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For the Love of Chocolate

For the Love of Chocolate.

Almost everyone loves chocolate. In a recent study conducted by the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, chocolate was ranked as America's favorite flavor. Of course, the love of chocolate is not unique to modern society. As far back as 2000 years ago, the Mayans created a drink from crushed cocoa beans and referred to chocolate as "food of the gods."

Chocolate might even be good for us! Some medical studies have indicated some health benefits associated with eating chocolate. According to Larry Graham, president of the American Cocoa Research Institute (ACRI), chocolate is very high in antioxidants. In fact, it contains one of the highest levels of antioxidant compounds that can be found in any food and may reduce the risk for coronary heart disease. Subjects in a study conducted at Pennsylvania State University experience higher HDL, "good," cholesterol levels when they included small amounts of chocolate in their diets. Experts have concluded that eating chocolate might increase endorphins, "feel-good" chemicals in our brains, and lift our moods. Chocolate also contains several important minerals and is a major source of copper in our diet.

So go ahead, indulge that craving. Enjoying chocolate in moderation, as part of a sensible diet, is not only tasty, it's good for you too.

Here are some recipes to help you get your chocolate fix:

ULTIMATE BROWNIES

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Place butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Blend in cocoa. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well. Stir in milk chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Pour batter into prepared pan

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes about 36 brownies.

DECADENT CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cup confectionary sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon coffee liquer (such as Kahlua)*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, very finely chopped

*may substitute 1 tablespoon chocolate extract

Cream butter in large bowl. Combine confectionary sugar and cocoa. Add alternately with cream, coffee liquer and vanilla to butter. Blend well. Chill until firm. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll in semi-sweet chocolate until coated. Chill until firm. Makes about 36 truffles.

About the Author

Sherri Allen is the editor of an award-winning website devoted to topics such as family, food, garden, house&home and money. For free articles, information, tips, recipes, reviews and coloring pages, visit http://www.SherriAllen.com/

Sherri Allen