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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Spain & Portugal / February ~ Chocolate !!
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    February ~ Chocolate !!

    Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:16 am
    Forum Host

    Chocolate is also spelled the same in Spanish and English, though pronunciations are different. In Spanish, it’s pronounced more distinctly, with emphasis on each vowel – choc-oh-LAHT-eh.

    ~ Chocolate is a processed food product from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central America and South America. The earliest documented reference to cacao use is around 1100 BC, and at first it was used primarily for beverages.

    ~ There are three main types of cacao beans used for the production of chocolate—criollo, forastero, and trinitario. Raw cacao has an intensely bitter taste but can be processed and fermented to develop the flavor.

    After processing, it is then ground into cocoa mass, pure chocolate in rough form. It is then processed into either cocoa solid or cocoa butter, which then are used for various chocolate products. Cocoa solids contain alkaloids (such as theobromine or phenethylamine) which have physiological effects on the body which are linked to serotonin levels in the brain which can help to lower blood pressure. It’s the theobromine that renders chocolate so toxic to animals, especially dogs, cats, horses and parrots.

    ~ The first European contact with chocolate came when Montezuma (then tlatoani of Tenochtitlan) introduced Hernán Cortés, a Spanish conquistador, to xocolatl in the 16th century. What the Spaniards then called "chocolatl" was said to be a beverage consisting of a chocolate base flavored with vanilla and other spices that was served cold. Montezuma's court reportedly drank about 2,000 cups of xocolatl per day, 50 of which were consumed by Montezuma himself. Until the 16th century, no European had ever heard of the popular drink from Central and South America. It was not until the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs that chocolate was imported to Europe. In Spain, it quickly became a court favorite, and within a century it became popular throughout the European continent. But despite its popularity throughout the entire continent, the delectable drink was still reserved primarily for royalty because it was, as of yet, still quite an expensive commodity. To keep up with the high demand for this popular drink, the Spanish began growing cacao beans to produce more chocolate. And eventually, chocolate production spread to other continents including Africa. In fact, presently Africa has become a leading cacao grower, which roughly 2/3 of the entire world’s cocoa being produced in West Africa, primarily in Cote d’lvoire (the Ivory Coast).

    Chocolate remains a very popular food product in most regions worldwide. It is a popular gift choice for many holidays and celebrations, especially when molded into shapes or symbols (such as chocolate hearts for Valentine’s Day, or chocolate bunnies at Eastertime, or Santa figures at Christmastime, or chocolate coins for Hanukkah, etc).

    ~ Europeans sweeten and fatten chocolate by adding refined sugar and milk, two ingredients not often included in the type of chocolate that is used in Mexican cooking. And there are several types of chocolate that are used for various cooking needs, such as . . .

    Raw Chocolate (also called raw cacao), is always dark and a minimum of 75% cacao. Because of the loss of vitamins and minerals during processing, most consider raw cacao to be the most nutritious form of chocolate.

    Unsweetened Chocolate is pure, unadulterated chocolate made from pure chocolate liquor from pure, ground, roasted chocolate beans (which impart a very strong, deep chocolate flavor). It’s basically just pure, unsweetened chocolate made from cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. It’s also called bitter chocolate or baking chocolate.

    Bittersweet Chocolate is unsweetened baking chocolate that contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions, and it often has the addition of vanilla and sometimes lecithin. It has less sugar and more liquor than semi-sweet chocolate, but the two (bitter chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate) are quite interchangeable for most baking needs.

    Sweet Chocolate is a combination of cocoa solid, cocoa butter of other fat, and sugar.

    Milk Chocolate is sweet chocolate with the addition of milk powder or condensed milk. It is the variety most used for eating (such as chocolate bars), but it is used less frequently in baking.

    Semi-sweet Chocolate is dark chocolate with a low sugar content.

    Dark Chocolate is made by adding fat and sugar to the cacao mixture and includes a 15% concentration of chocolate liquor.

    White Chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. Although it is similar in texture to milk and dark chocolate, white chocolate actually contains no cocoa solids and because of this, it is not classified as an actual chocolate product at all in many countries around the world. Because white chocolate contains no theobromine, it’s not toxic to most animals, unlike actual chocolate.

    If you are using chocolate with more than 60% or 70% cacao in a recipe not specifically designed for them, follow this general rule: use 25% to 35% less chocolate than called for in the recipe and add up to 1 1/2 teaspoons more granulated sugar for each ounce of chocolate in the original recipe.

    What’s the difference between regular cocoa powder and Dutch-processed cocoa?

    ~ Cocoa powder comes in two forms – natural and Dutch-processed. Natural cocoa powder has a red-brown color and is usually labeled simply unsweetened cocoa powder. Dutch-processed cocoa is much darker and has been treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity. Both taste bitter straight from the box, but the natural cocoa has a fruitier chocolate flavor while the Dutch-processed has a more mellow, milder flavor. Generally, you can substitute one type of cocoa powder for the other. But beware of substituting very black Dutched cocoa though, because it's highly alkaline and may interact with the baking soda, producing a "soapy" flavor.

    The website offers this additional tip for general baking needs. When a recipe calls for baking soda, it’s best to use non-Dutch cocoa powder. On the other hand, use Dutch-processed cocoa for recipes calling for baking powder. If there is no leavening agent, then either powdered cocoa type can be used.

    Cooking With Chocolate

    ~ Due to its delectable, sweet qualities, chocolate is primarily used in baking, to produce a plethora of delicious desserts such as candies, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, puddings/mousses, sauces, syrups, sweet beverages such as hot chocolate and cocoa, and a multitude of other delectably sweet treats. But chocolate can be used in savory dishes as well. For instance, in Mexico chocolate is added to the delicious Mole (sauce) which is used to accompany many beef and other dishes.

    Chocolate can be surprisingly fussy when it comes to melting. If the heat is too high, the chocolate will burn. And if even a few drops of water touch it, the chocolate will get stiff and grainy, a process known as seizing. Here are tips to help make melting go smoothly.

    Chopping the chocolate helps it to melt more quickly and evenly. Chop it quite finely if you are melting milk or white chocolate since they are most apt to scorch. You can chop dark chocolate into bigger, nut-size pieces.

    Indirect Heat - Melting chocolate in a pan directly on the heat is a recipe for scorching. Instead, you should melt chocolate in the top part of a double boiler, over hot–but not boiling—water. You can also put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl (such as stainless steel) and place it a shallow pan filled with hot water.

    Stirring the chocolate periodically to avoid scorching helps it to melt evenly. Make sure to use dry utensils so the chocolate does not seize.

    Trouble-shooting - If the chocolate begins to tighten or become lumpy during the melting process, add a small amount of solid vegetable shortening (not butter, margarine, oil, water or milk). Use 1 level tablespoon shortening for each 6 ounces of chocolate you are melting. (6 ounces is equal to 1 cup baking chips or 6 1-oz squares of baking chocolate.)

    Microwave - Place chocolate in microwave-safe container. Microwave at Medium (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at Medium heat for an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolate is melted and smooth when stirred.

    Nutrition and Health Benefits

    Considering the high sugar content of chocolate, it was thought that all chocolate products were unhealthy. But the world has been abuzz in the last few years with reports of health benefits of dark chocolate, and many chocolate manufacturers are now beginning to promote dark chocolate for its health benefits. For instance, several studies report that dark chocolate seems to possess substantial amounts of antioxidants, and antioxidants are important in reducing the formation of free radicals (which is essential in the regulation of many physiological processes such as vascular tone and blood pressure). Also, dark chocolate is also a rich source of epicatechin and gallic acid, which are thought to have cardio-protective properties. So dark chocolate consumed in moderate quantities can help to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

    ~ Cocoa beans are high in fat, sugar, and caffeine (though much less than coffee and tea). On the other hand, they’re quite rich in antioxidants, phenylethylamine, serotonine, and many essential minerals including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese, off of which are essential to good health. They’re also a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E, and pantothenic acid.

    Some people who purchase chocolate off the store shelf can be disappointed when they see whitish spots on the dark chocolate part. This is called chocolate bloom and is not an indication of chocolate gone bad. Rather, this is just an indication that sugar and/or fat has separated due to improper storage.

    …………….....................……………Tag Game ~ Chocolate

    We have selected a variety of chocolate recipes that you are free to tag in this month’s tag game. Or you can select any recipe from the site’s database as long as it has chocolate as an ingredient. And there is no limit. You can tag as many chocolate recipes as you can make and review before the end of the month.


    ~ Brazo De Gitano -- Rolled Sponge Cake (Spain) by Sydney Mike
    This delicious traditional Spanish cake is delicious treat for dessert, and packed with delectable chocolate flavor.

    ~ Spanish Hot Chocolate by Debbie R.
    Rich and thick, toasty warm and full of chocolate flavor — just like Spanish Hot Chocolate was meant to be.

    ~ Churros With Dipping Chocolate by LifeIsGood
    A traditional breakfast in Spain is the ever-popular Churros, and you’re going to love this delicious version dipped in chocolate.

    BEBIDAS (Beverages)

    Spanish Thick Hot Chocolate
    Honey & Almond Spanish Hot Chocolate
    Chocolate Caliente - Spanish Hot Chocolate Too
    Chocolate Caliente - Spanish Hot Chocolate
    Peanut Butter Cup
    Authentic Cafe' Con Leche (Coffee With Milk)

    DESAYUNO (Breakfast and Brunch)

    Everyday French Breakfast- Baguette and Jam With Chocolate Milk
    The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Muffins
    Churros / Fried Dough
    Chocolate Chunk Raspberry Muffins
    Jb's Classic Belgian Waffles (And Variations)


    Marshmallow Truffles
    Chocolate Truffles in a Flash
    Chocolate Pretzel Ring Candies
    Chocolate Cherry Brownie BONS BONS
    Creamy Chocolate Fudge
    Chocolate Yummies


    Chocolate-Covered Almond Cake
    Sex in a Pan
    Citrus Chocolate Cupcakes
    6 Layer Dreamy Chocolate Mousse Cake- Paula Deen
    Vanilla Marbled Pound Cake
    Feathery Fudge Cupcakes


    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
    Ultimate Brownies
    Chocolate Snowflake Cookies (Chocolate Crinkles / Crackles)
    Chocolate Cherry Cookies
    Cherry-Chocolate Blossoms
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Bars


    Choco Mallow Pie
    Cookie Dough Cheesecake
    Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie
    Chocolate Chip Pie (No Crust)
    Chocolate Silk Pie With Marshmallow Meringue
    Chocolate Chip Pie

    MAS POSTRES (More Chocolate Desserts)

    Coconut Mousse
    Chocolate & Olive Oil Mousse
    Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Cracked Black Pepper
    Chocolates Rusticos
    Pinchos De Frutas (Fruit Brochettes)
    Chocolate Rum Dessert

    Last edited by NorthwestGal on Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:30 pm, edited 2 times in total
    Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:22 am
    Forum Host

    Last edited by NorthwestGal on Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total
    Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:39 pm Groupie
    I would like to tag Black Forest Brownies, #142912. I have a lot on my plate (LOL) this month. If I have time, I would like to tag more. I will see. icon_confused.gif
    Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:52 pm Groupie
    WhatamIgonnaeatnext? wrote:
    I would like to tag Black Forest Brownies, #142912. I have a lot on my plate (LOL) this month. If I have time, I would like to tag more. I will see. icon_confused.gif

    I have made and reviewed the above recipe. Try this; it's really good!
    Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:26 pm
    Forum Host
    WhatamIgonnaeatnext? wrote:
    WhatamIgonnaeatnext? wrote:
    I would like to tag Black Forest Brownies, #142912. I have a lot on my plate (LOL) this month. If I have time, I would like to tag more. I will see. icon_confused.gif

    I have made and reviewed the above recipe. Try this; it's really good!

    That looks SOOOO good, WhatamIgonnaeatnext? Perfect for Valentine's Day!
    Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:25 am
    Forum Host
    I'm so glad whatamigoingtoeatnext made one of my recipes for this challenge! I might have missed the month of chocolate! I will peruse the recipes and come back!
    Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:02 am
    Forum Host
    Here are my chocolate recipes

    Cocoa and Hot Chocolate
    Cha Cha Chocolate!
    Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:52 pm
    Forum Host
    Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:26 pm
    Forum Host
    Sharon123 wrote:
    I'll make Almond Milk Hot Chocolate - Martha Stewart #511753.

    This has been made and enjoyed. icon_biggrin.gif
    Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:37 am Groupie
    NorthwestGal wrote:
    WhatamIgonnaeatnext? wrote:
    WhatamIgonnaeatnext? wrote:
    I would like to tag Black Forest Brownies, #142912. I have a lot on my plate (LOL) this month. If I have time, I would like to tag more. I will see. icon_confused.gif

    I have made and reviewed the above recipe. Try this; it's really good!

    That looks SOOOO good, WhatamIgonnaeatnext? Perfect for Valentine's Day!

    Yep, Northwest Gal, it was for a Valentine's Day banquet at church. There was a line for it. icon_cool.gif
    Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:54 am Groupie
    I am tagging Authentic Cafe' Con Leche (Coffee With Milk), #370545, posted by Debber. I am going to scale it down to 2 cups, though. Six cups would make me like this icon_evil.gif or like this icon_exclaim.gif icon_exclaim.gif icon_exclaim.gif . Seriously. icon_rolleyes.gif
    Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:03 pm Groupie
    WhatamIgonnaeatnext? wrote:
    I am tagging Authentic Cafe' Con Leche (Coffee With Milk), #370545, posted by Debber. I am going to scale it down to 2 cups, though. Six cups would make me like this icon_evil.gif or like this icon_exclaim.gif icon_exclaim.gif icon_exclaim.gif . Seriously. icon_rolleyes.gif

    I have made and reviewed the above recipe that was posted by Debber.

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