Eat More Chocolate

Give yourself a break and have some chocolate. Many studies have shown that there is antioxidants in the cocoa bean that are known to help lower blood pressure and keep arteries clean. Here are a few helpful hints:

1. Choose dark chocolate. The darker chocolates are less processed and contain more disease fighting flavanols than chocolate that is processed. In general the higher the percent of cocoa the better. Look at the ingredient list before purchasing because some manufacturers list sugar as the first ingredient. The better chocolate will list cocoa first.

2. Always check for sugar content. If sugar is down the list at number three or more, than it is a good bet this is a dark chocolate. The chocolates to search for usually have cocoa as number one and a fruit or nut as number two.

3. Practice portion control. It is hard when everything on the shelf is actually more than one serving. To reap the benefits associated with chocolate limit yourself to 1-2 ounces or roughly 150-250 calories per day.

The list of choices is enormous. Some of the best dark chocolates come from Europe, though some US producers are getting into the game. Alter Eco, Chocolove, Dagoba, Lindt and Endangered Species are all in the growing trend of treats. You can find these brands in just about any grocery store and even at some convenience stores around the nation.

Fruit fondues, trail mix, chocolate smoothies. So many choices, so little time. The next time you have a craving reach for the dark chocolate. It is satisfying and delicious.

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Happy New Year!

With the new year just starting what will you do this year? Are you planning any trips? If you have tried all of the chocolates in your town and still want more, there are many chocolate houses and factories across the United States to get your fill. Here are a few suggestions to get the planning started:

Payard in New York is owned by Francois Payard, a James Beard “Best Pastry Chef” award winner. Located at 1293 3rd Ave in New York City, this bistro boasts fabulous chocolate desserts and many other treats. In 2013, their dark chocolate, key lime and slated caramel chocolates won awards at the International Chocolate ceremony.      vanillarumtruffle

While in New York, you may want to stop by the Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop at 350 Hudson Street. Delve into the delicious chocolate of one of the world’s most renowned chocolate chefs. All of the chocolates are made rich and thick and bursting with flavor. jacquestorreschocolate

It may not be a household name, but Scharffen Berger Chocolates in Berkley, California is a great place to watch how chocolate is made. A small production facility allows you to watch the process from start to finish. Started in 1997 by Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger, their chocolates are used by many top chefs. Truly distinctive chocolates with balance and complexity—not unlike those found in exceptional wines.

Finally, while in the San Francisco area, take a jaunt to the Embarcadero and sample some Recchiuti Confections. Such exquisite delights include a burnt caramel or a candied orange peel. Michael Recchiuti has been making delectable confections for over 25 years and uses everything from fruit to nuts!burgundybox

As 2014 rolls along, remember to stop and sample the chocolates along the way!

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Create A Dessert Table

Have you ever gone to a gathering and the same old tables of food were presented to the guests? Well, with the holiday season just around the corner, take the plunge and create a dessert table! You can even have your guests bring their favorite mini-dessert to share. Remember that presentation is the key to a memorable event. Some ideas for the table are as follows:

Chocolate Cake! Make one type of chocolate cake or buy several little cakes to feature on your dessert table. Add chopped strawberries or raspberries, slivered almonds, shaved white chocolate, caramel drizzle, candy bar chunks or peanut butter cups. Your guests might also enjoy chocolate cheesecake with similar toppings. Decorate the table with accessories to match the theme of your party. Red rose petals scattered around the desserts creates a more elegant or romantic appeal that works well for formal parties, receptions or anniversaries.

Cookies! Adorn silver serving trays with all sorts of mini chocolate cookies. Make double chocolate chip cookies with additional chunks of dark chocolate or white chocolate. Use almonds or other nuts as a garnish. Serve peanut butter cookies with large chocolate kisses in the middle or make chewy chocolate cookies with powdered sugar on top.

Brownies! No chocolate dessert table would be complete without a few brownies for guests to enjoy. Choose one main type of brownie then top with whipped cream, strawberries, caramel or white chocolate chips. Turtle brownies are fun because they have nuts and caramel added, which gives this dessert a much sweeter flavor than traditional plain brownies. Use slivered almonds, walnuts or shaved chocolate on top of brownies.
Just a few ideas to get you started. Use your imagination and if you need any help just call!
4luxurysweets@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com
petitdesserttableSmores-in-Jar

Can Chocolate Be That Good?

Healthy chocolate sounds like a dream come true, but is it really that healthy for you? Chocolate’s reputation is on the rise, as a growing number of studies suggest that it can be a heart-healthy choice.

 

Chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, appear to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols, found more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate or white chocolate, also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function. Believe it or not, some research has linked chocolate consumption to reduced risks of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. Remember, everything in moderation.

 

Most commercial chocolate has ingredients that add fat, sugar and calories. Too much can contribute to weight gain, a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Choose dark chocolate with cocoa content of 65 percent or higher. Look at brands that are made from European companies, such as Lindt, where chocolate is the main ingredient. Limit yourself to around 3 ounces (85 grams) a day. However, this amount may add up to 450 calories to your daily intake so you may want to cut calories in other areas or step up the exercise to compensate.

Curbing those sweet cravings with a dose of good chocolate can actually help. Read the ingredient list before purchasing and then sit back and enjoy!

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Take A Tour

Chocolate, like fashion and wine has become the latest cultural phenomenon. There is basic chocolate for the masses, artisan chocolate for purists and avant-garde creations for connoisseurs. In Brussels you get it all.

The capital of Belgium is also considered the World Capital of Chocolate. Chocolatier Jean Neuhaus invented the praline 100 years ago while living in Brussels. Just an FYI moment: there are approximately one million residents and about 500 chocolatiers, which averages about one chocolatier for every 2,000 people!

The chocolate industry is changing. With countries such as Germany and the Netherlands becoming larger European exporters, Belgium has created a class of chocolatiers that is finding innovative ways to hold on to the country’s chocolate crown. They are breaking away from traditional pralines and infusing ganaches with exotic flavors like wasabi or lemon verbena, and creating such imaginative pairings as blackcurrant, cardamom, raspberry and clove.

Lindt, a product from Belgium, has a collection of Excellence bars that is sure to get your mouth watering. The set of bars includes Sea Salt, Intense Orange, Intense Mint, Chili, and Black Current.  excellence

Milka is a traditional brand of chocolate confection created by the Swiss chocolatier Philipe Suchard in 1901. The name is derived from combining Milch and Kakao, which are the German terms for milk and cocoa, chocolate’s primary ingredients. A European made milk chocolate has a much more intense flavor than one made in America. Chocolate cherry is one of their more popular combinations.Milka

Kinder Chocolate is a confectionery product of Italian confectionery Ferrero SPa, the makers of Ferrero Rocha. “Kinder” is the German word for “children” as well as the old-fashioned word for children in Dutch. Kinder was created 60 years ago as a mother’s solution to satisfy childrens’ desires for something tasty and sweet. Their blends include hazelnut and sponge cake.

There is so much experimentation in the chocolate industry that you just do not know where to begin. Having to choose between bacon, lavender and green tea can be overwhelming. The best place to start is at the beginning, In Brussels, where it all began.

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Become A Convert

Most people have an aversion to dark chocolate. Personally, I prefer the dark chocolate over milk chocolate on any given day. In doing some research there are a few reasons you should convert to dark chocolate. It can be quite scientific, but it may help change your mind:

Dark chocolate contains higher amounts of a phytochemical called flavonols. Flavonol is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in various types of plants, in particularly, the cocoa plant.  The two most prominent flavonols are called catechins (a type of natural phenol and antioxidant) and epicatechins (a nutrient in cocoa).  A 2008 study with 5000 people who ate 2 squares of dark chocolate per day had a lower C-reactive protein, used mainly as a marker of inflammation.  In addition, flavonols can actually relax your blood vessels, which lower blood pressure and, in turn, lower your risk of a heart attack.

Dark chocolate has much less sugar than milk and contains more cocoa butter, which comes naturally from the cacao bean, and is mostly monounsaturated (healthy) fat.  The higher the percent of cacao the better. Eating 2 squares of dark chocolate will raise your blood sugar less than a potato or a slice of bread! This is a treat the body can easily accommodate.

Transitioning to dark chocolate can take time, especially since you are used to the “sweet” threshold.  Each dark chocolate bar has a different taste and feel, much like coffee, so experiment with different brands and bars, especially those made in Europe.

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Sweet & Savory Chocolate

Have you ever thought to mix your decadent sweet chocolate with a savory dish? Now that summer has arrived what better way to celebrate than dinner on the grill? Why not experience a new side of chocolate with friends? Host a Sweet and Savory Chocolate Party to discover new recipes using Lindt chocolate.

We will create a delicious Chocolate Grilling Sauce to complement grilled entrees, and Chocolate Vinaigrette to dress up a salad. I would also be happy to present your Guests with a beer and chocolate pairing – they will enjoy learning about many full-bodied flavor combinations.And the best part is that, in addition to the existing Host Rewards program, when you host a Party this month with sales of at least $450, you will receive a FREE gift bag filled with approximately 100 of the newly launched EXCELLENCE diamond pieces. Four flavors in each bag!

I am currently booking parties for June; please contact me soon as my calendar is booking fast. I can book parties in all 50 states!

This month, Guests at your party will be able to purchase a collection of 8 EXCELLENCE chocolate bars for $10 with each $40 they spend. That’s a savings of $13!

In addition to earning free chocolate as a Host, you will enjoy:
•    A light-hearted evening filled with laughter and good company
•    An opportunity to sample the newest recipes from Lindt Chocolate
•    Learning how to enjoy premium chocolate in a whole new way

And here is just an example of the Host Rewards you could receive as a Host in June:

*The selections shown above are suggestions only. Hosts are free to choose any items.

 

Get in touch today! I’d love to help you plan and host your party!

 

4luxurysweets@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com

 

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