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Life: Why chocolate is HOT.

Chocomania isn't a recognised medical condition. But maybe it should be.

Most of us can't go through the day without succumbing to the lure of the office chocolate machine, or the cheekily-placed bars at the supermarket counter.

It's been maligned as a `bad' food but can something that tastes so good really be so bad for you? And anyway, the seductive richness of chocolate is infiltrating our homes and wardrobes with designers a-go-go delighting in its comforting glow.

Self-taught chef Trish Deseine has just published a wonderful book in praise of chocolate inviting us to be more adventurous with our daily bars than biting the chocolate from around the corner of a Kit Kat. It features mouth-watering photography by Marie-Pierre Morel.

Trish says, ``In reaction to chocomania, I wanted to put chocolate back in what, to my mind, is its rightful place; somewhere between sensuality, nostalgia, emotion and sheer greed.''

She adds, ``I promise that all the recipes are really very easy to make. If a self-taught, lazy, impatient and disorganised cook like me can manage it, for you it'll be a piece of cake.''

And just think how much fun you'll get licking out the mixing bowl too!


WM Yumm! rating: A rich fix of chocolate

With two types of chocolate chip plus cocoa powder, this recipe doesn't skimp on chocolate taste. The savoury flavour of the peanuts creates a wonderful contrast. These very rich cookies really are better if made very small.

Makes about 36 cookies Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes Two baking sheets greaseproof paper or a silicone mat and two mixing bowls The cookies 120g (4oz) dark chocolate 120g (4oz) salted butter 300g (11oz) sugar 3 eggs, beaten 120g (4oz) flour 11/2 teaspoons baking powder 120g (4oz) cocoa powder 120g (4oz) milk chocolate, cut into pieces measuring about 1cm (1/2 inch) The filling 150g (5oz) peanut butter 50g (2oz) icing sugar Preheat the oven to 160C (325F), Gas Mark 3. Melt the dark chocolate with the butter in a microwave oven or bain-marie. Leave to cool, then add the sugar, followed by the eggs. Add the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Stir well, then incorporate the milk chocolate pieces.

Take a teaspoonful of the mixture and rub it between the palms of the hand to form a small ball, then place on the baking sheet and press down lightly.

Repeat the operation, leaving about 5cm (2 inches) between the cookies, then bake for 12-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Mix together the peanut butter and icing sugar.

Spread on one cookie, then top with a second cookie, lightly pressing them together so they do not fall apart.

Serve with coffee or as a dessert with some vanilla ice cream.


WM Yumm! rating: Unbelievably good Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: one hour Chilling time: two hours

One electric mixer, one large mixing bowl one silicone mat or greaseproof paper, one baking sheet and two mixing bowls

For the meringue:

Eight egg whites 300g (11oz) soft brown sugar Three tablespoons cocoa powder One teaspoon red wine vinegar

For the filling:

300ml (11fl oz) whipping cream Two tablespoons mascarpone cheese

(optional) Juice of five passion fruits Juice and rind of one lime Two tablespoons sugar Preheat the oven to 150C (300F), Gas Mark 2. Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks with half the sugar, then gradually add the remaining sugar, beating constantly. Add the cocoa powder and vinegar, beating very gently until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the meringue on to the silicone mat or greaseproof paper in the shape of a ring.

Cook for one hour, then turn off the heat and leave to cool completely in the oven.

Whip the cream with the mascarpone (if using), then add the passion fruit juice, the juice and grated rind of the lime and the sugar. Spoon the cream mixture into the centre of the meringue. Chill in a refrigerator until you are ready to serve.


WM Yumm! rating: Dinner party impressive

In Britain and the United States, banoffee is so popular that it has reached tiramisu heights of banality.

The reason for this extraordinary success? The unique flavour combination of its ingredients: bananas with caramel on a biscuit crumb base with a pinch of salt. All it needed was a bit of chocolate.

Serves six

Preparation time: two hours for the caramel, 20 minutes for the rest

Chilling time: two hours

Six stainless steel circles, 8cm (3 inches) in diameter. One saucepan . Two mixing bowls .One electric mixer.Six plates.One tin sweetened condensed milk One packet digestive biscuits 50g (2oz) salted butter Three bananas, sliced Juice of one lemon 200g (7oz) milk chocolate Whipping cream to serve Make a small hole in the tin of condensed milk, place it in a pan of simmering water, and leave to simmer over low heat for two hours.

Remove the tin from the pan and leave to cool. Crush the biscuits. Melt the butter and combine with the crushed biscuits.

Place one stainless steel circle on each plate, then press the mixture into the base of each circle. Leave to cool.

Toss the sliced bananas in the lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown, and arrange them on the biscuit crumb bases.

Pour the caramelized milk over the bananas. Melt the chocolate in a microwave oven or bain-marie. Pour the chocolate over the caramel and leave to chill and set in a refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Just before serving, whip the cream, then carefully remove the stainless steel circles by gently pressing down on the chocolate discs.

Decorate with a little whipped cream and leave the banoffee to settle and ooze out deliciously on each plate.


WM Yumm! rating: Chocolate heaven

NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TOP BRITISH MODEL ... She wasn't even a twinkle in her father's eye when they were invented. So why Naomi? Beats me. I often include these little cakes cut into small squares in an ``all chocolate'' selection for dessert.

Serves 8-10

Preparation time: 20 minutes Chilling time: 2 hours in total

One medium mixing bowl, which you can wash while each layer is cooling. One Swiss roll tin or one rectangular gratin dish. One electric mixer First layer 100g (4oz) plain chocolate 100g (4oz) unsalted butter 50g (2oz) sugar One egg, beaten Three teaspoons cocoa powder 250g (9oz) biscuits, crushed (digestive, for example) 50g (2oz) grated coconut 50g (2oz) walnuts, chopped (or pecan nuts)

Second layer 50g (2oz) unsalted butter, softened 250g (9oz) icing sugar Three tablespoons custard powder Three/four tablespoons water

Third layer 50g (2oz) unsalted butter, softened 80g (3oz) dark chocolate 50g (2oz) icing sugar For the first layer, melt the chocolate, butter and sugar in a microwave oven or bain-marie. Add the beaten egg and heat gently, but do not allow to boil. Remove from the heat and incorporate the remaining ingredients.

Transfer this mixture to a Swiss roll tin or a gratin dish and spread out into a layer about 1cm ( inch) thick. Place in a refrigerator for one hou r.

Using an electric mixer, beat together all the ingredients for the second layer until the mixture is smooth. Spread this mixture over the first layer once it has chilled and return to the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

For the third layer, slowly melt the butter and chocolate in a microwave oven or bain-marie.

Combine with the icing sugar and spread over the first two layers once they have chilled. Place in a refrigerator for about 1 hour before cutting into squares and tucking in.

Chocolate by Trish Deseine with photography by Marie-Pierre Morel is published by Hachette Illustrated priced pounds 12.99

How long will it take to burn off that bar of chocolate?

It's either 11am or 4pm and it's the time when you start craving for that chocolate pick-me-up.

Is that really so bad? Well, chocolate itself is not bad. Eating it will not adversely affect your health or put you at risk for any diseases or health problems. While it is rich in calories and saturated fat, moderate chocolate intake can be part of a healthy diet. What this means is that if your diet is healthy and well-balanced, eating a little chocolate occasionally is not a bad thing to do.

WM raided the office chocolate machine to see just how calorific our favourite treats are. And we've (scarily) worked out just how long we'd have to spend at the gym to burn off those delicious calories.

Dairy Milk -180 calories. (Or running 10-minute-miles for 22 minutes) Flake -180 calories. (Or swimming front crawl for 23 minutes) Snickers Bar -323 per bar calories (or vigorous house cleaning for 61 minutes) Twix -287 calories (Or skipping with a rope for 44 minutes) Mars -281 calories (Or high-impact aerobics for 40 minutes) Kit Kat -250 calories (Or indoor rowing for 33 minutes)

The A-list chocoholics

Celebs -they're just like us. They've got a sweet tooth (or five) too.

John Travolta: ``I probably have some sort of chocolate five times a week. There's definitely a change it does to the chemistry of the body. I live for it.'' Sandra Bullock: ``Chocolate is the greatest gift to women ever created, next to the likes of Paul Newman and Gene Kelly.''

Jodie Foster: ``I don't eat it, because otherwise I remember how much I love it, and I'd eat it every day.''

Ashley Judd: ``I love chocolate pudding. It's my favourite thing.'' Sharon Stone: ``I'm a chocolate fiend, but only dark chocolate.'' Michelle Pfeiffer: ``I'm not a big sweets person. But I'm a chocolate person.''

Mel Gibson: ``I think I've scratched the surface after 20 years of marriage. Women want chocolate and conversation.''
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 29, 2003
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