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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dark Chocolate Cashew Cups



These simple treats are extremely versatile: they are elegant enough to serve after a special meal and easy to put together quickly when you are short on time.

High in antioxidants and omega-3 fats, these dark chocolate cups are a healthy alternative to store-bought Halloween candy. This year, share these treats instead.

I use one piece of special equipment to make them: a silicone mini-muffin baking pan. It makes an ideal mold because each cup is the perfect portion size and the flexible material makes them easy to remove. But you could substitute another silicone mold. As baking pans and ice cube trays, they come in all shapes and sizes.

Not surprisingly, the finished product will only be as good as the ingredients. So use really good chocolate.

- 7 ounces 70% dark chocolate
- Raw whole cashews

Roughly chop the dark chocolate and place it in a glass or stainless steel bowl over a pan of slowly simmering water. Cover and heat until chocolate has just melted. Do not over-heat the chocolate or it will become dry and clumpy, instead of creamy and smooth.

Place 3 whole cashews in the bottom of each mini-muffin cup.

Once the chocolate has melted, pour one tablespoon into each cup, covering the cashews at the bottom. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or more, until set. Carefully pop out each chocolate cup and transfer to a serving plate or an air-tight storage container.

Makes 18 to 20 dark chocolate cups. Yield will vary with size and shape of mold.

Some equally easy and delicious variations:

Dark Chocolate Almond Cups
Instead of cashews, place 3 raw almonds at the bottom of each cup. Cover with chocolate as directed above.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cups
Instead of cashews, place 3 dried, unsweetened cherries at the bottom of each cup. Cover with chocolate as directed above.

Dark Chocolate Apricot Cups
Instead of cashews, place 1 dried, unsweetened apricot half at the bottom of each cup. Cover with chocolate as directed above. Sprinkle with chopped raw pistachios.

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