50 Shades of Cacao: Your New Valentine

Make Valentine's Day delicious and decadent with our cacoa sweets for your sweetie.

At first glance, cocoa powder and raw cacao powder might look the same, but get a bit closer and they’re anything but. Once you get to know antioxidant-powerhouse cacao powder, you realize it’s the real deal: Made from cold-pressed raw cacao beans, it is thought that the vitamins and minerals stay intact.

Meanwhile, cocoa powder is produced from raw cacao beans that have been roasted at high temperatures and then ground, reducing all those naturally occurring health benefits. This Valentine’s Day, make your sweetie swoon when you serve up these decadent cacao-packed recipes for everything from gooey truffles to spicy hot chocolate.

Raspberry-Rye Chocolate Truffles (pictured above)

Makes about 28

Ingredients:

1 pound dark chocolate, chopped

5 tablespoons food-grade raw cacao butter

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons unflavored coconut butter

2 tablespoons maca powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

1/2 cup boiling water

1/4 cup raspberry jam, heated and strained

1 tablespoon rye whiskey, optional

Cacao powder, for coating

Directions:

Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Melt together the chocolate, cacao butter, unsalted butter, coconut butter, maca powder and salt in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla; transfer to a blender or food processor.

Place the egg yolks in a bowl and, whisking constantly, gradually pour in the boiling water. Pour the yolk mixture through a sieve into the chocolate mixture and blend until smooth. Blend in the raspberry jam and whiskey, if using. Transfer to the prepared pan, spreading evenly, and let set, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Place the cacao powder in a small bowl. Remove the truffles from the pan and, using a small heart cutter, cut into hearts. Place in the cacao powder and toss to coat. Store at room temperature in an airtight container or refrigerate.

Superfood-Spiced Hot Chocolate

Makes 2

Ingredients:

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

2 tablespoons maca powder

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Pinch salt

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the cacao powder, maca powder, coconut sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne and salt.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until simmering, about 4 minutes. Place 2 tablespoons cacao mix in 2 mugs. Divide the hot milk between the mugs; stir to combine.

Cherry Cordials Chocolate Molten Cake

Makes 4

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter or softened coconut oil, at room temperature, plus more for greasing

Raw cacao powder, for dusting

1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped

2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 cup cherry preserves

12 maraschino cherries plus 2 tablespoons maraschino cherry syrup

2 tablespoons bourbon, optional

Directions:

Grease four 1-cup Pyrex bowls and dust generously with the cacao powder. In a double boiler over low heat, melt together the 4 tablespoons butter and chocolate.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Beat together the eggs, yolks and sugar until fluffy. Whisking, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour. Divide among the prepared bowls and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or overnight. Bake until almost set but still loose in the centers, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the preserves and maraschino cherry syrup to a boil; let thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon, if using. To serve, top each cake with some cherry sauce and 3 cherries.

Hazelnut Praline-Swirled Chocolate Fudge

Makes 36

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cacao powder

1 cup melted food-grade raw cacao butter

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Salt

1/4 cup finely ground hazelnut butter

Directions:

Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a high-speed blender, combine the cacao powder, cacao butter, 1 cup maple syrup, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer the cacao powder mixture to the prepared pan, spreading evenly; refrigerate until starting to set, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a high-speed blender, combine the hazelnut butter, remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup, remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until a squeezable consistency forms.

Place in a resealable plastic bag and snip 1/4 inch off a corner; squeeze parallel lines onto the filling and, using a knife, draw perpendicular lines, alternating directions to create a swirl pattern. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

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