Friday, July 11, 2014

Healthy dark chocolate truffles break the ‘echo chamber’

This article and recipe came at the request of my good friend and former co-worker Michelle Ray. You can follow her on Twitter. I highly recommend her radio program, In-Deep with Michelle Ray.


Dark Chocolate Truffles
Dark Chocolate Truffles

These hand-made dark chocolate truffles are a great social network management tool at small gatherings. The truffles are a tool to help you escape that dreaded “echo chamber” that Glenn Beck and Kevin Boyd caution against.

Imagine your spouse’s liberal cousin “Eggar” comes for a visit. You know he’ll want to talk politics and try to sell you on Obamacare. You want a break from debating TARP’s failure and you are sick of hearing how the “shutdown” was all Bush’s fault. You just want to enjoy some polite conversation and enjoy the company.  When Eggar starts trying to corner your more conservative guests, raise the plate and ask “would you care for a dark chocolate truffle?”

You’ll be able to boast that you made these yourself.  Eggar will be too amazed to start that argument he desperately needs to feed his attention-starved life. If you really want to part Eggar’s uni-brow, this would be a great opportunity to segue into a discussion on great wines to pair with the truffles. Should you be lucky enough to have a wine aficionado such as Ilona Thompson on hand, pass the center of attention over to her. Hopefully she’ll have brought a bottle of a “big, broody mountain fruit Cabernet”  along.  Having a pinot noir from Laetitia Wine or Chamisal Vineyards on hand may heighten the conversation. Some hidden local treasures such as Sonoita Vineyard’s MeCaSa (varietal combining Merlot, Cabernet, and Sangiovese) from Arizona or Llano-Estacado Winery’s Petit Verdot from Texas could turn it into a wine and chocolate tasting party. Eggar’s mouth will be too busy tasting the combination of a dark chocolate truffle and a luscious red wine to try to bug you about how Keynesian economic programs will eliminate evil income inequality.
Note: Eggar is a composite character and is not meant to represent any specific individual, living or dead (and still voting).

Brain-Building Dark Chocolate Truffles

 Adapted and modified from a recipe in Dr. David Perlmutter’s best-selling book “Grain Brain”.
Makes from 20-40 truffles, depending upon size.

Ingredients:

1 cup – heavy whipping cream
1 tsp – vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp – granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp – dark chocolate cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tbsp – coconut oil
1 oz – liqueur such as Irish cream, amaretto, or Frangelico (optional)
8 oz – dark chocolate bar of 80 percent or greater cacao, chopped
finely chopped nuts, finely chopped coconut, and/or cocoa powder & confectioner’s sugar (2:1 ratio) for covering
Nutritional quick facts: Each truffle contains approximately 5g carbohydrates, 2g protein per truffle, depending upon size of truffle, coating, and grade of chocolate.

Directions:

Place the broken up pieces of dark chocolate bar into a small mixing bowl, preferably glass. Set the bowl aside at room temperature.

broken dark chocolate
broken dark chocolate

In a small sauce pan, mix the remaining ingredients except for the coating. Heat at low-medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicon or rubber spatula until the coconut oil melts and the ingredients are well blended. Lower to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for approx. 5 minutes. Make sure the dry ingredients dissolve and are well-blended into the mixture, especially the cocoa powder.

The simmering accomplishes two things. First it ensures the ingredients blend well and the flavor and sweetness are consistent. Second, it helps reduce the amount of water in the mixture, allowing it to thicken to the right consistency once cooled.

Next, pour the warm mixture over the broken chocolate bar in the bowl. Fold the ingredients with the spatula until the chocolate bar pieces are melted and well blended throughout the mixture. The mixture should be smooth and free of lumps, with a light glossy appearance on top.

truffle mixture
truffle mixture

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours but no more than 8.

Prepare your coating. The example in the pictures uses a blend of hazelnuts, almonds, coconut, cocoa powder, and confectioner’s sugar milled in a food processor until it has a rough meal appearance. Other possible coatings include just coconut, finely chopped peanuts, cocoa powder, or even ground up Coco Pebbles for those not on a carbohydrate or grain restricted diet. Place your coating material on a beveled plate or a shallow soup bowl.

spooning truffles
spooning truffles

Using a common spoon, spoon out a portion of the truffle mixture. With your hands, roll the mixture into a ball approx. one inch in diameter. Resist the temptation to lick your fingers until you’re done with all the truffles. Next, roll that ball in the coating material. Place the truffle on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or waxed paper. Repeat until all the truffles are coated and placed on the paper-covered sheet.

Refrigerate for 12 hours to set.

Eat and enjoy. The truffles will keep up to a week if placed in an airtight container and refrigerated. In most households, though, they probably will be eaten within 48 hours.

completed truffle
completed truffle

 Healthy Benefits

This is a desert treat. However, there are a few healthy benefits hidden in these treasures. An option not listed in the recipe is adding a teaspoon of high-grade instant coffee to boost the anti-oxidants. However, dark chocolate contains many of the same inflammation-fighting and free-radical expelling anti-oxidants. Chocolate and coffee are cousins much like spinach and kale. Recent studies indicate that dark chocolate is good for cardiovascular health and brain health. Not only does it contain those anti-oxidants, it has other chemicals the body uses to eliminate plaque, keeping it from adhering to blood vessel walls or building up as white matter in the brain.

The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in the coconut oil are beneficial to transporting omega-3 fatty acids where they need to go. They also transport vitamins D, K, A and B to fight inflammation and work on cellular regeneration, to include brain cells.

Pairing the truffles with red wines adds other benefits. Red wines contain resveratrol. Resveratrol helps reduce low-density lipo-proteins  (LDLs) from building up as plaque in the heart and blood vessels. It helps the body to generate high-density lipo-proteins (HDLs), a key component of brain cells. So, in moderation, red wine and dark chocolate can help make you smarter.

Health and happiness from my mouth to yours, and even to Eggar’s.

The author is not a medical doctor nor a currently registered dietitian. The information provided in this article is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to be interpreted as medical, nutritional or health advice. Please seek the advice of an expert before starting any new diet or exercise program.