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It’s World Chocolate Day and we’re celebrating chocolate’s mood enhancing effects

Did you know that consuming and even smelling chocolate has mood elevating effects?

If you’ve ever experienced a chocolate craving, you are not alone. They happen to the best of us. And the cause? It is likely to be attributed to the confectionary’s mood enhancing benefits. In fact, cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is what is responsible for releasing feel good hormones like dopamine and serotonin. And in order to enjoy the joy filled effects of eating chocolate, one only needs to consume a few grams.

Scientists report that dark chocolate - in particular 70% to 85% chocolate - improves mood when consumed daily. Smelling chocolate scents also helps to relieve stress and reduce anxiety whether it is done before enjoying a chocolate dessert or using chocolate scented lotions and beauty products.

To celebrate chocolate’s mood enhancing effects, Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront Executive Sous Chef, Bianca Beukes has put together an uplifting recipe for delicious Chocolate Cremeux Brownies to make at home.

Image: Unsplash

Chocolate Crémeux Brownies:

Serves 10 – 12 People

For the chocolate brownies :

2 eggs

175g caster sugar

240g 64% dark chocolate

150g unsalted butter, melted

seeds from 1 vanilla pod

20g cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

60g plain flour

100g hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and finely chopped [I used macadamias]

100g 71% dark bitter chocolate finely chopped

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale. Put the 64% dark chocolate in a large bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla, and then fold in the egg mixture. Sift together the cocoa powder, baking powder, flour, and fold them into the eggs and butter mix. Add the nuts and chopped chocolate then transfer the mixture to a greased and lined 12 x 36 x 4cm baking tray and place in an oven preheated to 180’C. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until just cooked but still a little soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while you make the chocolate cream.

For the chocolate cream :

400ml double cream

400ml milk

140g egg yolks (about 4)

100g caster sugar

500g 71% dark chocolate, chopped

Bring the cream and milk to the boil in a heavy-based saucepan, and then remove from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together, and then pour on the cream, whisking to combine. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook gently for 2 minutes stirring continuously. Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour on the cream mixture, whisking until the chocolate has dissolved. Pass through a fine sieve. Press the edge of the brownie against the sides of the tin to make sure there are not any gaps, then immediately pour on the warm chocolate cream, leaving a 2mm gap at the top of the tin for the glaze. Place the tin in an oven preheated to 150’C and cook for 20 – 25 minutes, keeping your eye on it. The cream should be just set and wobble very slightly in the middle. Remove from the oven, allow cooling for 3 – 4 minutes and then stretch a piece of cling film over the tin; this will allow the cream to finish cooking in its residual heat. When it is completely cold, place in the fridge for 1 hour.

For the chocolate glaze :

150ml water

175g caster sugar

55g cocoa powder

125ml double cream

2 1/3 gelatin leaves

40g 64% dark chocolate, chopped

Put the water and caster sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Whisk in the cocoa powder and cream, bring back to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.

Soak the gelatin in cold water for about 5 minutes, until soft and pliable, then squeeze out all the water. Remove the pan from the heat and add the gelatin, stirring until dissolved. Leave to cool for 3 – 4 minutes, then pour on the chopped chocolate, whisking until it has melted. Pass through a fine sieve and leave to cool.

Remove the brownie from the fridge and spread a layer of the cooled glaze on top, smoothing the surface so it is level with the top of the tin. Return to the fridge to set.

Serve by carefully removing the brownie from the tin and cutting it into portions using a warm, wet knife.

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