Vegan Food Focus: Dark Chocolate

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You may think that the famous bean has run its course in the health news, but scientists in Europe are just warming up.  As they diligently work to justify our cocoa-rich habits, we are happily sitting back with our rich dark chocolate bars, smiling from ear to ear.  The latest study touts dark chocolate as a powerful combatant against high blood pressure.  In fact, it even beat out tea in effectiveness.  Of course what would a news blurb like this be without a good story and some (vegan) chocolate recipes

The following excerpt and recipes were provided by Jackie of The Vegan Diet blog:

You might not believe it but dark, dairy-free, chocolate is good for you. The higher cocoa content it contains the healthier it is. The one downfall, due to it's high fat content, it should be eaten in moderation.

The cocoa bean contains almost 50% fat, both saturated and mono unsaturated fat. It also has a high carbohydrate content, but most of it is starch, soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, with a small amount of simple sugars. Read the label to make sure there is little or no sugar added during manufacture and that it is dairy-free.

Nutritionally the cocoa bean contains vitamins B1, 2 and 3, plus vitamins A, C and E. It also contains the minerals magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, zinc and copper.

Health wise the cocoa bean is high in antioxidants and flavornoids which are good for the heart and blood circulation. It also contains theobromine which is a mild stimulant, phenylethylamine and serotonin which act as mild antidepressants. That is why people find their spirits are lifted after eating chocolate, therefore adding to it's enjoyment.

Note that theobromine is toxic to birds and animals so never give them chocolate.

So enjoy a couple of chocolates every day but don't go wild and eat the whole box!!

Here are a couple of great chocolate recipes from the Vegetarian Times:

Chocolate Rum Cake
Serves 12
This superb cake offers rich, chocolaty flavor in every bite, but with surprisingly little fat and few calories. To melt chocolate, place it in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. When it’s halfway melted, remove the top of the pan from the heat and stir until smooth.

1 cup puréed firm silken tofu
1 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
1/4 cup ice-cold water
2 Tbs. dark rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Chocolate curls for garnish, optional

Rum Syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup, honey or barley malt syrup
1/4 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
3 Tbs. dark rum

Chocolate Rum Frosting
10.5 oz. extra-firm silken tofu
2 Tbs. dark rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. semisweet vegan chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour, shaking out excess. In large bowl, whisk together tofu, maple syrup, espresso, water, rum and vanilla until smooth. In another large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to tofu mixture and mix until smooth. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until cakes are springy to the touch, about 15 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks to cool completely. Make rum syrup: In small saucepan, stir together all ingredients. Heat over low heat 3 minutes. Using pastry brush, spread warm syrup over top of cakes.

Make frosting: In blender or food processor, combine all ingredients until smooth. Place 1 cake layer on serving plate. Spread with half the frosting. Top with second layer. Spread top and sides with remaining frosting. Garnish with chocolate curls if desired. (262 calories per serving)

Decadent Dairy-Free Chocolate Truffles
Serves 10 (makes about 30 truffles)
Truffles are usually made with heavy cream, but you’ll never miss the dairy in these luscious vegan chocolates.

6 oz. high-quality dark chocolate (60% cocoa), finely chopped
1/4 cup walnut, almond or canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Place chocolate, oil and 1/3 cup water in microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high in microwave 1 minute. Stir; heat 1 minute more, or until chocolate has melted. Whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 6 hours, or overnight. Place cocoa and nuts on separate plates. Shape truffle mixture by heaping teaspoonfuls into small, 3/4-inch balls. Roll in cocoa or chopped nuts. Chill until ready to serve. (66 calories per truffle)

For more great dairy-free chocolate recipes, visit the dessert section of our recipes.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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