Get the answers to all your chocolate questions!
By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople
Since yesterday was Valentine's Day, one of the most popular days for giving, receiving and eating chocolate, chances are good that you have plenty of it within reach.
I firmly believe that chocolate has a place in a healthy diet--it sure does in mine! It can even be a part of savory dishes. I try to be choosy about chocolate: I reach for dark over milk, splurge on from-scratch baked goods, and keep my portions in check.
In addition to sharing an amazingly easy and better-for-you recipe for chocolate mousse, I'm here to answer some of your questions about chocolate. We'll get to the questions later. First, let's eat!
Chef Meg's 150-Calorie Chocolate Mousse
When I want chocolate mousse, only the real deal will do. This version is low in fat, but it's still creamy and rich. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool!
CALORIES: 145.8 | FAT: 3g | PROTEIN: 7.5g | CARBS: 27.4g | FIBER: 2.9g
Minutes to Prepare: 35
Minutes to Cook: 10
Number of Servings: 6
Chocolate mousse can have 380 calories and 14 grams of fat. This version has less than half the calories and a third the fat!
Before whipping your egg whites, sprinkle a bit of white vinegar on a clean, damp cloth, and wipe out your bowl. This will remove any oily residue, which will prevent the egg whites from whipping properly.
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup liquid egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
diced strawberries, raspberries, segmented oranges or sliced bananas for garnish (nutrition info not included)
Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 10-second intervals at medium power until the chips are halfway melted, stirring each time you pause the microwave. The residual heat will melt the chocolate completely. (If you microwave the chocolate until all the chips have melted, the residual heat could cause it to burn.)
Combine the yogurt, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract in a large glass bowl. Microwave for one minute, stirring halfway through. Remove and stir in the melted chocolate.
Add the sugar and two tablespoons of water to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat to high and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl. Using a mixer, whip until soft peaks form.
With the mixer running, add the sugar water to the egg whites in a slow and steady stream. Continue to beat until mixture is cool and stiffer peaks form.
To avoid ending up with scrambled egg whites, you'll need to temper them: Add one large tablespoon of egg mixture to chocolate yogurt mixture, and stir to combine. Fold in the remaining egg mixture using light strokes so as not deflate the egg whites. Loosely cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Divide the fruit (optional) among six wine glasses, then top with 1/2 cup of mousse.
Serving Size: Makes 6 1/2-cup servings
Now, onto those questions…
Where should I store chocolate?
You should store chocolate in a cool, dry place away from foods with strong odors. The ideal temperature for storing chocolate is 60-65 degrees F.
Will my chocolate last forever in my pantry?
It can last for quite a while and not make you sick, but the quality will not be at its best. Generally will keep for six months in proper storage.
I just opened up a block of chocolate and there are white spots on the surface. Yuck! Is this mold?
What you see is called a fat bloom. The cocoa butter has melted out and moved to the surface of the chocolate. This usually happens when the chocolate was exposed to bright light or too high of a temperature.
My recipe tells me to melt the chocolate over a double boiler. What in the heck is that?
Your recipe might also tell you to use a water bath or bain Marie. All are the same. To set up a double boiler, fill a medium-size saucepan with 2 inches of water, place over moderate heat. Place chopped chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and set the bowl over the water that is at a gentle simmer. Make sure the water is not so hot that it is creating steam and that the bowl is larger than the circumference of the saucepan. If water comes into contact with the chocolate, it will seize or become grainy. Gently stir the chocolate as it melts. Remove the chocolate from heat when it is 3/4 melted; carryover cooking will continue to melt the chocolate. Remove saucepan from the heat but leave the bowl on top.
My chocolate is melted, but it is way too thick. How should I thin it out? Should I add water?
Water will make your chocolate grainy and clumpy. The best bet is to gradually whisk soybean oil until you have the desired constancy.
A Healthier Sweet Treat: Choco-Almond Butter
54 Sweet and Healthier Valentine's Day Treats
Chef Meg's Decadent Desserts Video
Do you have any more questions about chocolate? What's your favorite chocolate treat?
SparkPeople Healthy Cooking Expert Meg Galvin is a World Master Chef, culinary instructor, and the author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A farmer's daughter and marathon runner, she lives in northern Kentucky with her husband and three teenage sons.