LOS ANGELES TIMES. Jonathan Grahm, the owner of Compartés Chocolatier in Brentwood, is just back from a whirlwind pre-Valentine's Day tour of Japan... Grahm's face has been plastered on billboards, little old ladies in kimonos vied for his autograph, designers wanted his chocolates to coordinate with their products (underwear, for example)...
Part II of “The Health Benefits of Chocolate”
At first the phrase, “Chocolate as a Health Food” sounds a bit absurd, but take a look at a piece under a microscope and suddenly it isn’t so far-fetched. Cocoa, in its rawest form, is naturally, absolutely packed with all sorts of good things that have been scientifically proven to benefit a person’s health. When cocoa is processed and made into chocolate some of these ingredients are removed during the process, but higher quality gourmet chocolate retains more of these natural healthy components when the cocoa is refined into chocolate. Therefore, high quality chocolate is healthier.
Long gone are the days of taking chalky, artificial flavored vitamins shaped in the image of popular cartoon characters to obtain a healthy dose of vitamins. The new alternative is chocolate! Yes, chocolate! Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is completely full of essential vitamins and minerals Including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and manganese as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid. Cocoa boasts the highest natural source of magnesium. It is said that a diet high in magnesium drastically aids in preventing symptoms of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, joint problems and pre-menstrual tension. So yes ladies, if you get bad cramps or mood swings, don’t ignore that chocolate craving! It’s just the body’s way of telling you what it needs.
On top of all the vitamins and minerals chocolate contains, it also has some other interesting properties that can benefit your health as well. There’s nothing more satisfying than melting a decadent piece of Gourmet chocolate in your mouth after a rough day. Some people automatically reach for chocolate when they are sad, and scientists have figured out why. Chocolate contains a natural, mild mood elevator called phenylethylamine (PEA) which is produced when emotions such as love and joy are felt. In addition to this, chocolate has been shown to boost the neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as the brains natural anti-depressant mechanism, and on top of all that it also increases endorphin levels in the brain which greatly elevates mood. Chocolate can be a powerful yet simple solution to overcoming a bad day at the office or satisfying an intense craving.
Chocolate has long been revered by ancient cultures such as the Mayans for its taste as well as its medicinal properties, and we are just figuring out today the many health benefits chocolate has to offer. There are so many great things that chocolate can do for you, so go eat a little chocolate today! Check out our great Ancient Aztec chocolate bar inspired by the Aztecs and Mayans use of chocolate.
If you haven't read it already, Part 1 of the Health Benefits of Chocolate explains even more benefits!
Gourmet chocolate that's good for you? Yes please! Recent scientific studies have shown that chocolate may actually be closer to being a health food than an off-limits fantasy for people looking to live a healthy lifestyle. Scientists have found that Chocolate, being a plant-based food, is extremely rich in antioxidants just like blueberries, green tea, and red wine. So good news for those of you who just can’t put down that gourmet chocolate bar, you’ve been eating one of the best super foods all along!
Gourmet chocolate has been said to positively aid in reducing a person’s risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer. Chocolate consumption leads to increased metabolic function. An increased metabolism is one of the main factors in reducing a person’s risk for heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, hence why chocolate has been linked as a combatant to these health problems.
The cacao plant, the essential ingredient in chocolate is one of the most antioxidant rich super fruits in the entire world. Gourmet chocolate contains these antioxidants, which have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of cancer. The antioxidants in chocolate do this by combatting and neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals actively work to age and decay healthy cells, which in turn lead to complications throughout the whole body leaving you prone to disease and other ailments, especially cancer. Having a few pieces of luxury chocolate each day can dramatically improve your health as well as reduce the risk of getting many life-threatening diseases. Who knew that Chocolate could do as much for your health as it does for your cravings?
In America, cardiovascular related illnesses are responsible for a huge majority of deaths each year. Doctors and scientists have been tediously searching for a way to cut down the risk for such illnesses and have found that the consumption of flavanoids, a type of antioxidant found in plants, greatly reduces the risk for heart-related illnesses. Flavanoids protect plants from environmental toxins and when consumed, help lower blood-pressure, improve blood flow, and make blood platelets less prone to clot. This is due to the anti-inflamatory properties of the flavanoids. Chocolate contains one of the most potent and effective flavanoids called flavanols (I swear these are real words!) These blood thinning, anti-inflammitory flavonals found in the chocolate help stave off heart-related illness and protect against heart disease and heart attack.
Recent studies have also linked Chocolate to a reduced risk in stroke. The dual purpose flavanoids that help to alleviate heart ailments such as heart disease and heart attack are also the hero behind this significant drop in risk for stroke. The flavanols in in Chocolate increase blood flow to the brain, decrease blood concentrations of bad cholesterol, and improve flexibility of the arteries to decrease the chance of stroke. A little bit of high quality, gourmet, flavanoid rich chocolate can go a long way in helping maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
One more incredible thing that chocolate does to benefit your body is that it can guard your body against developing diabetes and lower the risk for high-risk patients. Chocolate has been said to help regulate insulin levels and is linked to accelerated metabolism of sugar. Impaired insulin function can lead to diabetes which then causes too much sugar to build up in the blood stream. Even though counter-intuitive at first, chocolate actually does help reduce the amount of sugar in the blood stream due to its effect on metabolism.
So whether you are a health nut looking to add the super-powered benefits of chocolate to your body or a chocoholic searching for your fix, do your body and your taste buds a favor and indulge in a little bit of hand-crafted, gourmet chocolate today.
Stay tuned to our blog for more articles on our series on the “Health Benefits of Chocolate” by Compartes Chocolatier.
Compartes Chocolatier and owner Jonathan Grahm appears on LIVE Japanese television being interviewed for Tokyo's Golden Hour TV Show. He discusses all things chocolate, los angeles, Compartes, celebrities and much more. Check out the awesome introduction where Jonathan has to "burst through" paper! Only in Japan. For more on Compartes and Jonathan, follow us on twitter @Compartes http://twitter.com/compartes or on facebook at http://facebook.com/compartes -- Compartes Chocolates are available all over the United States and have 7 locations in the country of Japan.
8oz butter, room temperature
1 1/4c dark brown sugar
3/4c granulated sugar
1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
3c pastry flour
1tsp baking soda
2tsp kosher salt
24oz 65-75% cocoa content dark chocolate buttons (you can also pick up a Compartes dark bar and cut it up into flat chunks)
method:in a kitchen aid bowl, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until all combined. do not beat until pale or your cookies will be too flat.
add the eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
stop the mixer and scrap the sides of the bowl.
add the vanilla extract and mix for 10 seconds.
sift the pastry flour, baking soda and salt and slowly add it to the mixer with the mixer on the lowest setting.
when you see that almost all the flour has been incorporated, add the chocolate and mix just until combined.
form the dough into balls the size of golf balls.
for chewy cookies:
chill the dough for 2 hours
place the balls of cookie dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 10 minutes.
rotate and bake for another 4-6 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
I love chocolate...as you all probably know by now. As much as I try to make other goodies at home, my first choice is always something with chocolate. I came across this delicious recipe for a simple and decadent chocolate tart and it has instantly become one of my favorites, a classic if you will, for me to make at home and serve at a dinner party or gathering at my place. With a hint of caramel and a boost from coffee to enhance the dark chocolatey flavor, this tart balances just the right amount of decadence and deliciousness. Try a recipe like this for Mother's Day or any time of the year and its guaranteed to become a classic at your house too! ;)
Jonathan's Favorite Chocolate Tart Recipe
1 1/4 cup (250 g) sugar
6 tablespoons (90 ml) warm coffee (preferably a dark roast like espresso)
4 ounces (115 g) unsalted high-quality butter, cubed, at room temperature
A hefty pinch of sea salt
6.5 ounces (185 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (35 g) flour
1 tablespoon dark rum or 1 teaspoon really good vanilla extract
One 9- or 10-inch (23 cm – 25 cm) prebaked tart shell
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC.)
2. Spread the sugar in an even layer in the bottom of a large, heavy-duty saucepan or Dutch oven. Cook the sugar over moderate heat until the edges liquefy and being to caramelize. Use a heatproof utensil to gently drag the liquefied sugar toward the center of the pan, encouraging the sugar to melt evenly.
3. Once the sugar is melted, it was caramelize rather quickly. When it starts to sightly smoke, but before it burns, turn off the heat and stir in the coffee. (The mixture will bubble and seize a bit. Be sure to avert your face and you may wish to wear oven mitts.)
4. If the caramel has seized up in places, stir it gently over low heat until smooth. Then add the butter and salt, and stir until melted, then stir in both chocolates until smooth*.
5. Mix in the eggs, then the flour. Stir in the rum or vanilla extract. (For a more boozy tart, sub in a bit more rum and less coffee, the amount of tablespoons here is a bit interchangeable)
6. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked tart shell, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes, just until the filling starts to rise and crack at the edges but the center is still jiggly. Do not overbake at all.
Remove from oven and let cool completely before slicing.
Storage: Tart will keep for up to three days at room temperature, well-wrapped.
Troubleshooting: If any bits of caramel remain after adding the butter, simply stir the mixture over very low heat until they’re all completely dissolved. If any stubborn little bits remain, you can strain the buttery caramel through a mesh sieve, before adding the chocolate.
*If the mixture is too hot to add the eggs right after the chocolate, you may let the mixture cool down a bit before adding the eggs.
Master Chocolatier Tips for a Chocolate Tasting by oprah.com contributor Jonathan Grahm
There's no better way to enjoy chocolate than by hosting a chocolate tasting for you and some of your favorite friends. Here are my four tips for choosing chocolates for a tasting party.
1. Taste All Kinds and Colors of Chocolate
When tasting different types of chocolate such as dark, milk and white, I suggest breaking them up into sections since the dark chocolate is going to be the strongest in flavor profile, while the white would be the weakest.
Regional single-origin chocolates from places in Africa such as Ghana, Madagascar, Tanzania, Nigeria and the Congo region are also very popular. While chocolates from regions in Asia such as Papua New Guinea may be harder to find, they are available as well. You can pick up these "single-origin" chocolates in good health food stores, a local Whole Foods market or online for a fun way to compare the flavors based on where the chocolate is grown and cultivated.
Did you know that 100 percent cacao, with no sugar at all, has a taste that is more bitter than coffee and some may compare it to burnt coal? My favorite chocolates are always around the 75 to 78 percent cacao range. With this kind of tasting, you can also pair several wines to match the strength of the cacao in the chocolate.
There is a broad range of chocolates that can be used in tastings based on flavor. Examples of interesting choices would be chocolates flavored with pepper (like a Mexican hot chocolate truffle or raspberry pink pepper), salt (such as our smoked salt or fleur de sel caramels), exotic fruits (such as kaffir lime or umeboshi plum), teas (like jasmine tea or earl grey) or a multitude of different flavor variations. Truffles or ganaches are my favorite to try for a flavor-based chocolate tasting, but chocolate bars (with exotic ingredients) are also a great way to go.
Overall, have fun and choose interesting combinations and varieties that have distinct flavor profiles that stand out and you are guaranteed a great afternoon or evening with friends and a whole lot of chocolate. Enjoy and happy eating!
Compartes Honey + Peanut Butter + Sea Salt and Fudge BrowniesPeanut-studded brownies, Compartes homemade-from-scratch peanut butter frosting and our luxury chocolate ganache...what better way to savor the PB-chocolate combo than these? We think you must get thee to the kitchen and make immediately!
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter (use salted for added flavor)
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (see our recommendation)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Frosting & Ganache
3/4 cup Compartes Peanut Butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, divided, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (see our recommendation)
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving long overhang; butter foil.
Place 3/4 cup butter in heavy large saucepan. Add both chocolates; stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt, then eggs, 1 at a time. Fold in flour, then nuts. Spread in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; cool.
Frosting & Ganache
Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and 1/4 cup butter in medium bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar and salt, then milk and vanilla. Spread frosting over brownies.
Stir chocolate and 1/4 cup butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Drop ganache all over frosting; spread to cover. Chill until set, about 1 1/2 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Using foil as aid, transfer brownie cake to work surface; cut into squares. Bring to room temperature; serve.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit