Naughty chocolate nipples; Candied macadamia & mandarin choc button recipe.
Maybe I’ve come crawling back to the land of instructional food posts. So what? No big deal. It’s not like i’d ever accuse recipes of being creatively stifling, bland inhibitors of the intuitive process or anything.
But flicking through the newest edition of Delicious magazine last night, I realised that lovingly prepared, technically cheeky and aesthetically arousing food is gorgeous. And sometimes we need an extra dollop of novelty to make it through the day.
Just to put a downer on this whole, seductive, chocolatey love affair, the romance is actually dead between me and this coveted bean. I come from a long line of cocoa-fanciers; baptised in a simmering vat of nutella. But due to some recent discoveries, I now save chocolate for extra special occasions. Blasphemy! Horror! There’s a reason why my treat-loving friends call me ‘The spoiler of sports’ – I’ve a bad habit of unearthing gloomy info regarding treasured foodstuffs. Soz.
Want to know my current stance?
It is thus: I now nibble cautiously at my former brown favourite. Although the ‘raw cacao’ craze has exploded in hipster health communities, I’m still not convinced that consuming chocolate in it’s raw form is optimal. As always, investigating its traditional preparation – fermented and roasted – should spark our interest. In fact, the cacao bean is very high in phytates, chemical compounds that tend to bind to minerals in the body and inhibit their absorption. Fermenting & roasting lowers this load substantially – our Lindt-loving forebears were exercising their wisdom once again.
Other points to consider before basting yourself in the stuff:
- Chocolate has a high copper content. Copper displaces zinc in the body, and this imbalance has been linked to many gnarly health-effects.(See Chris Kresser’s overview of zinc/copper imbalance here).
- The stimulating chemical in chocolate, theobromine, is like a less-jittery version of caffeine. Many people report enhanced alertness and feelings of euphoria post-consumption. However, you can have too much of a grand thing; I found it made me LOCO, messed with my sleep and left me decidedly ‘adrenally’. Wired is putting it mildly. Like a cocker-spaniel on crack is perhaps more accurate. Caution is suggested for those people already experiencing adrenal fatigue or exhaustion.
- There are ethical problems in the production chain, with many sources of chocolate being questionable at best, and highly exploitative at worst. Because the regions in which it is produced tend to be poor, often child-labour is rife. Farming methods are high-risk, with many local manufacturers exposed to potent chemicals suffering horrendous side-effects. Deforestation, soil-erosion and unfair land tariffs also add to the collective nastiness. In short, buying fair-trade and organic chocolate is a must.
- It’s ridiculously addictive. Anything that takes control of my arms, legs and better judgement, walking me to the fridge in a never-ending chocolate-stained loop, gives me the creeps. I don’t want to be at the mercy of a small, inanimate bean – being coco-controlled is lame.
Now that i’ve shot myself in the food with that bitter cacao critique, let’s move on to the recipe!
I made these for some friends going through a bit of a hectic health crisis right now and despite my previous warnings, I still maintain that chocolate is a timeless, magical food. One that can stir a smile from the tightest of lips and bring warmth to cold, empty bellies. It is love; giving and receiving handmade chocolate with joy negates all that boring nutritional bullshit I spouted earlier. Medical fact.
Candied macadamia & mandarin infused choc buttons
200g organic, fair-trade dark chocolate (I used 2 blocks of 70-85% dark choc without soy lecithin & with a low sugar content)
1 cup raw macadamias
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (optional)
1 tsp mandarin zest + more for sprinkling
(I also made extra buttons with shredded coconut; any ingredient, nut or flavour will work. Why? Because it’s covered in chocolate! Duh.)
How to doooooooo it
- Preheat oven to something reasonable. Mid-to-high heat.
- Combine macadamias in a bowl with honey, lay them on a sheet of baking paper, add a touch of sea salt and roast for 10-15 minutes. (You’ll probably have extra, but the recipe accounts for hovering onlookers who will inevitably hoover up at least half the freshly roasted batch).
- While the nuts are baking, boil some water in a saucepan on the stove, breaking chocolate into pieces and placing inside another bowl to rest over top. This steam bath will ensure the chocolate doesn’t burn and melts gently & evenly.
- Add vanilla powder and mandarin rind to the chocolate as it melts. Once it’s liquified, spoon in dollops onto another sheet of baking paper.
- With your roasted macadamias, crush them as finely or chunkily as you like, sprinkling over the top of the still runny buttons.
- Add a small sprinkle of mandarin zest to each one, along with a few pinches of sea salt to give an extra kick to the palette.
- Refrigerate to set. They will only take 5 minutes, keep your pants on.
All creative variations are welcomed!
Seriously mouth-meltingly delicious.
And rather cute, I must say.
Make these buttons as a dinner party offering, or merely to say ‘I love you; let’s eat nipple-shaped candy’ to that special someone.
And try not to become unashamedly addicted in the process.