The food of the gods, cacao (pronounced: cah-COW) is indeed a powerful substance that the Mayans and Aztecs appreciated more than 3,000 years ago. They prized chocolate for its mild stimulating effects and believed that it improved concentration and strength.
Millennia later, researchers in the 21st Century have found that chocolate indeed provides a gamut of healthful properties:
- contains anti-oxidants
- contains a mild stimulant known as theobromine, that elevates mood
- is a source of phenylethylamine (PEA), which provides a sense of well being
(The same chemical produced when people fall in love.)
- helps to elevate serotonin, which helps with depression
- contains minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc
The problem with eating too much chocolate is the sugar! So why not enjoy the health benefits of cacao in a savory appetizer?
Spicy Chocolate Dip with Shrimp
1 oz. dark chocolate (70% for higher cacao content), chopped
2 Tbsp. tahini, or almond butter
1/8 – ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. grated fresh ginger
¼ cup water
¼ cup chopped cilantro, or parsley to garnish
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
8 – 10 med shrimp, cooked
Serves 2 (as an appetizer)
This savory chocolate dip is intensely chocolatey, spicy and unctuous. So a little goes a long way, although you may want to double this recipe as it is rather addictive!
Place the chopped chocolate in a small stainless, or glass bowl. Place the bowl over a small pan of boiling water to melt the chocolate. Meanwhile, place the other ingredients (except for the cooked shrimp) in a blender. When the chocolate is melted, turn the blender on and drizzle the chocolate into the mixture with the blender running. You should end up with a nice smooth and thick dip. (Add in just a little water if the mixture seems too thick.) Spoon the dip into a nice bowl, add the chopped herb if you are using it, and serve with the cooked shrimp.
This is also delicious with chicken or grilled vegetables. Or hey, I actually like it with potato chips too!
If you are making this ahead of time, keep it at room temperature to serve.
Once refrigerated, it will harden. You can soften it by re-heating over a double boiler.
For love of food & friends,