Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and minerals such as magnesium, zinc and iron, and has been shown to have many health benefits. Studies show that chocolate can help reduce inflammation in the body and it’s a mood booster too! There are many good quality brands of chocolate on the market, but be sure to use chocolate containing between 65 and 80 percent cacao.
Most professional chocolate is “tempered”, which is the process of melting, cooling and then reheating the chocolate. This ensures a shiny finish, a firm bite and a longer shelf life. This process takes time and a bit of skill. These cups don’t require tempering but see below for instructions if you want to give it a try. Chocolate that is not tempered can bloom, or turn a little gray, but the bloom will not affect the taste. Let the melted chocolate set at room temperature, and then refrigerate it or freeze it to let it harden. Please let these cups come back to room temperature before biting into one as they will be quite hard! I sprinkled seeds, nuts and cocoa nibs on my cups with some dried tart cherries and coconut flakes, as well. You can use a combination of your favorite toppings or get creative and perhaps try goji berries or pomegranate seeds.
- 16 ounces good quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate Ghirardelli, Guittard and Callebaut brands are my favorites
- 1/4 cup dried chopped fruit Dried dark cherries and apricots
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted nuts Pistachios, pecans and cashews
- 2 tablespoons seeds Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
- Sprinkling of dried coconut flakes
- [How to TEMPER chocolate: 1) gently heat 3/4 of the chocolate in a double boiler, so that it melts. Using a candy thermometer make sure the chocolate doesn't go above 118 degrees F. 2) Stir in the portion of unmelted chocolate into the melted chocolate, this will cool the mixture. 3) Then bring the temperature back up to between 88-90 degrees F and all the chocolate crystals will come together.]
- Line 10 muffin cups with paper liners. Combine the toppings together in a bowl and mix to combine. To melt the chocolate, heat 2 inches of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cover the pot with a large heatproof metal or glass bowl. Make sure the bowl is dry and the water is not touching the bottom of the pan. Moisture will cause the chocolate to "seize" and you'll have to start over. Place the chopped chocolate in the bowl and lower the heat to low. Use a rubber spatula to stir the chocolate until it's completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat. Another option is to place the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high for 20-30 seconds. Stir with a rubber spatula. Continue to heat carefully until the chocolate is just melted. Stir until it’s completely smooth and shiny.
- Pour the melted chocolate into the paper-lined cupcake trays, about a little more than half full. Sprinkle the toppings evenly over the chocolate and press lightly to set into the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Refrigerating or freezing the cups will help it set up. Bring to room temperature before eating.