Sunday, February 7, 2016

Dark Chocolate with Pomegranate Squares a.k.a. Antioxidant Squares!



Its February and Valentines Day is fast approaching. Sid is excited for his class party and I am frowning at the idea of making 23 Valentine goody bags!

Me and Sam still do not like to celebrate Valentines Day. But given Sid's infectious excitement, I have softened my stance. I usually make a treat for the boy and we go out for dinner in the evening. Not as a couple, but as a family!

For the past few years, I have been making healthy sweet treats for the little man in my life. And thoroughly enjoyed doing it. When I saw this video on my Facebook feed, I instantly knew this year's treat! Not only will it be Sid approved, it will be good enough dessert to fit my diabetic diet too!



Guy we are talking Pomegranate and Dark Chocolate!

Little sweet-tart juicy nuggets embedded in a luscious bittersweet chocolate.

Oh - My - God!

That's a killer combination!




Originating in Persia (modern day Iran), and revered in many cultures as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life, Pomegranate is a ridiculously nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit. Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries. Go POMS!

Dark Chocolate is something I cannot talk or write about without sinking my teeth into one.
Yes! I am munching on to a certain Belgian one, while typing this post.

I love a good Dark Chocolate. The darker (more than 60% Cacao) the chocolate, the less sugar it contains and more antioxidant / flavonoids rich it is. Just like tea, coffee and even beer, Dark Chocolate is an acquired taste. If you do not like it first, do not loose hope. Give it some more time and it will grow on you. Promise!

Combining the bitter chocolate with sweet tart juices of the pomegranates, ensures a flavor explosion in every bite.



The recipe is super simple. You just melt some good baking chocolate and fill a silicon tray halfway through. Place a teaspoon of pomegranate seeds on top the the melted chocolates and cover with more melted chocolate. Refrigerate till firm. Pop it out and savor every decadent bite.

When a recipe calls for just 2 ingredients, make sure you get quality ingredients. Get the freshest pomegranate and a premium quality baking chocolate. I have make the same recipe twice - once with Baker's Bittersweet Baking Choc Squares and the other time with Ghirardelli 70% Cacao Extra Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar. Needless to say, Ghirardelli was easier to work with and tasted so much better.

Another very important aspect in this recipe is moisture. Just a drop water would seize up the chocolate, turning it into thick greasy goop and rendering it useless, at least in this recipe. So it is critical, that the pomegranate seeds are bone dry. Pat it multiple times with a paper towel till every bit of moisture is soaked up.




Bitter, sweet, tart and juicy - these Dark Chocolate with Pomegranate Squares are luxuriously chocolaty and so very addictive. OMG! I need to make another batch today!

And you should too!

Recipe Snapshot: Dark Chocolate with Pomegranate Squares a.k.a. Antioxidant Squares!


Serves: 12 serving
(1 serving = 1 piece)

What I used:
Bitter Sweet Baking Chocolate - 6 oz (I used Ghirardelli 70% Cacao Extra Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar)

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil - 1 tsp (optional)

Pomegranate Arils / Seeds - about 1/4 cup

Silicon molds



What I did:

1. Chop the baking bar in to small pieces.

2. In a glass measuring cup combine the chopped chocolate pieces, along with a teaspoon of Coconut Oil and microwave in bursts of 15 seconds till melted in a silky smooth puddle.

3. Fill every cavity of a silicon tray, halfway through. Place a teaspoon of pomegranate arils/seeds on top the the melted chocolates in each cavity. Fill the rest of the cavity with more meted chocolate.

4. Refrigerate for about an hour till firm. You can also freeze it for about half an hour. Pop it out of the mold and enjoy. Store the leftovers, covered or wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge.

Notes/Tip:
1. I have used coconut oil, during the melting process, to increase the viscosity of the melted chocolate. I really like the flavor of coconut. But you can use little butter or even vegetable oil for a more neutral flavor.

2. The pomegranate seed need to be very very dry. Even a little moisture could seize up the chocolate. After rinsing the arils, I let them sit on a colander till every bit of water has dripped off. Then I lay them down on a flat tray lined with paper towels and pat them dry with another paper towel. I repeat the process until all the external moisture is totally gone.

3. Usually silicon mold are nonstick and the firmed up chocolates would pop out in no time. But if for any reason , it gets stuck, its advisable to smear the mound with a bit of coconut oil or butter before adding the melted chocolate.


Diabetic Platter:
Pomegranate:
Many studies show that the pomegranate is one of the most powerful, nutrient dense foods for overall good health. These clinical findings clearly show a correlation between pomegranate compounds and their positive effect on both human and animal cardiovascular, nervous, and skeletal health.
  • Most powerful anti-oxidant of all fruits
  • Potent anti-cancer and immune supporting effects
  • Inhibits abnormal platelet aggregation that could cause heart attacks, strokes and embolic disease
  • Lowers cholesterol and other cardiac risk factors
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Shown to promote reversal of atherosclerosis plaque in human studies
  • May have benefits to relieve or protect against depression and osteoporosis

Quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa contentis actually quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals. Though quite calorie dense, the fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates.

Quality dark chocolate is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and a few other minerals. Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants, way more than most other foods.

The bioactive compounds in cocoa can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.

Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.

Observational studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk for the people who consume the most chocolate.

Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage.

Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain. One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain.

There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, but of course, this doesn’t mean people should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat on. Moderation is the key!

You need to choose quality stuff… organic, dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content.Dark chocolates often contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.

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