Dark chocolate (Recipe: chocolate-mango-kiwi wontons)
Ted and I agree on many things, but not on everything.
He likes books about King Arthur, a certain Montreal hockey team, watching Spanish-language broadcasts of soccer matches even though he doesn't speak Spanish, white-out snowstorms, and opera.
He also likes cilantro, cauliflower, tropical fruits, ham-and-cheese sandwiches, sweetened condensed milk, rutabaga, and fish served with the head on.
In fact, until it was too late, until I was years into our marriage, I didn't realize that we differ in another important way:
I am a milk chocolate girl married to a dark chocolate guy.
Dark chocolate is a bit difficult to define, starting with its name; it's also called bittersweet or semi-sweet or sometimes sweet-dark chocolate, which can be confusing.
Then there's the content: A cocoa pod contains cocoa butter and chocolate liquor (solids). Dark chocolate is the liquor, to which sweeteners and some amount of cocoa butter (but no milk solids) have been added.
According to US government standards, dark chocolate must contain at least 35% chocolate liquor. The best chocolates contain 60% or more chocolate solids, often 70% or more. The higher the percentage, the more deep the flavor, but the texture also becomes more dry and chalky. Taste a 90% dark chocolate, and you'll know right away that there's almost no cocoa butter in it.
Many studies have shown that dark chocolate is good for you. Eating two ounces (50 grams) a day of dark chocolate with a minimum content of 70% chocolate solids may help protect against heart disease and high blood pressure, though that protection comes at a high calorie cost.
Dark chocolate has a place in my pantry because it's the chocolate of choice for cooking and baking sweet and savory dishes such as dark chocolate brownies, borlotti bean mole, dark chocolate cherry chews, chocolate cheesecake, and Guinness beef stew.
Yes, it tastes wonderful, but is chocolate really the food of love?
Take a cue from Casanova, the most famous lover of all -- before every assignation, he drank a cup of hot cocoa. I don't know if he shared it with his lady-friends, but all the serotonin in the chocolate no doubt helped to elevate his mood!
Adapted from Gale Gand and the Food Network, these wontons are quick and easy to make, especially if you let your friends help with assembly. Fill them with dark, milk or sugar-free chocolate, and fruit of your choice (we used kiwi and mango, but you can try bananas, pears, apples -- or more chocolate). Make sure the wontons are well sealed, or the chocolate will ooze out while you're frying them. Figure on two wontons per person; make as many as you wish.
2 chocolate bars, broken into small squares or rectangles
4 wonton skins per person
1 mango or 2 kiwi fruits, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
4 cups vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar (cinnamon and granulated sugar mixed together), optional
1 pint vanilla frozen yogurt, optional
Leave the chocolate in a warm place to make it slightly pliable, or warm between your hands. Cut each bar into small chunks and, with your hands, try to form each chunk into a disk the size of a quarter with no sharp edges. Lay half the wonton skins out on a surface and, one at a time, paint the edges with water. In the center of the wonton skin, place a disk of chocolate and a fruit slice on top of the chocolate. Place another wonton on top, and press to seal tightly. Each wonton package should look like a ravioli. Cover with plastic wrap and store chilled until ready to fry and serve, up to 10 hours ahead.
Heat the oil in a wok or deep pot to 350°F. Drop the wontons into the oil, being careful not to crowd them (you may have to work in batches) and fry, turning often, until golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, place the cinnamon sugar in a bowl. Remove the wontons with a slotted spoon and immediately sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar to coat heavily. Serve right away with scoops of vanilla frozen yogurt.