Celebrate light CHOCOLATE desserts

An enthusiastic table setting was inspired by inviting supportive loved ones.
Additional care was given to no-bake, healthy and low caloric chocolate sweets.

Consequences from indulging through the Holidays are still physically lingering.
It seems like we were just at the holiday sweets table and here we are again.

The month of February screams chocolate treats…
especially for those that celebrate Valentine Day events.

Speaking of which, I've been meaning to shed perspective on this contentious event.
Small warning: for those who live for the Valentine's day event all year…
you may be better served to skip right through to the recipes.

For those who are maybe on the fence, you may want to keep reading.

The high expectations which this event unfortunately bestows on many…
in my opinion, needs to be sincerely revised.
There are too many unnecessary requirements from newly met companions as well as…
couples who have enjoyed much love and support through decades.
For some reason, this event brings people through a roller coast of…
sentiments that at times lay down a road to unavoidable disappointment. 

Valentine's day celebration success or failure will at times…
decide if relationships get the chance they deserve.

As a society we inadvertently go through several revolving doors.
We seem to no longer pause and go deeper to appreciate the person we are with.

Over the years and having witnessed frustrations and some break-ups…
I am of the philosophy of less expectation does reward in this case.

Loyalty, respect, support and loving moments through the year make up for any one day event.
I am so grateful that this maturity hit me sooner than later…
bringing me more joy than I could have ever realized.

Here, we sometimes celebrate collectively and not always necessarily on February 14th.
It really comes down to how we view love on a grander scale.
I do, however, absolutely enjoy decorating and setting the table which inspires my menu.

Hopefully, my thoughts on a over-commercialized day can be a game changer for some.
For others who don't agree, maybe we can still agree on our love of chocolate?

Starting from the top left corner and then clockwise:


Over the years, I've developed several slightly guiltless desserts highlighting chocolate.
The bonus is that they are no-bake, therefore, less fuss.

Any one of these creations have been enjoyed not only because of their delectable aspects…
they were mostly appreciated for their perfect chocolate finish to a generous meal.

Today, I'll share with you my latest chocolate delights that are not only less caloric…
they are heart healthy, light and may I say…scrumptious.

Indulge in as many bite size treats at the time. 

ChocoMallow Rum FUDGE
A lighter version in part due to eliminating the fat laden heavy cream. 
Evaporated milk completely succeeded in turning this confectionery into smooth and slightly guilt-free bliss.

yields 64 small cubes

(American measures)

. 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
. 2/3 cups evaporated milk (2%)
. 2 Tbsps. unsalted butter
. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
. 2 cups mini marshmallows 
. 9 oz. (1-1/2 cups) bittersweet 65-70% chocolate, chopped
. 3 Tbsps. dark Rum

Add-ins *
. 1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
. 1/4 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
. 1/4 cup raw almond slices
* Note: once the add-ins are prepared, reserve about 1/4 cup for the finishing garnish.

1. Lightly butter an 8x8 inch glass dish.  Place a parchment paper inside overlapping only two sides for easier removal.  Set aside.  Tip: add two clips to hold the paper in place.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat together the sugar, milk and butter on MEDIUM heat.  Continuously stir with a strong spatula.  When the first surface boil appears, keep stirring for 3 minutes.  Then, immediately remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chocolate and then followed by the marshmallows.  Keep stirring until all is melted. 
3. Add in the Rum one spoon at the time.  Stir until all is well combined.  Then, fold in the add-ins (except for the reserved garnish).
4. Pour the chocolate mix into the prepared dish.  Lightly smoothen the surface and quickly sprinkle the reserved garnish over top.
5. Let this cool at room temperature for about 1 hour.  Afterwards, it's best to leave it covered in the refrigerator for 24 hours for it to set properly.

. Serving:  With a knife pass it on the non-paper sides.  Then, grab the parchment on both sides and remove it from the dish.  Slice the edges in order to have a clean cut.   Afterwards, cut the square in the center.  Repeat the center cut on each side.  Rotate the square and do the same until you achieve 64 small cubes.
. Storage:  This sliced fudge is well preserved into a parchment paper and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  It can also be kept in the freezer (no thawing) for a treat anytime.


Maple syrup Kahlua Chocolate truffles
A lighter version in part due to eliminating the fat laden heavy cream. 
Evaporated milk completely succeeded in turning this confectionery into smooth and slightly guilt-free bliss.

yields about 24 chocolate truffles

(American / Metric measures)

Chocolate Ganache:
. 1/2 cup (125ml) Evaporated milk 2%
. 12 oz. (350g) bittersweet (65-70%) Chocolate, coarsely chopped
. 1/4 cup (60ml) Maple syrup
. 2 Tbsps. (30ml) Kahlua liquor (or 2 tsps. Vanilla extract)
. pinch of sea salt
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) confectioners' sugar

Coating suggestions:
cocoa powder
icing sugar
coconut, shredded
nuts, roasted and coarsely chopped
candy: sprinkles and sparkles

1. In a small saucepan and over a LOW-MEDIUM heat, warm the milk until a light surface boil is reached.  Stir once and a while. 
2. Close the heat to then immediately add in the chocolate and stir until melted. 
3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Maple syrup, liquor, salt and confectioners' sugar. 
4. Pour the chocolate mix into a heat-proof bowl.   After 10 minutes, place a plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mix with a tiny side opening. Place into the refrigerator for a few hours (minimum 4 hours) or until firm.
5. Prepare a parchment lined pan as well as your choice of coating(s) within a bowl or several bowls.
6. With the aid of a mini melon ball (#60) scoop, shape small balls of Ganache and place them temporarily onto a parchment paper.  Then, generously roll them into the coating(s)
. Store them into a container and refrigerate.  Remove them about 10 minutes before serving.  They'll preserve their quality for up to 10 days refrigerated or up to 1 month in the freezer.

. Alcohol infused truffles:
Add 2 Tbsps. (30ml) of your favourite 'premium' LIQUOR: i.e. Amaretto, Bailey's Irish cream, Brandy, Cognac, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Rum, Whiskey etc...
. Spiced truffles:
Add a generous pinch of SPICE(s): i.e. Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Cardamom etc...
. Nut truffles: Add 1/2 cup (40g) coarsely chopped, lightly toasted nuts to the melted Ganache before adding the extract or liquor.
. Coffee truffles: Decrease vanilla and stir in 1 tsp.(5ml) good quality instant coffee OR just put 1 Tbsp. (15ml) Coffee liquor.


Lastly…if either time or lack of enthusiasm hits you…
maybe, a quick, comforting beverage will warm your heart as well as delight your tummy.  

Mocha Maple Coconut milk hot beverage
optional spike of liquor with marshmallow garnish

Serves 2 persons

(American / Metric measures)

. heaping 1 Tbsp. (5g) Dutch-processed Cocoa powder
. 3/4 cup (175ml) water
. 1/2 cup (125ml) Coconut cream milk
. 1/4 cup (60ml) brewed Espresso coffee
. 2 Tbsps. (30ml) Maple syrup
. 2 Tbsps. (30ml) liquor * of choice (optional)
. 2 small handfuls of mini marshmallows

* Note: if using a sweet liquor, make sure to adjust down the amount of Maple syrup used.

1. In a medium-small saucepan, gradually whisk together the cocoa powder and a little portion of the milk at first to make a smooth paste.  Then, again pour the remaining milk as well as the water.   Continue whisking to a smooth consistency.  Lastly, add in the coffee. 
2. Place the pot onto MEDIUM heat until a hot temperature is reached.  Add in the Maple syrup as well as the optional liquor.  Close heat.
3. Immediately pour the hot beverage on top of a small handful of mini marshmallows.  Serve immediately.

. Add 1 medium cinnamon stick or a few cardamom pods.  Add the spice into the liquid preparation about 15 minutes before putting the pot on the heat.  Continue with the instructions as mentioned above.  Then, just before adding in the Maple syrup and optional liquor, remove the spice. 

Valentine's day has become less of a romantic scenario and...
slowly replaced by a celebration to be grateful for our close circle of loved ones.

Let's all enjoy the gift of chocolate in all its forms.  
May you have a chance to share your creations with others or just simply indulge on your own.  
No matter…this time you'll feel a little less guilty with...
your newly found chocolate pleasures…I know, I will. ;o)

Flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at:  foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)

. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.