Ah, Valentine’s Day. A day when chocoholics everywhere (single or not) can rejoice. Love may be in the air, but it is chocolate that is on the shelves! As a self-diagnosed chocoholic, I can admit that February 14th is an exciting time for me–because it gives me the excuse to make a new chocolate creation! After all, chocolate isn’t so bad, is it?
Not at all! Chocolate actually possesses some great health properties. The Incas considered cocoa to be a drink of the gods, and the Aztec Emperor Montezuma, who supposedly drank up to fifty cups of chocolate a day, described it as a “divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue.” Actually, Emperor Montezuma was on the right track–maybe not with the fifty cups a day, but certainly with the health-promoting qualities.
Chocolate comes from cacao, a plant that is naturally high in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. In research trials, cacao flavonoids have been found to decrease blood pressure, prevent unwanted blood clots, and promote blood flow to the heart and brain (an effect which might be responsible for the fatigue-fighting Montezuma was talking about!). Additionally, as antioxidants, flavonoids help prevent the cell damage that can lead to cancer. Sounds like a good food choice to me! But be careful, not all forms of chocolate are equal. Dark chocolate, which contains the highest amount of cacao, has the greatest amount of flavonoids and antioxidant activity. You can find dark chocolate that contains anywhere from 30% to 100% cacao. The higher the percentage, the greater the health benefits. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, has anywhere between 10 to 30% cacao, and white chocolate has none (sorry, white chocolate fans!). So if you’re choosing a dark chocolate (preferably 60% cacao or higher), you are getting some great health benefits in that treat.
In my family, some go so far as to refer to “chocolate” as “Vitamin C.” Now, I’m not sure if I would advertise that health title, but there are definitely some reasons to cheer for the healthiness of dark chocolate!
So with that nutrition lesson in mind, on to the recipe! Truffles are a classic Valentine’s Day gift because they are both extremely elegant and sinfully decadent. And both of those qualities can be found in these Dark Chocolate Balsamic Truffles. Although the ingredients are few and the preparation simple, the taste of these truffles is great. Now, a word of note: few ingredients means that you must choose each ingredient very carefully. If you honestly do not like dark, dark chocolate, choose a chocolate with a lower cacao percentage. Since there is no sugar in this recipe, the sweetness you taste in the chocolate bar is going to be the sweetness of the truffle. So select a high-quality chocolate that you would be happy to eat straight from the package!
Oh, and these beauties are also 100% vegan! Heavy cream is the traditional ingredient used in chocolate truffles, but this recipe features coconut milk instead. Because the chocolate flavor is so powerful, you will not get a prominent coconut flavor in the final product. What you will get is a slight tang from the balsamic vinegar, which lends a great complexity to the chocolaty richness. If this hasn’t converted you to Club Chocoholics, I don’t know what will!
Interested in more chocolate health information? Check out all the health benefits here.
♥ Have a heart-healthy holiday! ♥
Dark Chocolate Balsamic Truffles
Yield: 12 truffles
8 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Desired coating (e.g. cocoa powder, chopped almonds, shredded coconut)
Place chopped dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
In a small saucepan, heat coconut milk over medium-high heat until it just begins to boil (bubbles should be forming around the edge). Pour heated coconut milk over chopped chocolate and let mixture sit 1 minute so chocolate can soften. After 1 minute, vigorously whisk mixture until chocolate is smooth and glossy.
Whisk in balsamic vinegar and vanilla extract. Refrigerate mixture for 1 hour, or until chocolate is firm but moldable.
Using a teaspoon, scoop out cooled chocolate and roll into uniform balls between your fingertips. Roll truffles in cocoa powder, chopped almonds, shredded coconut, or other desired coating. Serve immediately or return to refrigerator for safe keeping.
Refrigerated truffles will keep up to 2 weeks.