Letitia L. Star has been writing for The Herb Companion for the last five years, along with two other sister magazines—Natural Home and GRIT. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at http://lstar.vpweb.com.
Fresh mint (or other herb leaves) dipped in dark, rich chocolate. Blueberry, Mint & Chocolate Sauce. These ice cream toppings burst with flavor, fragrance and texture with every bite. Plus, they're a breeze to make.
My naturally-sweetened recipes with herbs and fair-trade cocoa make it easy to celebrate National Ice Cream Month—which is the entire month of July. (Sunday, July 17, 2011 is designated as National Ice Cream Day.)
Use this dipping sauce to make delicious ice cream toppings.
Photo by Howard Lee Puckett
Good for You, Good for Others
Both of these recipes use my Dark Chocolate Dipping Sauce recipe recently published in my article, "7 Recipes to Fight Aging with Every Meal." Dark chocolate is a superfood with many health benefits. It's rich in age-fighting flavonoids and antioxidants that can protect cells from free radical damage. It also helps release the brain's feel-good hormones. To make the dipping sauce, I use non-sweetened organic baking cocoa.
"Most chocolate bought and consumed is farmed in ways that show little to no love for the planet, not to mention its people," comments Corey Colwell-Lipson, co-author of Celebrate Green!
"Rainforest deforestation, heavy chemical use, monoculture, habit loss, child labor and unfair labor practices are the not-so-sweet truths associated with conventionally-grown cacao," she adds. "Look for chocolate that's triple-certified: certified organic, certified fair trade and shade grown/bird friendly."
Recipe 1: Fresh Mint (or Basil) Chocolate Topping
Use any type of mint that's vibrantly fresh from your garden or farmer's market. Italian basil also tested surprisingly well. Experiment with other fresh herb leaves such as cinnamon basil, pineapple sage, lemon balm and other inspiring herbs.
• 1 cup fresh mint leaves (or Italian basil)
• 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Dipping Sauce (made with or without peppermint extract)
1. Rinse herb leaves and pat dry.
2. Carefully dunk in dipping sauce so that entire leaves are coated.
3. Spread leaves on plate and freeze.
4. When frozen, carefully remove one leaf at a time. Top on your favorite vanilla or chocolate ice cream, or frozen desserts made with soy, coconut or rice.
Recipe 2: Blueberry, Mint & Chocolate Sauce
This combination may seem a bit unusual. Perhaps you'll enjoy this attractive, intriguing blend of three good-for-you ingredients—all superfoods. For this sauce you may use any blueberry jam or my quick jam recipe Double-Mint Blueberry Jam from the June/July 2011 issue of The Herb Companion.
• 1/4 cup blueberry jam, preferably organic and fruit-juice sweetened)
• 1/4 cup Dark Chocolate Dipping Sauce (made with peppermint extract)
1. Combine ingredients in a bowl. Taste. Add more jam or dipping sauce for the desired flavor and consistency.
2. Refrigerate in glass jar. Top on your favorite vanilla ice cream, or vanilla frozen desserts made with soy, coconut or rice. Then top with fresh blueberries (optional). Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.
Fair-Trade Chocolate & Coffee Resources
• To learn more information about fair trade chocolate, coffee and other food, visit www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fairtrade/cocoa.
Here are some herb-delicious offerings from fair-trade chocolate companies.
• Coco-Zen: Mint Truffles with peppermint essential oil; and Chai Truffles with cinnamon essential oil, cardamom, clove, ginger and nutmeg
• Sjaak's Organic Chocolates: Dark Chocolate Lavender Truffles; Mint Bites; and Mint Mills
• Theo Chocolate: Loose Mint Ganache (with fresh spearmint and peppermint); Classic Mint Dark Chocolate Bar; and Fig Fennel & Almond Bar