Frequently Asked Questions about Chocolate and Nutritional Value
I want to be a perfect host. What chocolate goes with what wine?
The Art of Good Taste
The perfect Host pairs fine Belgian Chocolates to their favorite wine vintage for a symphony of flavour. A perfect blance to complament each other.
Chocolate and Wine Pairing
The darker the chocolate, more Cacao content, the stronger the flavours they need to be paired with a stronger full bodied wine. The wine needs to be as sweet as the chocolate or the wine will taste tart.
Bitter to Bittersweet Chocolate 70 to 100% Cacao Bitter complaments roasted, earthy, fruity, woodsy and/or nutty notes. This nutricious chocolate needs to be paired with strong red wines with concentrated fruit notes such as Merlot, Shiraz, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvigon and Zinfandels.
Semi Sweet Dark Chocolate 50 to 69% Cacao enhanses complex flavours such as nutty, floral, spicy, earthy, fruity complexities found in wines such as Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvigon, Muscat, Pinot Noir and Merlot.
Milk Chocolate contains more milk content than its darker counterparts, including a higher percentage of sugar, thus is sweeter than the chocolate liquor the Cacao mass, the chocolate itself. It makes the flavour notes sweeter and milder. Wines best paired offering a note of cacao, vanilla, honey, milk or cream and nutty notes. Wine to offer your guests would be Muscat or Pinot Noir. You can try Reislings as well.
White Chocolate, althought not really a chocolate, is made without the brown coloured chocolate liquor. It is made with Cacao Butter, sugar, milk and vanilla. It harmonizes with sweet flavoured wines producing buttery, honey and vanilla notes. The palate pleasers are Champagne, Gewurtztraminer and Reisling.
Do you have an allergy alert?
Allergy Alert: All products may contain nuts or nut-products, or may have come into contact with nuts during processing and packaging.
How do I store my chocolates?
Keep chocolate away from sunlight, moisture (humidity), heat and strong odours. Best to store in a cool dry place 65-68 degrees - a temperature no higher than 70 degrees. Chocolate is best experienced at room temperature. Avoid the refrigerator.
I am going away for a few months. How do I keep my chocolates so I can enjoy them on my return?
If you want to keep it longer than 1 to 2 months, freeze instead of refrigerating. Place inside 2 plastic bags or heavy freezer bags and seal tightly. Before serving allow to warm up in the bags to room temperature for at least 6 hours.
Interesting Findings On The Health Benefits of Chocolate
Dark Chocolate Lowers Blood Pressure, Research Finds
ScienceDaily (June 28, 2010) — For people with hypertension, eating dark chocolate can significantly reduce blood pressure. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Medicine combined the results of 15 studies into the effects of flavanols, the compounds in chocolate which cause dilation of blood vessels, on blood pressure.
Dr Karin Ried worked with a team of researchers from the University of Adelaide, Australia, to conduct the analysis. She said, "Flavanols have been shown to increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and consequently may lower blood pressure. There have, however, been conflicting results as to the real-life effects of eating chocolate. We've found that consumption can significantly, albeit modestly, reduce blood pressure for people with high blood pressure but not for people with normal blood pressure."
The pressure reduction seen in the combined results for people with hypertension, 5mm Hg systolic, may be clinically relevant -- it is comparable to the known effects of 30 daily minutes of physical activity (4-9mm Hg) and could theoretically reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event by about 20% over five years.
The researchers are cautious, however, "The practicability of chocolate or Cacao drinks as long-term treatment is questionable," said Dr Ried .
Can Chocolate Lower Your Risk of Stroke?
ScienceDaily (Feb. 12, 2010) — Eating chocolate may lower your risk of having a stroke, according to an analysis of available research that was released February 11 and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010. Another study found that eating chocolate may lower the risk of death after suffering a stroke.
The analysis involved reviewing three studies on chocolate and stroke.
"More research is needed to determine whether chocolate truly lowers stroke risk, or whether healthier people are simply more likely to eat chocolate than others," said study author Sarah Sahib, BScCA, with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Sahib worked alongside Gustavo Saposnik, MD, MSc, where the study was completed at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto.
Chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which may have a protective effect against stroke, but more research is needed.
The first study found that 44,489 people who ate one serving of chocolate per week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke than people who ate no chocolate. The second study found that 1,169 people who ate 50 grams of chocolate once a week were 46 percent less likely to die following a stroke than people who did not eat chocolate.
Chocolate Might Reduce Blood Pressure and Risk of Heart Disease, Research Suggests
ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2010) — Easter eggs and other chocolate may be good for you -- at least in small quantities and preferably if it's dark chocolate -- according to research that shows just one small square of chocolate a day can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. The study is published online on March 31 in the European Heart Journal.
Researchers in Germany followed 19,357 people, aged between 35 and 65, for at least ten years and found that those who ate the most amount of chocolate -- an average of 7.5 grams a day -- had lower blood pressure and a 39% lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who ate the least amount of chocolate -- an average of 1.7 grams a day. The difference between the two groups amounts to six grams of chocolate: the equivalent of less than one small square of a 100g bar.
Dr Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, Nuthetal, Germany, who led the research said: "People who ate the most amount of chocolate were at a 39% lower risk than those with the lowest chocolate intakes. To put it in terms of absolute risk, if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate (of whom 219 per 10,000 had a heart attack or stroke) increased their chocolate intake by six grams a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about ten years. If the 39% lower risk is generalised to the general population, the number of avoidable heart attacks and strokes could be higher because the absolute risk in the general population is higher."
However, he warned that it was important people ensured that eating chocolate did not increase their overall intake of calories or reduce their consumption of healthy foods. "Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense food, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable," he said.
The people in the study were participants in the Potsdam arm of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC). They received medical checks, including blood pressure, height and weight measurements at the start of the study between 1994-1998, and they also answered questions about their diet, lifestyle and health. They were asked how frequently they ate a 50g bar of chocolate, and they could say whether they ate half a bar, or one, two or three bars. They were not asked about whether the chocolate was white, milk or dark chocolate; however, the researchers asked a sub-set of 1,568 participants to recall their chocolate intake over a 24-hour period and to indicate which type of chocolate they ate. This gave an indication of the proportions that might be expected in the whole study. In this sub-set, 57% ate milk chocolate, 24% dark chocolate and 2% white chocolate.
In follow-up questionnaires, sent out every two or three years until December 2006, the study participants were asked whether they had had a heart attack or stroke, information which was subsequently verified by medical records from general physicians or hospitals. Death certificates from those who had died were also used to identify heart attacks and strokes.
The researchers allocated the participants to four groups (quartiles) according to their level of chocolate consumption. Those in the top quartile, eating around 7.5g of chocolate a day, had blood pressure that was about 1mm Hg (systolic) and 0.9mm Hg (diastolic) lower than those in the bottom quartile. 
"Our hypothesis was that because chocolate appears to have a pronounced effect on blood pressure, therefore chocolate consumption would lower the risk of strokes and heart attacks, with a stronger effect being seen for stroke," explained Dr Buijsse.
This is, in fact, what the study found. During the eight years there were 166 heart attacks (24 fatal) and 136 strokes (12 fatal); people in the top quartile had a 27% reduced risk of heart attacks and nearly half the risk (48%) of strokes, compared with those in the lowest quartile.
The researchers found lower blood pressure due to chocolate consumption at the start of the study explained 12% of the reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, but even after taking this into account, those in the top quartile still had their risk reduced by a third (32%) compared to those in the bottom quartile over the duration of the study.
Although more research needs to be carried out, the researchers believe that flavanols in Cacao may be the reason why chocolate seems to be good for people's blood pressure and heart health; and since there is more Cacao in dark chocolate, dark chocolate may have a greater effect.
"Flavanols appear to be the substances in Cacao that are responsible for improving the bioavailability of nitric oxide from the cells that line the inner wall of blood vessels -- vascular endothelial cells," said Dr Buijsse. "Nitric oxide is a gas that, once released, causes the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessels to relax and widen; this may contribute to lower blood pressure. Nitric oxide also improves platelet function, making the blood less sticky, and makes the vascular endothelium less attractive for white blood cells to attach and stick around."
The authors of the study conclude: "Given these and other promising health effects of Cacao, it is tempting to indulge more in chocolate. Small amounts of chocolate, however, may become part of a diet aimed to prevent CVD [cardiovascular disease] only after confirmation by other observational studies and particularly by randomized trials."
Commenting on the research on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), Frank Ruschitzka, Professor of Cardiology, Director of Heart Failure/Transplantation at the University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, and a Fellow of the ESC, said: "Basic science has demonstrated quite convincingly that dark chocolate particularly, with a Cacao content of at least 70%, reduces oxidative stress and improves vascular and platelet function. However, before you rush to add dark chocolate to your diet, be aware that 100g of dark chocolate contains roughly 500 calories. As such, you may want to subtract an equivalent amount of calories, by cutting back on other foods, to avoid weight gain ."
 Examples of absolute risk are given here to help with understanding the findings; however, the study itself only reports relative risk.
 mm Hg = millimetres of mercury (the measure for blood pressure).
Systolic = when the heart's ventricles contract.
Diastolic = when the ventricles relax.
The normal blood pressure for a healthy adult is around 120/80.
Dark Chocolate Is More Filling Than Milk Chocolate And Lessens Cravings
ScienceDaily (Dec. 23, 2008) — New research at the Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE) at the University of Copenhagen – shows that dark chocolate is far more filling than milk chocolate, lessening our craving for sweet, salty and fatty foods. In other words, eating dark chocolate may be an efficient way to keep your weight down over the holidays.
We have known for a long time that it is healthier to eat dark chocolate, but now scientists at the Department of Human Nutrition at LIFE, University of Copenhagen, have found that dark chocolate also gives more of a feeling of satiety than milk chocolate.
To compare the effects of dark and milk chocolate on both appetite and subsequent calorie intake, 16 young and healthy men of normal weight who all liked both dark and milk chocolate took part in a so-called crossover experiment. This meant that they reported for two separate sessions, the first time testing the dark chocolate, and the second time the milk chocolate.
They had all fasted for 12 hours beforehand and were offered 100g of chocolate, which they consumed in the course of 15 minutes. The calorific content was virtually the same for the milk and dark chocolate.
During the following 5 hours, participants were asked to register their appetite every half hour, i.e. their hunger, satiety, craving for special foods and how they liked the chocolate.
Two and a half hours after eating the chocolate, participants were offered pizza ad lib. They were instructed to eat until they felt comfortably satiated. After the meal, the individuals’ calorie intake was registered.
The results were significant. The calorie intake at the subsequent meal where they could eat as much pizza as they liked was 15 per cent lower when they had eaten dark chocolate beforehand.
The participants also stated that the plain chocolate made them feel less like eating sweet, salty or fatty foods.