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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chocolate covered coffee bean...bark

My husband loves coffee. The stronger, the better. While we were out doing a little Christmas shopping, he discovered chocolate covered coffee beans at a local gourmet shop and considered buying some until we looked at the price. So I decided to try my hand at making some as a Christmas gift for him.  I guess I need to learn to manage my time a little better!  No wonder they are so expensive! 

I melted my dark chocolate in a double boiler and added the coffee beans.  So far so good.  But then, how do I get individual beans out of the chocolate onto waxed paper?  I tried a good.  A fork?  A little better but very slow.  That one cup of coffee beans in the chocolate looked like a bushel when faced with lifting each one out of the pot individaully.  So I made a bean bark!  Hey, it's festive, right?  It may not be as gourmet in appearance as the ones in the store but they taste even better because of the love!  Yeah, I'll just keep telling myself that as I watch him enjoying the bark.

I inherited the wicked looking meat tenderizer from my grandpa.  It worked well to break the chilled bark into small pieces without leaving fingerprints.

This treat can be consumed in moderate amounts without guilt because of all the wonderful benefits to be recieved from both coffee and chocolate. 

The coffee beans we use are fair trade organic beans that we purchase from a local whole foods distributor.  Coffee is a well known diuretic as anyone who travels with me can attest.  The buzz or lift that folks feel from their morning coffee comes from the caffeine which stimulates the nervous system, elevates blood pressure and stresses the adrenal glands.  Coffee can also deplete the body of calcium and B complex vitamins by decreasing the absorption of minerals that help the body assimilate these vitamins.  Thngs to be considered in light of your state of health.  But on the flip side, coffee has some wonderful benefits to offer as well.  Coffee offers nearly 1300mg of antioxidants as compared to the next highest, tea, which offers 294mg!  The National Cancer Institute found that coffee drinkers had half the liver cancer risk of those who don't drink it at all.  The Harvard School of Public Health found that men who drank 6-8oz. cups of coffee daily cut their chances of diabetes in half and women by 30%.

And now, Chocolate!  What woman doesn't know the value of this Mayan treat?  Real, unadulterated, natural dark chocolate is higher in antioxidants than red wine and green tea!  On the antioxidant scale, chocolate boasts over 13,000 ORAC units.  It's good for the heart because the flavonols that prevent clogged arteries also prevent blood clotting as well as a dose of aspirin.
The reason we women find solace in our chocolate is not all in our minds; chocolate contains tryptophan, an amino acid that causes the body to release our "feel good" endorphins. 
Chocolate is an anti inflammatory and an analgesic too which explains why it seems to help relieve monthly symptoms of bloating and cramping.  Something women seem to know instinctively.

All these benefits together make these comfort foods and energy boosters treats we can moderately indulge in without feeling too guilty for the pleasure they bring us.

I've posted this recipe on the REAL FOOD WEDNESDAY blog carnival.  Check out all the wonderful recipes and information available there.


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