Cocoa Breaks Out of Dessert and Into the Main Dish

Source: Food Creation,

Sep 06, 2005

Move over, salt and pepper — there’s another ingredient appearing in America’s restaurants across the nation: Hershey’s Cocoa! Restaurateurs are discovering new ways to utilize cocoa in recipes and menu selections to accommodate Americans’ healthier eating habits. Cocoa is being added to old favorites as well as innovative new dishes — from fresh fruit to salmon to chili.

Could a Contest Coax a Creative
'Cowabunga!' from Culinarians?

The Hershey Company is hosting a contest to inspire and recognize both culinary students and professional chefs who have found creative ways to incorporate natural cocoa into their recipes. Contestants are invited to send in recipes and usage tips for a chance to win an all-expense-paid trip for two to Hershey, Pa. Entries will be accepted through Jan. 31, 2006. For more information on the contest or to download an entry form, visit

“The possibilities are endless when incorporating cocoa into a menu which will allow businesses to expand their options,” says Curtis Aikens, award-winning chef, cookbook author and television personality. ”It enables the restaurant community to spice up dishes and create new innovative and healthy culinary cuisines for the conscious consumer.”

Cocoa is a natural source of flavanol antioxidants. According to a recent study conducted by The Hershey Company in conjunction with Brunswick Laboratories and Cornell University, the levels of flavanol antioxidants in cocoa and chocolate products are nearly perfectly correlated with the concentration of natural cocoa in products.The results show that antioxidant levels are greatest in natural cocoa powder followed by unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and finally, chocolate syrup. In other words, the higher the natural cocoa content, the greater the flavanol antioxidant levels.

Data from The Hershey Study and previous studies indicate that cocoa is one of the most concentrated sources of flavanol antioxidants among plant foods. The antioxidant capacity of one cup of hot cocoa made with natural cocoa is equal to that of 1⅓ cups of blueberries, two glasses of red wine or three cups of black tea.

According to Martha McKittrick, registered dietitian, “Cocoa is a natural source of antioxidants. These same antioxidants occur naturally in many foods such as tea, berries and grapes. Cocoa beans have one of the highest concentrations of flavanol antioxidants among plant foods.”