow in a particular region of the brain that is critical to its memory function. Complimenting these findings, a University of Nottingham researcher also found that drinking cocoa rich in flavanols boosts blood flow to some of the most crucial parts of our brains for up to 2-3 hours, which subsequently could improve performance and alertness on a short term basis.
Surprisingly, a professor of respiratory medicine and pharmacology at the National Heart and Lung Institute in London found that chocolate actually quieted coughs almost as well as codeine. The chemical theobromine, which is responsible for chocolate’s “feel-good” effect, may also suppress activity in a part of the brain called the vagus nerve. All the benefits of codeine and none of the nasty side effects (not to mention that horrid taste!), I’ll take it!
I’ve never been much for discussing the finer points of the bathroom, especially while I am discussing food items lol, but both South American and European cultures have actually used cocoa medicinally to treat diarrhea. Scientists at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that the flavanols in cocoa bind with a protein in our bodies that regulates fluid secretion in the small intestines, possibly lessening the severity of the patient’s symptoms.
Sex and chocolate have always seemed like an ideal pairing, right? Well, science tells us there is actually a reason for that! The consumption of chocolate has been shown to lead to higher levels of lust, excitability and arousal, and overall sexual satisfaction, according to researchers at an Italian university. Women who consumed at least one cube of chocolate a day experienced more active libidos and better sexual function as a whole than those who didn’t partake (who doesn’t love chocolate!?). Phenylethylamine, a compound found in chocolate, releases the same mood-altering endorphins that flood a person’s body during sex and intensify feelings of attraction between two people.
In case you didn’t know and were wondering, a verrine is a small thick-glass container with no base, which is used to hold a solid or liquid dish (in this case a dessert), rather than a drink. By way of metonymy, a “verinne” is a dish served IN a verrine, in a vertical manner, which allows a different aesthetic and gustatory experience from a dish served on traditional plates.
Philippe Conticini was the first to conceptualize a dessert served in a verrine. In 1994, he introduced more than just a simple evolution of its form by debuting what would go on to be described as a notable evolution in taste experience.
It’s verticality and transparency allows the verrine to be immediately read by sight, allowing the diner to construct a taste profile on the dish they are about to enjoy. The completion of the gustatory balance in the mouth rather than in the verrine also allows for the strengthening and betterment of sensations, specifically those of intensity and finish, which is controlled by the diners.
According to the original concept, verrines are composed of three superimposed layers, each conveying specific characteristics in terms of taste:
- The lower, thin layer is made of acidulous preparations to trigger salivation and prepare the taste buds to receive other tastes;
- The intermediate, thicker layer consists of a preparation bringing the main taste structure ;
- And the upper layer consists of a third, smooth and silky preparation aimed at coating the taste buds and providing a full-bodied, pleasant finish.
The French word verinne is usually left untranslated in English.
Milk, Dark and White Chocolate Verrines
Alright, now that I have delivered my spiel in promotion of chocolate and all of it’s wonders, here is a irresistible recipe that incorporates white, milk, and dark chocolate into it. Talk about hitting the trifecta!
Decadent, delicious, and oh so sweet! It’s always difficult for me to serve this creamy dessert to any of my guests when I host gatherings of any kind. I find myself always torn between serving it or listening to that little voice in the back of my head that tells me to hoard it all to myself! lol. Try it for yourself and you’ll understand why!
For the dark chocolate layer
- 75 g. (2 3/4 oz.) dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp. golden caster sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
For the milk chocolate layer
- 75 g. (2 3/4 oz.) milk chocolate, roughly chopped
- ½ Tbsp. golden caster sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
For the white chocolate layer
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. golden caster sugar
- 1 tsp. cold water
- 5 1/2 oz. (150 g.) white chocolate, roughly chopped
- 9 oz. (250 ml.) heavy whipping cream
- Start with the dark chocolate layer. Melt the chocolate and sugar together in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolks.
- In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks, then fold into the chocolate mixture.
- Divide the mixture evenly between glasses or shot glasses. Leave to set in the fridge.
- Next, make the milk chocolate layer as above. Carefully pour it over the set layer in the glasses and return to the fridge.
- For the white chocolate layer, mix the egg yolks, sugar and water in a heatproof bowl.
- Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and creamy.
- Melt the white chocolate in separate heatproof bowl over the simmering water, then cool.
- Lightly whip the cream to soft peaks. Stir the chocolate into the egg mixture, then fold in the whipped cream.
- Carefully pour the mixture over the set layers in the glasses and chill for at least 6 hours until set.
- Serve decorated with grated chocolate.