What if I told you there was a delicious dessert involving chocolate, cream, fruit and nuts and that it could actually be good for you?
Yes, you heard right. David Gauvin, long time chef at Addison Gilbert Hospital and Pete McGahey, Executive Chef at Beverley Hospital show us how to make a chocolate fondue with fruit and nuts that is high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Sure, this isn't one for calorie counters, but if your focus is on eating a healthy, balanced diet then this is one for you. "What we're trying to show you today" says Gauvin, "is that working with chocolate is, number one, easy, and number two, can be very healthful".
Gauvin and McGahey use a dark chocolate with 86% cacao. This means, explains Gauvin, that "it's got less cocoa butter which is where the saturated fat is and the higher the percentage of cacao the greater the antioxidants". They roughly chop the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler - this doesn't require fancy equipment, you simply need a stainless steel or temperate glass bowl to place over a saucepan of boiling water.
Why do you need to use a double boiler? McGahey explains that it keeps the chocolate from scorching; "if it's on direct heat you run the risk of it burning a little bit and once you get a little bit of burn in there it's going to go all the way through and you get an awful, awful taste." For the same reason it is important to continually stir the chocolate as it is melting and this also stops it from getting clumpy.
While McGahey is stirring the chocolate, Gauvin prepares the fruit and nuts. He peels and cores some pineapple and cuts it into batons, peels some bananas and cuts them into three pieces and rinses some strawberries. For the nuts - almonds, peanuts and pecans - he simply pulses each separately in a food processor. If you are preparing this dish on your own, it is best to prepare the fruit before you start on the chocolate.
To the melted chocolate, McGahey adds one and a quarter cups of freshly brewed coffee, stirring continually as he pours it in. When the mixture has come together he adds some cream, again slowly and whilst continually stirring to incorporate it fully. "That looks like a nice velvety consistency you've got there" says Gauvin. "That's exactly what we're looking for" McGahey replies.
When the chocolate is ready, McGahey takes it off the heat and they "dip the fruit into the chocolate and then roll it right in the nuts" explains McGahey. As Gauvin says, "I think the whole fun of fondue is that you serve yourself."
McGahey takes a bite and sums it up; "You get the healthy fat from the nuts, the antioxidant powers of the cocoa, deliciousness of the fruit. It's a perfect match" he says. "Healthy ingredients, healthy living" says Gauvin.
12 ounces of dark chocolate (chips or roughly chopped; about 86% cacao recommended)
1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
8 ounces of heavy cream
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup pecans
Dipping fruits such as strawberries, banana pieces cut into 1-inch chunks, dried apricots, candied ginger, and apple pieces
1. Place mixing bowl over pan of boiling water.
2. Place chocolate bits into mixing bowl, stirring until melted.
3. Add coffee and then cream, blending into the chocolate mixture.
4. Crush nuts in a small food processor.
5. Cut fruits to proper sizes. Peel and core pineapple and slice into thin strips, about 1/2 inch thick. Peel banana and cut into about 3 equal pieces.
6. Place fruit pieces onto skewers dip into chocolate first and then roll onto the nut pieces.
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Recipe courtesy of Chefs Pete McGahey of Beverly Hospital and David Gauvin of Addison Gilbert Hospital, 2012.