Salted Dark Chocolate with Crushed Pistachio (Dairy Free)
Getting into the Easter spirit I had a lot of fun playing around with this recipe yesterday in preparation to making chocolate with one of my clients this week and exploring the health benefits of cocoa, an ingredient worth exploring because seriously, who doesn't love chocolate and who doesn't want a validated reason to enjoy chocolate as part of a healthy, balanced diet?
To share with you guys in a rather brief examination, cocoa contains many phenolic antioxidants that are beneficial to both cardiovascular and neurological health. Studies have shown that flavanol-rich cocoa concentrated dark chocolate can help to improve blood flow and pressure, reduce inflammation, and increase both blood flow to and circulation within the brain, helping to improve brain function and mental performance. In addition to its euphoric effects and pleasurable, melt in your mouth sensory properties that chocolate is so much loved for, the chromium content and flavanols in dark chocolate can, rather surprisingly, also assist with the management of healthy blood glucose levels and the promotion of insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics. Of course though, this can easily be negated depending on the sugar concentration of the chocolate you're eating, and how much you like to enjoy in one sitting! Furthermore, cocoa is a rich source of minerals including magnesium, a powerful calmative and muscle relaxant, calcium, copper, phosphorus, potassium and zinc that each contribute to our general health and wellbeing.
Cocoa is produced through the fermentation of the seeds from the pods of the cacao tree, Threobroma Cacao. From this point, the seeds are then dried, roasted and crushed to produce a high-fat, unsweetened chocolate and from here, the chocolate is then processed even further into cocoa powder become more alkaline and less bitter in flavour, which is then mixed with cocoa butter and sugar to create chocolate. During this latter process there is unfortunately a significant loss (60%) of the beneficial flavanol content, whereas cacao powder, readily available from health food stores and supermarkets in the health food section, is unheated and therefore retains much more of these beneficial antioxidants. For this reason, cacao powder was used in this recipe in place of cocoa powder, making it quite the nutritious treat!
Salted Dark Chocolate with Crushed Pistachio
1 & 1/4 cup of cacao butter
1/2 cup of cacao powder
1 tsp of vanilla essence
2 tbs of coconut milk powder (I found this in the Asian section of the supermarket)
1 pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes
1/3 cup of raw honey
1/4 cup of pistachios
Fill a small saucepan one third of a way with water, place onto the stove on high heat and bring to boil
Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and place a medium-sized bowl over the top of the saucepan to create a double boiler
Add cacao butter leave to gently melt, which will take a few minutes
This a perfect opportunity to crush up the pistachios. Simply lay out a long piece of baking paper, lay out the pistachios down one end, fold over the baking paper, and whack multiple times with a rolling pin, or you can use a wooden spoon, to crush into smaller pieces
Once melted add cacao powder, coconut milk powder and honey and stir well with a spoon
Turn off heat and remove bowl from the saucepan
Add and stir in vanilla syrup
At this point you may want to gently use a spoon to pour the chocolate into chocolate moulds, making sure you give the mix a good stir beforehand to prevent the honey from pooling in the middle otherwise you have some chocolate pieces delightfully sweet while others will be offensively bitter!
If you want to include the pistachios, line a baking dish with baking paper and pour in the chocolate
Sprinkle pistachios and sea salt flakes over the chocolate, and give a good stir before placing the dish into the fridge
Allow to refrigerate for 1-2 hours
Remove from baking dish and using a knife over a chopping board, slice evenly into small pieces
Pop back into a container and keep stored in the fridge (otherwise they will melt!)
Enjoy and Happy Easter!!