Chocolate, like Valentine’s Day, is a powerful force that demands attention — no matter how much you might want to ignore it.
A thick, fudgy brownie topped with swooping chocolate frosting is the ultimate expression in the language of love. Artisanal chocolate bars with flavor combos such as smoked bacon or sea salt and almond also make pretty sweet serenading options.
Chocolate comes in a variety of strengths, ranging from milk chocolate to semi-sweet to dark. Milk chocolate typically has added sugar, fats or cream, whereas dark chocolate has more of the original cocoa in it. When cooking or baking with chocolate, you can use cocoa powder, melting chocolate, chips or chunks and cocoa nibs. Be sure to check the labels of the chocolate, however, as some of the cheaper brands add extra ingredients and little to no cocoa.
The good news for chocoholics everywhere is that dark chocolate in small quantities has been found to lower blood pressure and increase circulation. The antioxidant compounds found in cocoa, called flavonoids, occur in higher rates in dark chocolate, making it the “healthiest” option for those looking to indulge. This definitely does not mean we’re endorsing downing a pint of dark chocolate gelato; a small chunk of chocolate is all you need to make your arteries and veins more flexible.
Still, we like to think that everyone should be eating more chocolate. It’s basically a fruit. So, what to do this Saturday? Homemade options include chocolate chip cookies or a less decadent smoothie with cocoa powder blended in. Of course, rich brownies with raspberries stirred in definitely score you some points.
Regina Brett, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, once wrote, “When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.” I think we can all agree she is right. Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand in hand, and they’re not calling it quits anytime soon.
– 1 cup unsalted butter
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
– 2 eggs
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup cocoa powder
– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
– 8 ounces cream cheese
– 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
– 1/4 cup cocoa powder
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
– Place butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl and microwave until fully melted. Let cool slightly before adding sugars. Stir until completely smooth.
– Add vanilla extract and eggs and stir until fully incorporated. Add baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and flour and stir until completely smooth. Fold in raspberries.
– Spread batter into the pan in an even layer and bake for 32-35 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
– Remove from oven and let cool completely. Once cool, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and cocoa powder together with an electric beater. Spread in an even layer over brownies. Serve and enjoy.