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What are the Holidays without Chocolate?

By C.V. Lee
December 22, 2020

Can you imagine a holiday table filled with desserts and not one having chocolate as an ingredient? Me neither. Add yet for centuries, my ancestors would have experienced that deprivation, although not knowingly.

Archeologists have discovered evidence that the cacao bean was cultivated in the Americas over 4000 years ago. It was cherished even back then, at one point even being used as currency. Quoting from a History.com article:

Olmec, Mayan and Aztec civilizations found chocolate to be an invigorating drink, mood enhancer and aphrodisiac, which led them to believe that it possessed mystical and spiritual qualities. The Mayans worshipped a god of cacao and reserved chocolate for rulers, warriors, priests and nobles at sacred ceremonies.

When Spanish explorers went to the new world in the 16th century seeking gold, they returned with chocolate instead. A preferable alternative in my humble opinion. Chocolate was enjoyed by the Spanish nobility as a drink sweetened with sugar and cinnamon. They managed to keep their discovery a secret from the rest of Europe for more than a century until King Louis XIII married a Spanish Princess, Anne of Austria, in 1615. She couldn’t live without her chocolate (my kind of girl) and brought it with her to France.

But enough with the history lesson and on to true confessions.

I’m a chocoholic and proud to admit it. At least my addiction doesn’t come with a hangover or affect my driving. But there is a downside, other than the weight gain if you consume it in too large a quantity. As I grow older I like my chocolate darker (i.e. harder) and more expensive.

When it comes to my test kitchen, If a recipe has chocolate in it, me and my cooking Santa are much more likely to give it a go. So today, I’m sharing some of the great recipes, containing the ingredient of chocolate, that I’ve discovered, all of which can fit into a gluten-free diet. Be assured, if I recommend a recipe, it has been taste-tested and heartily approved by family and friends. And I never keep or share a recipe if it isn’t 100% divine.

A family favorite is the Bavarian Torte. My mother first discovered this recipe in her Betty Crocker cookbook. From that day hence, it was always her favorite. Use your own favorite chocolate cake recipe, or cake, mix, with the frosting recipe. I’ll be using it as a filling for my Yule Log cake this year.

Bavarian Torte Filling

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat the whipping cream until stiff. Blend together the cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Fold into the cream. And voila. Shave chocolate over the top for a beautiful presentation.

My mother was very hospitable and made this cake for many guests. I’ve run into some of those guests decades later, and they still remember this fabulous dessert. Some went on to introduced this recipe to their own families. I think that is a pretty good testimonial. But beware! Only take a small piece, because its very rich.

A few years ago, I dabbled in gluten-free baking. We all have family or friends that have some kind of allergy to wheat, so I wanted to be prepared.

I found this fabulous cake recipe, Best-Ever Chocolate Quinoa Cake. Click through for the recipe. The only change that I make is the frosting. I have had a difficult time whipping the coconut milk so I opt to serve with regular whipped cream.

At a family gathering, I made this cake and an angel food cake served with strawberries and cream. As all the members of my family are chocolate lovers, I could audibly hear the groans when I announced the chocolate dessert was gluten-free. And despite my protests that they would never know the difference, they all opted for the “safe choice”. However, once the angel cake had been polished off, one brave soul decided to sample the chocolate selection. “OMG, this is soooo good!” Eye roll! Isn’t that what I told you? They should have known better than to doubt me! In fact, my husband loves this cake so much he requests it for his birthday.

I was fortunate to find this gem of a cookie recipe. I am including the recipe here because the link to the website came back with weird virus messages. I’ve made these cookies a few times and one of my colleagues commented they were some of the best cookies she’d ever eaten.

Ooey Gooey Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge Cookies {Gluten Free, Dairy Free} from Divine Baking

1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips, divided

3 large egg whites, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar, divided

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in a glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about two minutes. Cool slightly. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow cream. Whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. On low speed, stir the dry ingredients into the meringue. Stir in lukewarm melted chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Dough will become very stiff as it cools. Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar in bowl. Roll 1 rounded tablespoon into ball; roll in sugar, coating thickly. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheets for about 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

If you haven’t decided on a recipe for your chocolate selection this holiday season, these are some delicious options that will have your guests raving.

Happy Holidays!

C.V. Lee
Written by C.V. Lee

C.V. Lee writes historical biographical fiction featuring forgotten heroes and heroines of the past. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Alli, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. You can find her on Facebook @cvlee.histficwriter and on Instagram @cvleewriter.

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