Let’s Talk with Nancy J Cohen

Choose Your Chocolate
by Nancy J. Cohen

Today is National Choose Your Chocolate Day. Somehow this treat makes its way into our stories, either as an indulgence the heroine enjoys, a coffee shop menu item, or a hot drink on a wintry day. Then there are recipes that authors share with readers, tempting them to make the confections at home that are mentioned in their books.

In Trimmed to Death, hairstylist sleuth Marla Vail enters a bake-off contest sponsored by a local farm. Her entry is a rich coconut fudge pie. In Hair Brained, Marla tours an artisan chocolate factory to question the owner. Along the way in writing these scenes, I learned a few tidbits about this rich sweet.

Kahlua Cake

For example, cocoa contains flavonoids. These are antioxidants that prevent cellular damage due to free radicals and help lower your risk for heart disease. Flavonoids also improve blood flow to your brain and cause your body to release endorphins. Dark chocolate has a higher content than milk chocolate. You’ll want to avoid cocoa powder that has undergone Dutch processing. It’s been treated with alkali agents that reduce the flavonoid value.

Cocoa contains some caffeine, but it also has theobromine. Both of these compounds can increase your heart rate. Again, dark chocolate has a higher concentration than milk chocolate. These chemicals are usually not present in white chocolate.

As for dogs, they metabolize theobromine more slowly. They can get theobromine poisoning from even a small amount of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is even more toxic and can lead to seizures and death. The same risk is reported for cats, but they’re less likely to eat sweets.

Let’s assume you are not worried about any health issues. If you could choose a free supply of any chocolate item for a year – what would be your favorite?

While you’re here, check out our September contest, which runs from September 1-18. The winner selects a book from the book vault on the contest page, with print books limited to US mailing addresses. Enter here!