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Why chocolate makes a great menu addition

Deanna Sletten has been writing for nearly 20 years for magazines and websites. She owns the blog Write Moms that shares information about freelance writing. Deanna is also the author of two fiction novels.

Chocolate indulgence

The sweet, satisfying taste of chocolate is usually delegated as an indulgent treat, but it can be an excellent addition to any menu. Chocolate complements many after-dinner drinks, helps you relax and is even healthy in moderation. Here is why you should add chocolate to your next meal.

Woman looking at dark chocolate

1Health benefits

Studies have found that eating dark chocolate may lower your blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke and even make you smarter because of increased blood flow. Chocolate also contains antioxidants which help protect against cancer. The higher the cacao content in chocolate, the healthier it is for you. Experts recommend eating one ounce of dark chocolate each day to enjoy its health benefits. Choose a dark or intense dark chocolate for an after-dinner treat or mid-meal palate cleanse.

2Enhances after-dinner drinks

Instead of dessert, offer guests a glass of wine or a sweet after-dinner drink with a small taste of chocolate. Try serving an intense dark chocolate with a glass of red wine, Ruby port or Cognac. Dark chocolate with hazelnuts or almonds is great with a dry Martini or Brandy Alexander. With Irish Coffee, serve small pieces of milk chocolate or milk chocolate with caramel. You can mix and match chocolate with drinks in many different ways. Experiment with your favorite chocolates and savor how they blend with your favorite after-dinner drink.

3Delights with coffee or tea

When serving an after-dinner coffee, enhance it by serving chocolates that blend or contrast with its flavor. Dark chocolate is perfect with Espresso or French roast coffees as are intense dark chocolates with hazelnuts or almonds. Serve white or milk chocolates with Java or Colombian roast coffees. Milk chocolate with caramel is also a favorite with these types of coffee.

The rule of thumb with tea is to serve dark chocolate with dark teas and lighter chocolate with lighter teas. Serve intense dark or dark chocolate with black or green tea and white or milk chocolate with herbal teas. A flowery tea's sweet taste would contrast well with a dark chocolate that adds a bit of bite to it. Mix and match your chocolate and tea to see what flavors you love best together.

4Relaxes you

Dark chocolate is known for its ability to calm stress and anxiety. It contains substances that increase serotonin and endorphins, the feel good chemicals, in the brain. Dark chocolate also makes a powerful love potion. The Mayans used chocolate as an aphrodisiac because of the way it relaxes and lifts mood. The higher the cacao content in your chocolate, the happier you will feel. Delight in a piece of dark chocolate at the end of your meal, sit back and enjoy the evening.

More chocolate tips and ideas

Non-alcoholic beverages and chocolate pairings
Best chocolates to use for after-dinner drinks
Creative ways to use chocolate for a romantic night

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