BY LISA TRUESDALE

 

If you think you love chocolate, you need to hear about the ancient Aztecs. They believed that cacao was a gift from the god Quetzalcoatl, and that it had magical, or even divine, powers. Cacao beans were so valuable in Aztec society that they were used as a form of currency. The notorious Aztec ruler, Montezuma II, supposedly drank gallons of chocolate every day, for energy and as an aphrodisiac.

We’re with Montezuma II—it’s so easy to love chocolate. It smells good, tastes delicious and creates a pleasing sensation as it melts in your mouth. The darker it is, the more healthy antioxidants it contains. It’s a proven stress-reliever because it sends dopamine (the “feel-good chemical”) to the brain. Chocolate is calming, warming and comforting, whether you’re savoring it on its own, drinking it or diving into a decadent dessert.

“Chocolate isn’t just candy, or even a ‘superfood,’” says Sarah Chesnutt of Boulder’s Moksha Chocolate. “A gift from nature, with a little human intervention, it’s a very complex indulgence, and almost universally appreciated. Chocolate needs no explaining.”

 

Classic Chocolate Mousse

It tastes heavenly and looks ultra-fancy, but mousse is pretty simple to make. Whip this up for the holidays, for Valentine’s Day or just because it’s Wednesday!

INGREDIENTS

1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream

1 Tbsp. rum, orange liqueur or Irish cream, optional

10–12 oz. bittersweet baking chocolate (60-70%), broken into small pieces

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, beat cream at medium speed just until stiff peaks begin to form. Gently mix in the alcohol, if using.

In a double boiler or a bowl set atop a saucepan, melt chocolate pieces over simmering water.

Pour melted chocolate into whipped cream and fold it in gently. Do not overmix; a few streaks are fine.

Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Get creative by serving mousse in small teacups, shot glasses or little bowls carved out of fresh orange halves.

DRESS IT UP! Top with fresh berries, orange curls, mint leaves, chocolate shavings and/or whipped cream.

 

Molé: Chocolate’s Savory Side

Teocalli Cocina’s Enchilada de Queso Oaxaca features Oaxaca and Chihuahua cheeses, pickled onions, and Gaspar’s famous molé poblano sauce.

Chef Julio Gaspar’s recipe for this traditional Mexican sauce was handed down through generations in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

“It’s sweet, spicy, creamy and a little smoky. I use three different dried chilies that my family ships to me,” he says. Gaspar’s molé contains 19 ingredients in all, including Mexican chocolate, plantains, and roasted nuts and raisins. As for molé-making, it’s a labor of love: “We roast everything individually so they keep their unique flavors, then we blend and cook for four hours, let it rest overnight, cook for another hour the next day, then blend again so it’s nice and smooth.”

Try Gaspar’s molé at Teocalli Cocina in Lafayette, and also try the molé at Blue Agave in Longmont, where chef Alex Lepe’s recipe from the Mexican state of Jalisco includes sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and tomato.

 

Chocolate-Tasting Notes

Courtesy Boulder’s Moksha Chocolate

“Think of your chocolate tasting as a wave formation. Your first impression— after noting the texture—will be immediately recognizable as chocolate, then slowly building in intensity. A very dark chocolate may seem sharp and even sour, but the sweet will surge in to balance that. A less-dark or milk chocolate will be more sweet-forward as the fats melt. At this midpoint, the flavors will compete to present themselves, so pay attention! Close your eyes, perhaps. Cut the music. Move the chocolate around the tongue and see how the flavors shift. Now the main categories of taste are detectable: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, savory. What fruits can you sense, what darker flavors like earth, tannins, caramel, spice? Then the aftertaste. It may seem sour, maybe smoky, and note the texture. Any sharpness should recede; the profile changes yet again. Time for another bite to double check!”

For more chocolate-tasting tips, including how to prepare your palate, visit mokshachocolate.com.

INDULGE!
3 Chocolate Desserts to Try at Local Restaurants

Mexican Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding at Santo

with caramel, crème anglaise and cinnamon whipped cream

Chocolate Nemesis at Spruce Farm + Fish

with dark cherry coulis and crème fraîche (gluten-free)

Chocolate Pot de Crème “S’mores” at Martini’s Bistro

with graham cracker tuile and marshmallow cream

 

SHOP!
BoCo’s Artisan Chocolatiers

Lift Chocolates, Boulder liftchocolates.com

Moksha Chocolate, Boulder mokshachocolate.com

Piece, Love & Chocolate, Boulder pieceloveandchocolate.com

Robin Chocolates, Longmont robinchocolates.com

 

CELEBRATE!
Chocolate-Themed Events

The Chocolate Lovers’ Fling Feb., TBA. is an annual fundraiser for SPAN, Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence. Find all the updates at safehouselliance.org.

Also check our daily events calendar for chocolate tastings, cooking classes and more!

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