If you were to join my family for dinner on a regular weeknight (go for it, but call first!), you’d see our typical dessert routine in action.
It works like this: My husband grabs my favourite tiny bamboo cutting board and a paring knife while I grab a variety of fruit. Then we sit with our four daughters, chatting about our days ‚Äî sometimes enjoying an impromptu dance show from one or more of the girls ‚Äî as we pass wedges of pears or whatever around the table. It’s sacred family time.
But... Sometimes a girl needs a serious dessert. And by serious, I mean chocolate.
Yes, I’ll sometimes satisfy this need by nibbling on a square of dark chocolate with my decaf espresso. That’s fine. But for truly special occasions I whip up little edible chocolate bowls. They take just minutes to make using chocolate chips, and you can fill them with berries, your favourite fruit, or anything else you want. These little bowls are fun enough to make for kids’ sleepovers, yet elegant enough to serve at a dinner party.
I love buying the darkest chocolate chips I can find (usually 60 per cent) because I love the almost-bitter flavour of darker chocolate. Plus, it is healthier.
Once you master the (simple) technique of making these chocolate baskets, you can easily customize them, adding cinnamon, cayenne, rosemary, chunky sea salt, flecks of orange zest, whatever your imagination desires. I usually fill my bowls with berries or in-season fruit (try lightly sauteed pears), but feel free to treat them like super tasty tart crusts and build even more decadent desserts in them.
DARK CHOCOLATE BERRY BASKETS
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted almonds
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (white, if you have it)
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
Ground black pepper
2 cups halved or quartered fresh strawberries (or other berries or orange segments, membranes and seeds removed)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
In a large glass or other microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate and coconut oil. Microwave on 50 per cent power, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth, about 3 minutes.
Spread a few spoons of the melted chocolate into a silicone cupcake liner, using the back of the spoon to spread the chocolate up the side of the liner so it is evenly and thickly coated. Sprinkle the wet chocolate with a teaspoon of almonds and a tiny pinch of kosher salt. Repeat with 7 more liners. Chill the chocolate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the vinegar, brown sugar and a pinch of pepper. Add the strawberries and toss to coat. Let sit to allow flavours to meld for at least 15 minutes, or up to a few hours. Immediately before serving, stir the mint into the strawberries, remove the chocolate baskets from the moulds and spoon in the berries.
Nutrition information per serving: 170 calories; 90 calories from fat (53 per cent of total calories); 10 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 40 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 20 g sugar; 3 g protein.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” http://www.melissadarabian.net