Expert Alice Medrich's Tips on Cooking With Chocolate

By Joyce Hendley, M.S., "The Queen of Chocolate," January/February 2011

Tips for how to make healthier chocolate desserts.

The pleasure begins with the best-quality chocolate. Medrich likes to use chocolate with a high percentage of cacao (cocoa solids), usually 70 percent. “There’s a lot of vibrant flavor in such dark chocolates, so you can often use quite a bit less,” Medrich notes. That trims significant calories, since most types of chocolate are about 150 calories per ounce.

She also makes liberal use of unsweetened cocoa powder, which by nature is nearly fat-free,
has just 12 calories a tablespoon and is packed with flavor. (Cocoa powder is the dried solids that remain when roasted, shelled cacao beans are ground to a paste and separated from their fatty components, called cocoa butter.)

Medrich prefers the complex, rich flavors of well-made natural cocoas over so-called “Dutch-process” versions, which are treated with alkali to reduce bitterness. Years ago, like many chocolate aficionados, Medrich swore by the dutched stuff—“probably because it was hard to find a good-quality natural cocoa back then,” she explains. “Most were too harsh or bitter, but today you can find really wonderful ones.”

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