Almost-Famous Molten Chocolate Cake
For the Cakes:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 tablespoons melted, 4 tablespoons at room temperature)
1/2 cup natural (not Dutch-process) cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the Fillings and Toppings:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Caramel sauce, for drizzling
1 pint vanilla ice cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the cakes: Brush four 1 1/4-cup brioche molds (or use 10-ounce ramekins or jumbo muffin cups) with the 2 tablespoons melted butter. Dust the molds with cocoa powder and tap out the excess.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Bring the milk and 3/4 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat; set aside.
Combine the vegetable oil, 4 tablespoons room-temperature butter and the sugar in a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl and beater as needed. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder and the vanilla; beat 1 minute on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl. Add 1 egg and beat 1 minute on medium-low speed, then add the remaining egg and beat 1 more minute.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture, then the hot milk mixture. Finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatula until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the molds, filling each slightly more than three-quarters of the way.
Transfer the molds to a baking sheet and bake until the tops of the cakes are domed and the centers are just barely set, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack; let the cakes cool until they pull away from the molds, about 30 minutes.
How To Assemble the Cake:
Make the Filling: Microwave the chocolate, cream, butter and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until the chocolate starts to melt, 1 minute, 30 seconds. Let sit 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Reheat before using, if necessary.
Use the tip of a paring knife to gently loosen the cakes from the molds, then invert the cakes onto a cutting board.
Use the knife to cut a 1 1/2-inch circle on the top of each cake, cutting almost to the bottom.
Hollow out the cake with a spoon; save the scraps. Wrap the cakes with plastic wrap and microwave until steaming, 1 minute.
Drizzle plates with caramel, then unwrap the cakes and place on top. Pour about 3 tablespoons filling into each cake.
Plug the hole with a cake scrap. Save or discard any remaining scraps.
Top each cake with a scoop of ice cream. Spoon more chocolate sauce on top, spreading it thin so it hardens into a shell.
The French word for perfect is parfait, and when you add whole grains and fruit to yogurt to create a delicious breakfast or snack treat, you are perfecting yogurt’s already considerable health benefits. Typically, a yogurt parfait consists of layers of yogurt, grains such as granola or crushed gram crackers and fruit. When the fat and calories are low, it can be a healthful choice at fast-food restaurants and coffeehouses.
When not loaded with additional sugar, low-fat or fat-free versions of yogurt are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, which are microorganisms that help keep the digestive system working properly, according to information published by the Michigan State University. Fruit imparts a vitamin-rich and naturally sweet characteristic to your yogurt parfait. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you eat two cups of fruit a day, and a parfait will get you on your way to fulfilling that recommendation. The Harvard School of Public Health says diets rich in fruits and vegetables lower blood pressure and reduce risks of heart disease, strokes, some cancers and some eye problems. According to Familydoctor.org, the healthiest grains to use are oatmeal, low-fat granola or crushed crackers. These grains are healthiest because they are rich in complex carbohydrates, which regulate your digestive system and your blood sugar levels.
Making it Your Own
Much of the dish’s health benefits come from how completely customizable it is, with your choice of yogurt, grain and fruit. Take a cue from the Cleveland Clinic, which recommends adding some slivered nuts, wheat germ or ground flax seeds to add heart-healthy omega-3s and fiber that will keep your digestive system in good shape. Yogurt parfaits are healthy partially because they are so easy to make. If you’re in a hurry, throw in some blueberries or raspberries that don’t need to be sliced.
You can also add easy extras that maximize a yogurt parfait’s health benefits. Drizzle some raw local honey between the parfait’s layers. Not only will it add sweet flavor, the 2012 issue of “Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” reports honey will boost your immune system and help reduce inflammation throughout your body. Sprinkle some cinnamon to top off your parfait’s healthfulness. A study in the March 2009 “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that cinnamon lowers the rise in blood sugar levels following a meal.
One of the key benefits to a yogurt parfait is that it provides an easy to make or purchase a portable and, most importantly, balanced small meal. A meal composed of all the major food categories — protein, carbohydrates and a small amount of fat — allows your body to take full advantage of the nutrients provided by each type of food.
Finding Room in Your Diet
At a fast-food restaurant or coffeehouse, a parfait seems like a healthy and appetizing option. Before you make your decision, though, take a few seconds to analyze the calorie and fat information on the parfait, which should be located either on the menu or on the ready-made parfait’s label. The American Heart Association calculates that with a typical 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, you should ingest no more than 56 to 77 grams of fat a day. Keep in mind that breakfast should account for a little less than a third of your total daily intake of calories and fat.
Credit: Live Strong
Sometimes a Sexy Sunday is just spending time with your spouse, or partner. It doesn’t always have to include actual sex on a Sunday or any other day of the week.
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Here are seven health benefits of cashews.
Cashews are ripe with proanthocyanidins, a class of flavanols that actually starve tumors and stop cancer cells from dividing. Studies have also shown that cashews can reduce your colon cancer risk. Their high copper content also endows the seed with the power to eliminate free radicals and they are also good sources of phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect us from heart disease and cancer.
Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts and most of it is in the form of oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Studies show that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health by helping to reduce triglyceride levels, high levels of which are associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Cashews are wonderfully cholesterol free and their high antioxidant content helps lower risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases. The magnesium in cashews helps lower blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.
Hair and Skin Health
Cashews are rich in the mineral copper. An essential component of many enzymes, copper plays its part in a broad array of processes. One copper-containing enzyme, tyrosinase, converts tyrosine to melanin, which is the pigment that gives hair and skin its color. Without the copper cashews are so abundant in, these enzymes would not be able to do their jobs.
Cashews are particularly rich in magnesium. It’s a well-known fact that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is as well. Most of the magnesium in the human body is in our bones. Some of it helps lend bones their physical structure, and the remainder is located on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to use as it needs. Copper found in cashews is vital for the function of enzymes involved in combining collagen and elastin, providing substance and flexibility in bones and joints.
Good for the Nerves By preventing calcium from rushing into nerve cells and activating them, magnesium keeps our nerves relaxed and thereby our blood vessels and muscles too. Too little magnesium means too much calcium can gain entrance to the nerve cell, causing it to send too many messages, and leading to too much contraction.
Insufficient magnesium leads to higher blood pressure, muscle tension, migraine headaches, soreness and fatigue. Not surprisingly, studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps diminish the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.
Data collected on 80,718 women from the Nurses’ Health Study demonstrates that women who eat at least an ounce of nuts each week, such as cashews, have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones.
People who eat nuts twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who rarely eat nuts. Cashew nuts are indeed relatively high in fat, but it is considered “good fat.” This is attributable to the ideal fat ratio in the nut, 1:2:1 for saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, respectively, which is recommended by scientists for tip-top health. Cashew nuts contain less fat than most other popular nuts, including peanuts, pecans, almonds and walnuts. They are dense in energy and high in dietary fiber, making them a very valuable snack for managing weight gain.
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Credit: Health Diaries