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Cocoa Conundrum: When to Use What?


A “Thrill of the Choice” segment sponsored by The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.

By Cheryl McEvoy, NFCA Online Content Manager

Let’s wrap our lesson up with some dessert. Chocolate is the ultimate indulgence, but with so many forms of it on the market, how do you know what to reach for? Here are some suggestions to sweeten your gluten-free shopping:

Solid Chocolate Bars (dark chocolate, flavored dark chocolate)

Gluten-free, dairy-free dark chocolateChocolate Fondue: The smooth texture and rich chocolate flavor work well for dipping fruit and gluten-free pretzels. For a twist, use flavored dark chocolate or mix in a little red wine.

Chocolate Shavings: Run the bar over a grater (or carefully use a knife to scrape the bar) to top a gluten-free cake, pie, ice cream, etc., with delicate chocolate slivers.

Candy Pops: Melt a flavored dark chocolate bar in a double boiler, then pour into candy molds. Add a stick to make it a handheld treat.

Wine and Cheese: Break chocolate bars into large chunks for a rustic, yet sophisticated pairing with wine. To kick up the presentation, place each flavor on a different plate, then go “around the world” sampling each flavor with your wine.

Gluten-Free S’mores: If you’d rather get your hands messy, sandwich a chunk of dark chocolate between a freshly toasted marshmallow and your favorite gluten-free graham cracker or gingersnap cookie. The bars are easier to grab than dribbling chocolate chips.

Chocolate Bars with Mix-Ins (chocolate crispy bars, chocolate almond bars)

Gluten-free, dairy-free rice crunch chocolateChocolate Nut Clusters: These bars already have texture, so you don’t need to add much. Break them into small pieces, then mix with peanut butter, chopped nuts, popped amaranth and shaved coconut. Spoon onto a cookie sheet and set in the fridge to firm up.

Super Milkshakes: Make your own ice cream treat at home! Break chocolate bars into chunks, then add to a blender with a few scoops of ice cream and milk (or your favorite non-dairy alternatives). Blend until the ice cream is soft and smooth.

Pumped Up Popcorn: Nothing says “salty and sweet” quite like the combination of chocolate and popcorn. Take a shortcut by combining lightly salted popcorn (make sure it’s cool) with small chunks of dark chocolate almond bars. Minimal effort; big reward.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Cookies: You can’t knock a classic. Baking chips will always be part of the cookie making tradition, and rightly so. Who doesn’t get that taste of nostalgia when biting into a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie?gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate chips

Trail Mix: Their tiny size makes baking chips the perfect addition to trail mix. Fill a large pot or bowl with peanuts, almonds, dried cranberries, pepitas, sliced coconut and chocolate chips, then stir and scoop into individual bags. Your next camping trip just got tastier.

Cake Balls: Cake balls are one of the newest baking obsessions, and you can easily make them gluten-free by using a gluten-free boxed cake mix. When it comes time to dip them in chocolate, reach for your baking chips. They are easy to melt in the microwave; just set it on 50% power for 1 minute at a time, stirring in between each minute.

Cookie Mix in a Jar: It’s a simple concept, but a thoughtful gift. Take all the dry ingredients needed to make your favorite gluten-free cookies or brownies, and layer them in a clear glass jar. The baking chips work nicely here because they’re easy to pour in and serve as a distinct layer between flour, sugar and other powdery ingredients. Here’s one from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.

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