This powerhouse packs more punch than your average sweet treat.
There's a lot of talk about superfoods these days, super-powered ingredients that deliver more than their fair share of vitamins and other healthy benefits. Many of them can be hard to figure out how to work into your diet — chia seed-kale smoothies aren't for everyone! — but there's one superfood that's so delicious, it's probably already in your pantry: chocolate.
For decades, scientists have studied chocolate's effect on everything from blood pressure to cholesterol, and the news has always been good for us chocolate-lovers. The reason? Cocoa contains antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, the same thing that makes a glass of red wine so good for you (there's a reason they go so well together!). These compounds work to improve your cardiovascular system's function and can even decrease insulin resistance, the cause of diabetes.
All of these benefits are stored in the pure cocoa, so the darker your chocolate, the better it is for you. But I'll admit, I didn't start loving dark chocolate just for its health benefits! I love its deep, rich flavor, and letting a square melt on my tongue is the ultimate indulgence in my book. In fact, I always keep a stash of the stuff in my fridge that rivals what you might find in the grocery store. You never know when you might be in need!
These are a few of the brands I try to keep on hand at all times:
One of my friends recently bought me a box from this Austin-based chocolatier, and I fell in love with her whimsically delicious bonbons (so much that I collaborated on two special-edition boxes with her, you can get them here!).
These gianduja (a smooth blend of cocoa and finely ground hazelnut paste) boats are a specialty of the Piedmont region of Italy, where the best hazelnuts in the world are grown.
This Colorado company started when its founder got a taste of cocoa beans in Indonesia and wanted to bring that pure chocolate experience home. Lucky for us, their romance-themed bars are now available at Whole Foods.
All of Dagoba's products are certified by the Rainforest Alliance, a guarantee that the cocoa is grown sustainably. It's just another reason to feel good about baking with (and snacking on!) these 74% dark chocolate drops!
Nothing says celebration to me like these gold-wrapped truffles packed with hazelnuts and chocolate cream enclosed in a wafer shell. The crunchy layers are built for savoring.
This California chocolate maker - founded by an Italian! - has been in business since 1852, when Domenico Ghirardelli began selling sweets to Gold Rush prospectors. After 160 years, it's still a winner.
When you're baking, Guittard's range of extra-dark bars, chips, and wafersguarantee a rich chocolate result every time. And if you happen to sneak a piece for yourself while you're at it? That's your secret!
Hershey's Special Dark Kisses
Sometimes simplicity is just what you need. The shape of these iconic kisses is a childhood favorite, and the single-serve foil wrapper makes it easy to pop one for an instant chocolate fix.
Chris Kollar's gorgeous red-wine truffles are the perfect marriage of two of my favorite things. No trip to Napa Valley would be complete without a stop at his jewel box of a shop.
Europe's favorite chocolate bar comes in dozens of fun varieties, everything from coconut macaroon to tortilla chip! But I love their 71% dark bar, a pure indulgence from the heart of German chocolate country.