Beef and Sweet Potato Tagine; The truth about Chocolate

‘White chocolate is what’s left after you take the chocolate out of chocolate.’

I don’t consider it calorie worthy.

I did think it was the same as White Almond Bark.

I was wrong.

The white part of White Almond Bark can be made from vegetable or animal fat and is usually white.  It likely has had nothing whatsoever to do with an actual cocoa bean.

White chocolate is ivory in color and must contain 20% cocoa butter.

Cocoa butter is the fat that is separated after the cocoa beans are ground and pressed.

For chocolate it’s recombined with the ‘solids’.

For white chocolate it’s combined with milk, sugar and vanilla.

White chocolate has no caffeine because it doesn’t actually contain, er, chocolate.  For the same reason it has no health benefits.

It does look pretty in a box of mixed chocolates, however…. And, as it has no chocolate, it’s safe for dogs. (One has to do something with it….)

On to the real thing:

The terminology: Chocolate liquor is the ground, roasted, cocoa bean.  It can (and is) separated into cocoa butter (the fat) and cocoa powder (not the fat).

Milk Chocolate: Chocolate that has been processed with the addition of powdered milk, liquid milk or sweetened condensed milk.

The amount of choclate it must contain varies between countries.  In the US it must have 10% chocolate liquor; in the EU it must have 25%.  (In Ireland and the UK it can have 20% – but elsewhere in the EU that chocolate has to be labeled ‘family chocolate’)

Dark Chocolate: AKA plain chocolate, black chocolate or, simply, chocolate. It contains no milk.

It comes in a variety of styles and strengths. Here in France I can buy it labeled dark, semi-sweet or based on the percentage of cocoa, anywhere from 65% to 95%.  (I’m doing a serious study of the various percentages and expect the research to last many, many years)

The EU rules state that plain dark chocolate must have a minimum of 35% cocoa. The US only says that ‘sweet’ chocolate must have 15% chocolate liquor.

After that it all gets kind of vague.  Bittersweet chocolate has a bit less sugar than semi-sweet but they can be used interchangeably.  Dark chocolate is semi-sweet in the US and bittersweet in the EU.

Unsweetened Chocolate: Sold both in solid form, combined with cocoa butter, or powdered form, as cocoa. Neither are eaten as is.

There are two types of cocoa: natural, which is somewhat acidic and Dutch-process which has an alkali added to neutralize the acidity.

Couverture Chocolate: The best chocolate, used by the actual chocolate makers to make the bons bons the rest of us lesser mortals eat.

Compound Chocolate: The waxy stuff used to coat candy bars.

Dark chocolate is believed to be a potent antioxidant…. but hold the milk.  Don’t even drink milk with your chocolate as the milk can interfere with the absorption of the antioxidants.

Red wine, on the other hand goes very well with dark chocolate – and is considered to be good for the heart.

I’m very health conscious….

Which is one of the reasons I’m still in love my Tagine!

Beef Sweet Potato Tagine
Beef and Sweet Potato Tagine

20oz (600gr) beef, suitable for braising, cut into large chunks
3 large shallots, vertically sliced
2 orange sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 cup chopped tomatoes, with juices
1 cup beef stock
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ginger
2 tbs parsley
1 tbs olive oil

Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium heat.  Add paprika, cumin, ginger and sauté 30 seconds.  Add shallots and sauté until they start to soften.  Move shallots to the side of the pan and add beef, a few pieces at a time, and brown on all sides.  Add tomatoes, juices and beef stock, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer, slowly, 90 minutes.  Add sweet potatoes, and simmer 60 minutes longer, or until tender.  Stir in parsley and serve.

Beef and Sweet Potatoes
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about pairing tomatoes with sweet potatoes.

No longer.

Delicious.

I did not put chocolate in my tagine…. It is the secret ingredient in my Coq au Vin, though!

6 thoughts on “Beef and Sweet Potato Tagine; The truth about Chocolate”

  1. I’m an avid dark chocolate lover and thoroughly enjoyed your post. I don’t touch white chocolate, always pair dark chocolate with red wine, and now will add some to my coq au vin! 🙂

  2. I commend you for your dedication to Chocolate Research. It’s a tough job, and we’re glad you’re there to tackle it. ;D (BTW: very interesting info on the differences in chocolate between the EU, UK, and USA. Thank you!)

  3. Christine, fortunately, mon mari likes both white and milk, so if we get a box of mixed the dark is all mine!
    Ina, red wine is perfect with chocolate – and without LOL
    Laurie, thank you – I suffer so for my blog ;D
    hcg – and delicious!
    Meredith, thanks!

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