Health How-To Lifestyles Recipes

Valentine’s treats for you and your sweet

It’s February…so that means it’s time to break out the chocolate and a conversation about hearts. While it’s typical to go to the store and buy Valentine’s Day inspired items, sometimes a homemade dessert is much better. This year, add dark chocolate in desserts. Loaded with minerals and soluble fiber, it will help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels, elements that benefit one’s long-term health.

Dark chocolate is full of organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants, much like certain teas. Dark chocolate also helps improve circulation, which is especially helpful on a heart-filled holiday. The cocoa butter found in dark chocolate contains oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat, which lowers blood pressure. Eating a piece of dark chocolate a day can be beneficial, so reward you and your significant other, guilt-free, with these healthy, dark chocolate desserts.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or warm, melted dark chocolate

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

3 tablespoons honey

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

8 teaspoons creamy peanut butter

 

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder/dark chocolate, applesauce, honey and vanilla until smooth. Chill for at least 1 hour (or up to 18 hours maximum).
  2. Line a large plate with wax paper.
  3. Divide the chocolate mixture into 16 equal parts. One at a time, flatten each piece into a circular shape in the palm of your hand. Place ½ teaspoon of peanut butter in the center. Fold up the edges, pinch shut and roll into a ball between your palms. Place onto the wax paper.
  4. Repeat with the remaining chocolate mixture and peanut butter.
  5. Store in the refrigerator, and, if saving longer than 24 hours, store in an airtight container to prevent the truffles from drying out.

Dark Chocolate-Chunk Brownies

Ingredients:

10-ounce dark chocolate bar

½ cup (1/4 pound) butter, cut into ½-inch chunks

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup all-purpose flour

 

Directions:

  1. Chop butter into ½-inch chunks; you should have about 2 cups. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, combine half the chocolate and the butter. Heat in a microwave oven on half-power until chocolate is soft and butter is melted, 1 to 1½ minutes. Stir until mixture is smooth. Let stand until warm.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth. Add chocolate mixture and stir until well blended. Add flour a ¼ cup at a time, stirring in between. Add remaining chocolate and mix until chunks are evenly distributed.
  3. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking parchment or spray. Scrape batter into pan, spread evenly.
  4. Bake at 325° F for 20 to 25 minutes, until surface develops a thin crust. Pressing gently in the center, your fingertip should leave a soft impression. Take care not to overbake.
  5. Cool completely, at least 1 hour. Lift brownie out on parchment, or leave in pan, and cut to serve.