Newsflash: chocolate is good for you

Good news for Easter lovers planning to shove lots of chocolate down their necks this weekend, research has long suggested that it can actually be good for you. But before you go ahead and gobble up an entire Mars Bar, read on…

Ever since Green & Blacks launched its fancy, expensive slabs of high quality, high cocoa chocolate (packaged in highly-designed boxes), chocolate has taken on a different personality. Yes, we still love – and will always love – our Cream Eggs, Yorkie Bars and Curly Wurly’s (which are back on the shelves, have you noticed?), but demand for Green & Blacks’ bars, and now hundreds of equivalents, is rising without any sign of slowing down. Why? Because it’s better for you.

Chocolate pieces with cocoa beans and cocoa powder on wooden background

Made using ethically sourced, authentic beans from South America or the Caribbean, the next generation of ‘fine’ chocolate is organic, high in cocoa (the richer the taste, the less you are likely to eat) and, in a lot of cases, raw (the beans are left to dry naturally rather than being roasted thus preserving nutrients).

Growing yellow cocoa pods on the tree

Growing yellow cocoa pods on the tree

As well as being high in iron, zinc, vitamin C and magnesium, dark chocolate of at least 70% cocoa has a low glycaemic index, is high in stearic acid and antioxidants, stimulates endorphins and contains flavanols. Er, what? Well quite, but rather than bore you with the science, just read – and delight in – the good news (Happy Easter!).

– Lowers risk of strokes and heart attacks
– Maintains blood pressure
– Increases brain activity
– Increases libido
– Contains anti-ageing properties

Wow, pretty great huh? So, if you crave chocolate, go ahead and indulge – just make sure it’s the good stuff.

Three fine chocolate companies in Norfolk:

Gnaw:
The ingredients for Gnaw’s range of slabs, hot chocolate sticks and truffles may be taken very seriously, being ethically sourced and natural, but the brand is cute and playful. Even the strapline is pretty cute: Handcrafted in Gnawfolk. What’s not to love?
gnawchocolate.co.uk

gnaw 3

Booja Booja:
Gluten-free, dairy-free, multi award-winning… Booja Booja couldn’t be more on trend with its sourcing, production or branding. Check out it’s beautiful range of Easter eggs (mum: put down that Buttons egg and click on the link below, please).
boojabooja.com

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Le Club de Cacao:

Launched in 2012 by Madame Deroubaix (not her real name), Le Club de Cacao is a chocolate tasting club designed to increase the nation’s awareness – and love – of fine chocolate.
leclubdecacao.co.uk

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Recipe:
Easter truffles

easter_simnel_truffles_05358_16x9


Preparation time: 1-2 hours; cooking time: less than 10 mins. Makes approximately 30 truffles

Ingredients:
For the ganache

  • 200ml/7fl oz full-fat milk or double cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
  • half a nutmeg, grated
  • 75g/2¾oz muscovado sugar
  • 300g/10½oz dark chocolate (preferably with 70% or more cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 5 tsp brandy
  • 100g/3½oz marzipan

For the coating:

  • 100g/3½oz cocoa powder
  • 100g/3½oz icing sugar
  • 25g/1oz ground cinnamon
  • 10g/¼oz ground nutmeg
  • 400g/14oz dark chocolate, melted and tempered

 Method:

  1. For the ganache, put the milk or cream, spices and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Remove the spiced milk from the heat and strain through a fine sieve onto the chopped chocolate. Whisk until smooth, then add the brandy and whisk again. Pour into a plastic container and refrigerate for an hour, or until set.
  2. Roll the marzipan into small balls the size of a hazelnut. Coat the marzipan balls in the set ganache and place on a tray.
  3. For the coating, place the cocoa powder, icing sugar, cinnamon and ground nutmeg into a bowl.
  4. Melt and temper the dark chocolate by breaking the chocolate into small, even pieces and gently melting it in a bowl over a saucepan of hot, not boiling, water. Place a cook’s thermometer into the chocolate and continue to heat until it reaches 43C/110F. Remove from the heat and cool to 35C/95F. Now it is ready to use.
  5. Using your fingers, dip each truffle in the melted, tempered chocolate and drop into the cocoa powder mixture, rolling until the truffle is completely coated. Set aside to cool on a plate.
  6. Eat the truffles at room temperature, so they are very soft inside.

bbc.co.uk/food

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Norfolk