Christmas season wouldn’t be the same without chocolate; chocolate cookies, squares, bars, cakes, drinks, you name it, it’s an essential to Canadian Christmases today.
Even though chocolate is regularly eaten for pleasure, there are potentially many health effects, both negative and positive. I choose to expound on the positive today. Cocoa or dark chocolate may positively affect the circulatory system, have anticancer benefits, be a brain stimulator, cough preventor and have antidiarrheal activities, but an aphrodisiac effect is yet unproven. According to research, limited amounts of dark chocolate appear to help prevent heart disease. A BBC report indicated that melting chocolate in one’s mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and also lasted four times as long after the activity had ended.
So I say ‘tis the season of chocolate; don’t deprive yourself of brain stimulation!
Today I have two Christmas recipes that use delicious chocolate. Enjoy.
Peanut Butter Bars
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In large mixing bowl, beat peanut butter and butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla, and beat until creamy. Blend in flour and salt. Stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips.
Spread into ungreased 13×9 inch baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Immediately sprinkle remaining morsels over cookie layer. Let stand 5 minutes until morsels become shiny and soft. Spread the rest of the chocolate chips evenly over top. Cool completely.
(a Chipits recipe)
48 Chips Mini Kisses brand milk chocolate baking pieces (approx.)
1 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Chipits Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Chocolate Drizzle (Recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until well-blended. Add flour to butter mixture; blend until smooth. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
Mold scant tablespoons dough around each chocolate baking piece, covering completely. Shape into balls and place on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set and golden on the bottom. Cool slightly and remove from baking sheets to a rack; cool completely. Garnish with Chocolate Drizzle; let stand until set. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Chocolate Drizzle Place 1/4 cup Chipits Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips and 1 tsp. shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50 per cent) for 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave for an additional 10 seconds, stirring after each interval, until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.