Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, February 13, 2002


Sweet thoughts

It's true that chocolate has been
found to have healthy qualities,
but let's not get carried away

Chocolate recipes
Like wine for chocolate?

By Betty Shimabukuro

It's not good enough that chocolate is creamy, luscious and an aphrodisiac. Nor is it enough that science has proven chocolate isn't as bad for us as we once believed.

No, being eternal rationalists, we want chocolate to be good for us. We want to be able to take a daily dose of Milky Way and call it medicinal. Tomorrow being Valentine's Day, prime time for a chocolate treat, it would be so nice to chew into a half-dozen truffles -- for health's sake.

We are so hopeless.

For the happy talk, proceed to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association and its heavily footnoted Web site,

Much scientific research is cited there: a study that showed the main saturated fatty acid in chocolate to be stearic acid, which does not raise cholesterol levels; a report that chocolate contains high amounts of phenolic compounds, antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Mini-brownies are a quick Valentine's chocolate treat. Recipe below.

Chocolate is in reality quite low in caffeine, the association asserts. It is not the bogyman that brings about hyperactivity in children and can be blamed for tooth decay only in the presence of other factors such as poor dental hygiene.

Dian Dooley, a nutritionist with the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, cautions that while all of that is dependable information, the danger is connecting the dots to the point where you use scientific facts to justify overindulgence.

The red foil conceals a chocolate-dipped cookie from Honolulu Cookie Co.

Yes, chocolate has been shown to have the same protective polyphenolic compound found in red wine, but it also has lots of sugar and plenty of fat, and both of those pose their own risks. A person can get those antioxidant compounds in other foods, Dooley says, "and not get a whole lot of calories with them."

Bottom line: "To tell someone they should eat a whole lot of chocolate because it's good for them is missing the point of the research."

In other words, moderation in all things.

Oh, that's so boring.

The flip side, though, Dooley says, is that chocolate is not an evil substance to be avoided, as long as your diet is otherwise balanced and you don't have a health restriction such as diabetes. Her prescription is to go with high quality, not high quantity. "Buy really good stuff, pay really big bucks for it, and enjoy it thoroughly."

Dean Lavornia, a pastry arts instructor at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I., believes the route of true wisdom is chocolate with the bad stuff removed.

He, too, has been following the research on chocolate, and he, too, is not quite sold. "As far as it being good for you, I think the verdict is still out on that."

Lavornia teaches a class in light, healthy desserts, part of the nutrition degree program at the college. His mission has been to develop lower-fat chocolate desserts, and his solution has been Dutch-processed cocoa powder.

Cocoa powder is chocolate with 75 percent of the cocoa butter removed, and therefore most of the fat. Dutch processing neutralizes acidity and provides dark color and full flavor, Lavornia says. As far as brands go, he suggests the European Bensdorf and Droste brands, although American-made Ghiradelli is also Dutch-processed.

He's had great success with mousse, soufflé and bavarian cream desserts made of a combination of cocoa powder and tofu. The tofu takes the place of eggs and cream; the Dutch cocoa is deeply flavored enough to mask the soy taste, he says.

For Valentine's Day, he will make meringue shells filled with chocolate-tofu cream, topped with raspberries and raspberry sauce. As a beginner, though, you can try this basic recipe:

Honolulu Chocolate Co.'s liqueur-filled truffles are from France.


Tofu Chocolate Silk

1 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup coffee liqueur (optional)
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 15-ounce block silken tofu
2 tablespoons honey or corn syrup

Melt the chocolate, liqueur and cocoa in a bowl over simmering water. Stir in vanilla.

Combine tofu, chocolate mixture and honey in a blender or food processor and liquefy until smooth.

May be served as a mousse or used as a filling in chocolate cups or a pie crust. Refrigerate 2 hours, or until filling is set. Serves 8.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 211 calories, 8.27 g total fat, 4.3 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 25.5 mg sodium, 5.9 g protein, 27.2 g carbohydrate, 2.9 g fiber.

Pastry chef Jacques Torres created this simple recipe for his recent "Chocolate with Jacques Torres" show on the Food Network. Run to the store for some almond paste and cocoa powder and you can pull this off for your valentine.

Bite-Size Brownies

Food Network

1-3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond paste
5 eggs
7 tablespoons (scant 1/2 cup) cocoa powder
9 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour mini muffin tins, or line with paper liners.

Using an electric mixer, cream the almond paste, then gradually add eggs, one at a time. Add cocoa powder, then melted butter (butter should be warm). Blend the ingredients until completely combined.

Fill muffin tins, leaving about 1/8 inch on top of the batter. Bake until slightly puffed and a thin crust has formed. Don't over bake, or brownies will be dry. Serves 12 to 16.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Last-minute choco-gifts

Alan Wong's: A hollow heart decorated with a chocolate cherub and filled with mac-nut candies is $10.50. Choco-lollipops are $2, at the Pineapple Room inside Macy's Ala Moana.

Kakaako Kitchen: Truffles made with champagne, cognac and Grand Marníer are $1.50 each, $8 for six or $15 for a dozen at the Ward Centre restaurant. With six or 12 you get a box and a bow.

Honolulu Chocolate Co.: Heart-shaped truffles flavored with liqueurs are $2.50 each or $14.50 for six. The Ward Centre shop is packed with other specialty items, as well as presentation boxes in heart and lip shapes.

Honolulu Cookie Co.: A heart-shaped shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate and presented as a rose is $3.95 or $35.95 for a bouquet of 12. Or buy mini-cookies in heart-shaped baskets or boxes at 1717 Homerule St. (845-1517).

Padovani's Chocolates: The handmade truffles are sold at Strawberry Connection, Padovani's Chocolate Boutique in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center or at Padovani's Restaurant and Wine Bar.

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