How are you going to celebrate?
Photo source: cy8cy.com
By Kate Steffens, Chocolate Expert for Menuism.com
We’ve all had that moment, putting on a jacket and finding a long-lost Hershey’s Kiss in the pocket, or finding a forgotten bar of baking chocolate in the back of the pantry. Such is the power of chocolate that many of us would throw caution to the wind and gobble it right up when there is a good chance of stomachache–or worse. So how do you know whether your newly unearthed chocolate is still good? Do yourself a favor and watch out for the following five signs to determine whether your chocolate’s spoiled or if it’s safe to eat.
1. Fat Bloom
When you see a white or grayish film on the surface of your food, it normally means the product has gone bad, but it’s a different story with chocolate. When the cocoa butter fats in chocolate separate from the cocoa mass and rise to the surface, it results in something called “fat bloom.” While not the most attractive thing to see on your chocolate bar, fat bloom is usually safe to eat.
2. Sugar Bloom
Chocolate that has been exposed to humidity or moved quickly from cold to hot temperatures can cause the sugar to crystallize. The result is a grainy, unpleasant texture, and while it’s not harmful to consume, sugar bloom doesn’t make for a very pleasant eating experience.
A sniff test is an easy way to tell if your chocolate will be tasty or off-putting. Chocolate absorbs odors like a sponge, especially when stored in a fridge full of savory foodstuffs. Chocolate is best stored tightly wrapped, in a cool (about 65 °F, unrefrigerated), dry environment away from strongly scented foods.
4. Quality & Freshness
Chocolate is best when eaten within a year of its production, but high quality chocolate can be consumed well past its sell-by date. Some chocolate improves like wine, with age. High quality chocolate contains natural preservatives called flavanols. Flavanols provide excellent antioxidant health benefits while keeping the chocolate fresher-tasting longer than store-bought chocolate containing artificial preservatives.
A small nibble should be enough to alert you to any rancid or off tastes. Watch out for overpowering bitterness and the presence of other, non-chocolate flavors like onion or garlic. Cocoa powder can last a long time if stored properly in a sealed container, but can quickly take on a funky taste and scent if exposed to a pantry full of spices.
Read more at eatocracy:
We’re milking today for all it’s worth – December 28 is National Chocolate Candy Day!
It’s impossible to have a bad day when chocolate is on the menu, especially melt-in-your-mouth candy that comes in oh so many flavors and forms.
Candy was pretty popular in the 1800s (how could it not be?) and if you had a sugar craving, you could cure it by going to a general store or candy shop and scooping up a giant bag of whatever your heart desired … except for chocolate. Our predecessors were rather attached to it as a beverage or rich dessert. But when the public began to clamor for chocolate candy, the chocolate bar was born.
Fry’s Chocolate Factory is credited with molding the first chocolate bar that actually tasted decent in England, 1847. From chocolate cream bars to chocolate Easter eggs, the company churned out more than 220 products in the decades that followed.
But because packaging cost money and it was cheaper to buy loose candy, it wasn’t until the early 1900s when an enterprising Hershey Company stepped in with the first wrapped chocolate bar. It is still the same bar we know and love today!
And if bars aren’t your fancy, it’s not too early to buy yourself a big box of fondant and cream-filled chocolates in a heart-shaped box, or a big-box-store bag of your favorite chocolate candy. Indulge yourself today, and we’re sure you’ll be melting with chocolate happiness.
The idea that chocolate may be good for us is not a new one… chocoholics and medicalnprofessionals have been suggesting it forever. Now there’s proof! The Univsity of Cambridge recently studied the effects of chocolate on over 100,000 participants. The findings? To begin with, people with the highest chocolate consumption levels had 37% lower risk of heart disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke. Read more at Time.com
Yes, it’s true: a new study from BMJ.com finds that eating chocolate is no sin. In fact, it was associated with a 37% lower risk of developing heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for more than a quarter of all adult deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Doctors keep reminding us that much of that risk can be prevented by making heart-healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet, quitting smoking and exercising.
Now the new study, which is a review of seven previous studies involving more than 100,000 people, suggests that eating chocolate could potentially offer some benefit too.
Dr. Oscar Franco and his colleagues from the University of Cambridge analyzed observational studies examining the association between chocolate consumption and cardiovascular outcomes. Five of the seven studies showed some benefit to eating chocolate. Overall, people with the highest chocolate consumption levels had 37% lower risk of heart disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke than those who ate the least chocolate.
It’s not clear why, but some past studies have attributed chocolate’s heart benefits to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help blood pressure and improve insulin resistance.
That’s certainly happy news for chocoholics, but the researchers caution that the data do not confirm that eating chocolate necessarily leads to a healthier heart: randomized, controlled trials are needed to show that it’s the chocolate — and not other factors that may be common to chocolate lovers, such as, say, a heart-healthy diet or higher physical activity levels — that actually causes a reduction in cardiovascular risk.
Plus, the authors note, much of the chocolate available on the market contains large amounts of fat, sugar and calories, which can contribute to weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes if consumers overindulge — that can undermine any benefits that chocolate might have on the heart.
And while the studies included in the review didn’t differentiate between dark or milk chocolate, and included candy bars, cookies and other desserts in the assessment, the researchers suggest that reduced-calorie and reduced-sugar chocolate may be a way for chocolate-lovers to enjoy the benefits of chocolate without its potentially unhealthy effects.
In addition to being published on BMJ.com, the findings are presented today at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris.
Read more: TIME.com