Chocolate IS good for you! The facts…


“A balanced diet is chocolate in both hands…”

chocolate cake

I love chocolate. Especially in a cake and my favourite treat is Death by Chocolate – a rich delicious sponge layered in rich chocolate ganache. The cake has history and the tale goes that in 1981 a pastry chef in a Santa Monica restaurant called Les Anges, invented a chocolate cake which he called “La Mort au Chocolat.” It consisted of layers of mousse, ganache, meringue and chocolate genoise – covered in a crème anglaise and the expression, Death by Chocolate, was born.

Why do we love chocolate so much?

Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get…”

From the movie Forest Gump

The average Briton eats more than 10kg of chocolate each year. The reason why we so addicted to this substance could lie in the fact that chocolate contains chemicals called opioids which are also found in opium. Opioids give a feeling of well-being and studies show that chocolate eaters produce natural opiates in their brains that soothe the nerves and make you feel good.

What’s in it and is it good for you?

“Anything is good, if it’s made of chocolate…” Jo Brand

Chocolate is a natural product, made with cocoa beans, cocoa butter, sugar, lecithin, vanilla and milk. Research* suggests that chocolate is good for your brain. The cocoa in chocolate contains flavanol, an antioxidant found in plants and people given cocoa with high levels of flavanols were seen to have better blood flow in the brain area associated with memory. They performed memory tests comparable with people two to three decades younger. Chocolate has also been found to reduce blood pressure and the risk of strokes.

Would you replace your hunk with a chunk?

“Man cannot live by chocolate alone, but a woman sure can.” Author unknown

Chocolate contains a brain-active chemical called phenylethylamine, thought to stimulate a sensation comparable to falling in love and magnesium in chocolate can increase sexual energy.

Is chocolate deadly?

Chocolate is a perfect vehicle for concealing the taste of poison and history shows that many an unsuspecting soul has met their fate this way. In 1870 Christiana Edmunds bought chocolate creams from a sweetshop in Brighton then laced them with poison. Unsuspected, she returned the contaminated chocolates to the shop and sadly, a child died before her evil deeds were discovered.

Does chocolate make you fat?

There are 270 calories in a 50g bar and for many would barely register on their chocolate scale. Inevitably, frequent chocolate binges are certainly going to pile on the pounds but in moderation shouldn’t increase your weight.

Why is dark chocolate better for you?

Dark chocolate contains the least sugar and is therefore better than milk or white chocolate. Choose dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids, which is the healthiest. It also contains soluable fibre and lots of minerals.

Does a bar a day keep the doctor away?

Chocolate dates back to the time of the Aztecs who thought it was an aphrodisiac and ate chocolate regularly to increase wisdom and boost energy levels (they also used it as a form of currency). The British Medical Journal suggests that 100g of dark chocolate incorporated into a healthy daily diet could cut the risk of heart disease by up to 75% which could increase life expectancy.

It can make you feel good…

“Chocolate is cheaper than therapy and you don’t need an appointment.”

Catherine Aitken

Chocolate increases levels of certain mood-altering chemicals in the brain which can lift your mood and give a feeling of euphoria. For many, chocolate is an indulgence – to be eaten without guilt. It is a substance that melts at body temperature and once in the mouth produces a delicious, silky and sensuous texture to be savoured and enjoyed.

Bring me sunshine – with my chocolate!

Here’s a perfect excuse to top up your chocolate intake in the weeks before a holiday: Dark chocolate may protect your skin against the sun. The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage as they increase hydration, skin density and improve blood flow.

Favourite recipe

What’s yours? For me, there is nothing nicer than a slice of really good chocolate cake and my favourite recipe is below. Chocolate is a treat, as is cake and on special occasions I can be found in the kitchen preparing a chocolate delicacy. Could I live without it? Yes, but life is for living and loving and if one of your loves is chocolate, I’d say combine it with your living and enjoy!

“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”

Lucy Van Pelt in Peanuts by Charles M Schulz

Caroline’s Death by Chocolate Cake

chocolate cake

This chocolate cake is moist and very fudgy and best of all, really easy to make!


200g dark chocolate

200g dark brown sugar

200g caster sugar

25g cocoa powder

200g butter

85g self-raising flour

85g plain flour

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 large eggs

75ml milk


200g dark chocolate

284ml double cream


Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin and preheat the oven to 140C/ 160C/ Gas 3.

Place butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl above a pan of simmering water and melt, stirring gently.

Mix flours, bicarbonate of soda, sugars and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Beat eggs and milk. Pour melted chocolate and butter and add egg mixture to the flour until thoroughly mixed. Spoon cake mix into cake tin and bake for 90 minutes (or until the top feels firm). Leave the cake to cool then turn out. When cold, slice the cake across into three layers.

Make the Ganache:

Lightly whip the cream until it just begins to stiffen. Melt the chocolate as before then combine with the cream mix, working quickly. Spread over cake layers and re-assemble, spreading remainder of ganache over the top and sides of the cake.

Decorate with chocolate curls or decoration of your choice.

Store the cake in a cool environment, in an airtight container, for up to three days.



*Study published in NatureNeuroscience


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