Dark chocolate has long been recognised for its mood-altering properties and ability to increase exercise performance. Try this simple mood boosting chocolate recipe that is so easy and satisfying to make. Both cocoa and cacao originate from the raw cacao bean, however, there is a point of difference between the two, cocoa is processed at higher temperatures, resulting in a greater the loss of the antioxidant molecules, mainly flavonoids, most abundantly found in the form of epicatechin. Epicatechin is a plant based phytochemical found in dark chocolate, that improves various aspects of cognition and has been shown to induce positive effects on mood (1).
Research has shown that dark chocolate, with 70-85% cocoa solids, also exerts prebiotic effects, with its ability to change the diversity and abundance of healthy gut bacteria, which may improve negative emotional states via the gut-brain axis. That sounds like a good reason to eat chocolate to me!
- 200g 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 1½ tbsp pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- ¼ cup chopped almonds, pistachio’s or macadamia’s
- Large pinch of ground chilli (optional)
- 2 tbsp goji berries or unsweetened cranberries (optional)
- Sprinkle of sea salt flakes
- Place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and gently melt in a microwave or over a double boiler – see below. Add ground chilli to taste.
- Line a tray with greaseproof paper and pour the chocolate, smoothing out with a spatular, so it is approximately 2mm thick.
- Scatter your choice of nuts, dried fruit and seeds over the surface of the chocolate.
- Sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate.
- Once set, cut into pieces or simply break into pieces and serve.
TIP: You can add any dried fruit, seeds, or nuts that take your fancy. Top with freeze dried raspberry powder to take it to the next level. Toasted coconut flakes are also a favourite of mine.
To melt chocolate in microwave oven – use a microwave-safe bowl and gently melt the chocolate in 30-second intervals, stirring after each one. Careful not to burn the chocolate.
Melting chocolate using a double boiler – Place chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Melt the chocolate slowly, stirring frequently.
- Nehlig A. (2013). The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 75(3), 716–727. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04378.x