Chocolate Hearts

You know you crave it, but can chocolate actually be good for you?

Do you remember those giddy days when nutritionists endorsed the consumption of red wine? Turns out that chocolate might be getting its own thumbs-up, too, with nutritionists claiming that chocolate’s potent antioxidants are beneficial to your heart. According to the Cleveland Clinic, chocolate’s flavanols have been found to drop blood pressure by reducing LDL cholesterol, making blood platelets less “sticky” and less prone to clot. Good news for chocoholics. But unhand those M & Ms right now; the high fats and sugars in most brands of chocolate negate any beneficial effect. For the biggest antioxidant bang, blacker is definitely better. Go with 70 percent cocoa or higher, like Green & Black’s organic “Dark 85%,” available at Whole Foods.

The Blacker the Berry….
Our favorite doses of dark:

â–  Juniper’s nearly black, molten chocolate cake breathes life into Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s classic. Best of all? Its smart, jewel-like portion packs a huge, dark-chocolate punch.
Juniper 575 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson (914) 478-2542

â–  Good thing it’s sprinkled with white confectioner’s sugar, because you might lose Angela Ingrao’s inky brownie in a dimly lit room. Blackly delicious, these fudgy squares jack right into our chocoholic mainline.
Cocoa 2107A Boston Post Rd, Larchmont (914) 834-6464

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â–  The notion of dark chocolate ice cream feels slightly oxymoronic. After all, doesn’t that dairy add a whole lot of creamy white? Magically, the Blue Pig’s Dam Dark Chocolate—named for the nearby Croton Dam—delivers intense dark chocolate despite its lushly creamy matrix.
Blue Pig 121 Maple St, Croton-on-Hudson (914) 271-3850

â–  Danish-born Fritz Knipshildt’s one-ups the monolithic “death by chocolate” dessert, offering a delightful demise by at least a thousand flavors. At his Norwalk café and chocolate factory, Cafe Chocopologie Knipschildt creates chocolates flavored with outré essences, including black pepper, lavender-caramel, red chili with tangerine, and dried plum, among scores of others. Wash the bites down while watching the chocolatiers work, sipping equally creative drinks, like “Fritz’s Hot Chocolate,” whipped with passion fruit and ginger syrup.
Chocopologie Cafe 12 S Main St, Norwalk (203) 854-4754

â–  If you’re looking for total immersion, head to Scarsdale’s Lulu Cake Boutique for a “Brooklyn Blackout.” Jay Muse’s smile-blackening (but worth it!) layer cake promises chocolate fudge cake, homemade chocolate pudding filling, and chocolate fudge frosting. Take our word for it: check a mirror before you grin (and you will be grinning).
Lulu Cake Boutique 40 Garth Rd, Scarsdale (914) 722-8300

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