Rejoice! It's Bittersweet Chocolate day

January 10, 2013 1:22:13 PM PST
You might not know it, but today is National Bittersweet Chocolate Day. Here are 6 delicious bits you might not have known about it.

1. Bittersweet chocolate might improve your brainpower: A recent study found through MRIs that eating flavanol-rich cocoa increased blood flow to the subject's brain. That could help fight cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease.

2. There are strict rules for "Bittersweet Chocolate": Uncle Sam gets a say in just about everything, and that includes gradation of chocolate. However, there's no rule about how much sugar manufacturers can put into bittersweet chocolate. So you might have to try several different brands to find the one that tastes best to you. Darn.

3. Eating chocolate with cocoa butter is better: While flavanoids are good, eating bittersweet chocolate that has some cocoa butter in it is even better. Cocoa butter's benefits come from oleic acid. It's good for you because it's an unsaturated fat... the same one found in olive oil.

4. It's always "bean" a math thing: If you do the math, a very dark chocolate bar (with about 70% Cacao) uses about 20 or so beans, which works to about 1/2 of a Cacao fruit. By comparison, a Hershey's chocolate bar, for example, would use about 6 Cacao beans... or roughly 1/10 of the supply in a single Cacao fruit.

5. Chocolate was once treated as medicine: At one point in time, powdered cacao beans were roasted and used to treat ailments even as severe as kidney stones by ancient tribes in Central America.

6. Unusual bittersweet chocolate recipes: Many cooks recommend putting bittersweet chocolate in places you weren't expecting. They include a chili recipe by Michael Chiarello of the Food Network, Dark Chocolate Macarons with Bittersweet Ancho Chili Ganache, and Pepper-Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Chocolate-Port Sauce.