When I was little, I used to love Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate. Sometimes my mom would bring home a bag of the miniature candies and I’d sift through the milk chocolate, Krackel, and Mr. Goodbar, looking for the gold foil of the Special Dark. If that description seems oddly detailed, maybe I still used to eat Special Darks out of the candy dishes of coworkers when I was older. (I’m not confessing.)
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’m reminded that not all chocolate is created equal. Maybe you’ve heard that chocolate is good for you. Well, it depends (mostly on how much you eat). Sweet milk chocolate loaded with sugar? Not good. Bitter dark chocolate with 70% or higher cacao? Not bad! (And Special Dark does not qualify!)
Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, it is the perfect excuse to enjoy some good chocolate – as in good for you chocolate. I adore the following recipe from herbalist Rosalee de la Forét. Every time I serve it I am asked for the recipe – after people take a bite. Telling them that it is flourless, sugar-free, and dairy-free usually elicits groans or eye rolls. But this recipe for cardamom chocolate mousse cake is as heavenly as any sinful dessert you’d find in an upscale restaurant. And with the beneficial herbs cacao and cardamom, you don’t have to feel guilty about eating a healthy slice (pun-intended).
A little about the herbs in this recipe:
Cacao. Chocolate is made from the cacao plant. Cacao is a bitter herb that is high in flavanols and antioxidants, which help protect against heart disease. Most chocolate candy that Americans eat has been processed, eliminating the bitter flavor, and the healthy benefits along with it. In this recipe, you’ll make your own good for you chocolate with cacao butter and cacao powder.
Cardamom. Cardamom is a highly aromatic spice used since at least the 4th Century BCE to treat a wide variety of health issues, from bronchitis and asthma to digestive issues to cardiovascular disease. Research into this spice has confirmed its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (And it’s a great breath freshener!)
Cardamom Chocolate Mousse Cake
130 grams cacao butter
90 grams sifted cacao powder (plus a bit more for decoration)
4 tablespoons honey (or to taste)
13.5 oz can coconut milk
1-1 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (original recipe calls for 1 Tbsp., but that was WAY too much for me – and I’m a cardamomophile)
Sliced almonds (optional)
- Over a double boiler, melt the cacao butter.
- Remove from the heat and add the cacao powder. Mix well.
- Add the honey, coconut milk, cardamom and eggs. Mix well.
- Pour into a slightly oiled pie pan.
- Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When it is done, the top should be cracked but the middle should still be soft and wiggly.
- Cool overnight to allow it to set.
- Sprinkle with cacao powder and sliced almonds before serving, if desired. (Other garnishments could include raspberries or mint, depending on your spice of choice.)
NOTE: With the weather still chilly, it’s not the best idea to eat cold food right out of the fridge. It’s important to refrigerate the cake so that it sets. But if you’re not opposed to a quick nuke in the microwave, I’ve found that about 15 seconds makes the cake reminiscent of those heavenly lava cakes. I’m lovin’ mine warm and slightly oozy!