Ever notice how whenever you’re having a bad moment (or day), chocolate always comes to mind. What – that doesn’t happen to you? Just me? Hmm… I’m not sure you’re all telling the truth! But seriously – don’t you crave chocolate when you’re having a bad day?
The past few months have been a serious of good and bad days for me. There were some days (and nights) where I rummaged around the house, praying that I would find some sort of chocolate that appealed to my craving. Sadly, it seemed that all I really wanted was a fudgy brownie or a dark chocolate infused ice cream. Neither of things are common around my house and not wanting to drive out into the cold, I usually went without. I did, however, discover that I have a fondness for carob chips during these late night raids. My new favorite “cleaner” snack are carob chips, almonds, and apple slices.
While I do tend to crave chocolate when I’m stressed or feeling very under the weather (ladies, you know what I mean), there are some times I just randomly crave it. I know it’s not healthy to eat chocolate every single day or in the large amounts that I was craving, so I did a little digging. Chocolate is very high in magnesium, so when we crave chocolate, it typically means we’re in need of magnesium. There are a lot of foods that are high in magnesium, so chocolate isn’t your only option (I know, you’re jumping for joy right now). Not surprisingly, some of those super healthy foods we’re supposed to be eating all the time (leafy greens, fish, nuts, and seeds) are high in magnesium. Oh hey – look at that – my cravings for carob chips and almonds fit right in here!
But enough about not getting chocolate, because that’s not something we want to hear at all! Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and I’m pretty sure chocolate is one of the most popular gifts that are shared for this holiday. Why, you might ask? Well, because men are smart and know that chocolate is the way to *most* women’s hearts. When my husband was dating, one of his favorite treats to bring home were brownie bites and a nice red wine. Sometimes on my birthday or Valentine’s Day, he would splurge and bring home a specialty box from Russell Stover or Whitman’s. Delicious….
But…have you ever wondered what it would be like to incorporate chocolate into every meal? No, not just eating candy or chocolate bars. That’s just crazy talk. I’m talking about finding ways to sneak chocolate into salads and other savory dishes – unexpected meals. It’s kind of like the strategy of hiding vegetables in sweets (i.e. avocado brownies or zucchini chocolate cake), but in reverse. Well, this is something that sparked
my interest, so I decided to set out and find some tasty recipes that would pair this delectable treat with every day items.
And so, the Chocoholics Menu was born! Below you will find recipes for every meal so you an treat yourself for a day. Careful not to spoil your appetite though!! Before you go, here are just a few fun facts…
- Chocolate causes your heart to pound faster then when you kiss!
- Ben & Jerry’s was the first to make cookie dough ice cream. Where did they come up with the idea? This flavor came from an anonymous suggestion on their flavor suggestion board in one of its shops.
- There is a tiny bit of caffeine in chocolate. While most bars have about 10 milligrams, some darker chocolates can have as much caffeine as a can of Coca-Cola!
- Chocolate milk is an effective post-workout recovery drink.
- Americans buy more than 58 million pounds of chocolate on Valentine’s Day every year. This makes up about 5% of sales for the entire year!!
Gluten-Free Chocolate Pancakes with Fresh Strawberries
2 cups of gluten-free oats or rolled oats
1¼ cups vanilla almond milk
1 large ripe banana
1 tsp of raw honey
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1½ tsp baking powder
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 large organic egg
1 cup of sliced strawberries
1. Place the oats, milk, banana, honey, sea salt, vanilla, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a blender. Blend until smooth.
2. Add the egg and pulse until incorporated.
3. Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium heat and melt a teaspoon of coconut oil.
4. Once heated, pour ¼ cup of batter for each pancake onto the pan and brown on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).
5. Serve the pancakes with chocolate syrup or pure maple syrup and sliced strawberries.
Yields: 6-8 pancakes
Brownie Batter Shake
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use Shakeology)
- 1 cup water or unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 tsp PB2
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- Blend all ingredients until smooth and serve immediately!
Chicken & Pear Spinach Salad with Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 T milk chocolate chips
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp honey
Dash of salt and black pepper
1 cup fresh baby spinach
6 oz. cooked chicken chunks
1 pear, sliced
2 T dried cranberries
1 T sliced almonds, toasted
- In a microwaveable bowl, melt chocolate with olive oil. Stir until smooth, then whisk in vinegar, honey, and seasoning.
- Place spinach on a salad plate. Top with chicken, pear, cranberries, and almonds.
- Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately!
Chocolate, Balsamic, and Blue Cheese London Broil
4 oz. top loin, strip, or tenderloin steaks
2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz. crumbled blue cheese
Chocolate Balsamic Glaze
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T dark chocolate chips
1 T butter
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and season meat with cracked black pepper and salt. Place steaks on baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes.
- Turn oven onto BROIL and cook for another 5-10 minutes, watching carefully. Be sure to watch carefully so as to not overcook.
- Meanwhile, stir together balsamic vinegar and chocolate chips in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter.
- Drizzle each steak with the glaze.
Mozzarella Strawberry Salad with Chocolate Vinaigrette
- 6 thin slices deli ham, chopped
- 1 package (5 ounces) spring mix salad greens
- 1-1/2 cups kale
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese pearls (or slice up mozzarella sticks)
- 1-1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- In a small skillet, cook ham over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, divide salad greens and kale among 4 salad plates.
- Arrange cheese, strawberries and ham over greens.
- In a microwave, melt chocolate with oil and vinegar for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth, heating longer if necessary. Whisk in honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle over salads.
Chocolate Nutella Cheesecake Cake
Nutella Cheesecake Layer
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, such as Philadelphia®, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup Nutella® Hazelnut Spread
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup sour cream, such as Daisy® Brand
- 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa), melted & cooled
- Butter for greasing nonstick springform pan
- Arrange oven racks to lower and middle positions and preheat oven to 325ºF. Place a 9×13-inch baking dish or pan on the lower rack of oven and fill it halfway with water. The middle rack should be just above the pan of water which will provide added moisture to help prevent the cheesecake from cracking during baking. Generously grease springform pan with butter and set aside.
- Beat the cream cheese, Nutella® and vanilla until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary with rubber spatula.
- Add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
- Add the sour cream and melted chocolate; mix until fully incorporated and smooth.
- Using rubber spatula, scrape and pour batter into prepared pan. Place springform pan on middle rack in preheated oven above the pan of water.
- Bake until cheesecake is just set in center and no longer jiggles, about 50 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and place on wire cooling rack.
- Immediately run thin metal icing spatula around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake from sides of pan. This will prevent any surface cracking as the cheesecake cools and contracts.
- Allow cheesecake to cool completely, at least 1 hour.
- Once the cheesecake has cooled, place it (while still in the springform pan) into the freezer, covered with plastic wrap. Let the cheesecake freeze completely, about 4 to 5 hours or overnight.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Velvet Cake Layers
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into cup & leveled off, plus additional for dusting cake pans
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup sifted Hershey’s® Unsweetened Cocoa
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 1¼ tsp kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon sea salt or table salt)
- ½ cup hazelnut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 cup organic buttermilk
- 2 large eggs (mine weighed 105 grams w/o shells), at room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup Frangelico® Hazelnut Liqueur or hazelnut syrup such as Torani*
- 1½ tsp instant espresso granules, such as Ferrara®
- Butter, shortening or favorite cooking oil, for greasing cake pans
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with butter, shortening or oil. Line bottoms with parchment or wax paper circles. Grease paper linings and dust lined pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
- Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt on low speed (stir) until well combined and aerated, about 1 minute.
- Add oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla; mix on low speed, scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary with spatula. Beat on medium speed until well blended, about 2 minutes.
- Bring water and Frangelico® or hazelnut syrup to a boil in heatproof glass liquid measuring cup in microwave. Immediately add espresso granules and stir until dissolved. Carefully add boiling water mixture into batter on low speed and mix until well combined. Batter will be very thin.
- Using spatula, scrape and pour batter into prepared pans dividing evenly. Smooth tops evenly with rubber spatula.
- Bake in center of preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes.
- Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Run thin metal spatula around edges of each cake to loosen, then invert onto wire rack and peel away parchment or wax paper.
- Turn right side up onto wire racks (using an additional rack to flip); cool completely.
Chocolate-Nutella Cream Cheese Buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (or 1 stick salted & 1 stick unsalted)
- 4 oz. cream cheese, such as Philadelphia®, chilled from the fridge
- ½ cup Nutella® Hazelnut Spread
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- 4 T sifted HERSHEY’S® Special Dark Cocoa, or your favorite
- 3½ – 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, spooned in cup, leveled off & sifted
- 12 Ferrero Rocher® chocolate-hazelnut candies, for top of cake
- Using an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer and large bowl, beat butter on medium speed until creamy.
- Add cream cheese, Nutella® and vanilla; beat until fully incorporated. Gradually increase mixer speed to high and continue beating until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary with rubber spatula.
- Gradually add cocoa and 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar, beating on low speed (stir), until well combined. Add additional confectioners’ sugar until desired consistency for spreading and level of sweetness is reached. Beat on high speed until well combined and smooth while scraping down sides of bowl as necessary, about 1 to 2 minutes. Before frosting cake layers, rebeat buttercream to ensure smoothness.
- Place one cake layer onto serving plate. With icing spatula, spread about 3 tablespoons buttercream evenly over top of cake.
- Remove cheesecake layer from the freezer. Loosen cheesecake from sides of pan by running thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold cheesecake by removing sides of pan.
- Carefully, slide a hot knife (warmed under hot running water and wiped dry) under the cheesecake, and slide knife around the circumference, to release it from bottom of springform pan.
- If necessary, trim cheesecake to match the size of the cake layers. This is done by measuring the cheesecake layer against the cake layers on a cutting board. If the cheesecake layer is slightly larger in circumference, use a sharp knife to carefully shave away some of the outer edge of the frozen cheesecake to match the outer edges of the cakes until all sides are even or flush.
- Place cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Spread another 3 tablespoons buttercream over top of cheesecake.
- Place second cake layer on top of the cheesecake layer. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake neatly and evenly.
- Top with Ferrero Rocher candies and serve.