So I jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon a couple months ago and have been testing it out on various ingredients ever since. It may seem odd that coconut oil has become a craze, given its particularly high saturated fat content. That’s the artery-clogging fat they’ve been making us fear for years. But as Errol Schweizer, Whole Food’s global senior grocery coordinator, told the NY Times, annual sales growth of the product is definitely on the rise, seeing stats well into the double digits at Whole Foods. So why is this 90% saturated fat-filled item being let off the hook among foodies, and that goes for healthy foodies too?
Well, some recent studies have shown that not all saturated fat is the same. That which fills coconut oil may not be the deviled fat that fills bacon. Instead, coconut oil consists primarily of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), known as lauric acid. This kind of saturated fat has actually been shown to increase the levels of good HDL. Like other forms of saturated fat, it also increased the bad LDL levels, but it doesn’t create a negative imbalance between the two levels. Recent research has shown that this might be the most important factor in maintaining a heart-healthy diet. One’s diet shouldn’t necessarily exclude saturated fat but rather maintain a healthy ratio between the various dietary fats.
There’s still some controversy over whether coconut oil is truly a good option, considering it may not offer the same health benefits of, let’s say, olive oil. And then there’s the fact that many processed foods contain its hydrogenated form, transforming it into the villain of all fats, trans fat. Thus, this is not to be mistaken with virgin coconut oil, the kind that consumers are starting to run off the shelf.
But while even virgin coconut oil might not be the healthiest of oils, current consensus generally seems to be that it’s safe to use, at least in moderation. And this is good news for vegans, who finally have a lard-free solution for making flakier pie crusts. The solid-at-room-temp. oil also lends a sweeter, slightly richer taste to savory ingredients too, like sauteed summer greens. It won’t infuse a strong coconutty flavor, so don’t get your hopes up if that’s what you were looking for. But it will add slight hints of the flavor, especially when paired with simple, mild flavors like in this recipe.
Here, the chocolate is definitely the dominate flavor, but you will be able to detect subtle coconut undertones. The coconut oil also helps to smooth out the chocolate and keep it a little softer when it hits the ice cream. If you’re looking for a real coconut kick (and to keep it vegan too), pair it with some coconut ice cream. Then you’ll be sure to taste the coconut, which pairs nicely with this rich, chocolaty shell.
Via NY Times
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- Melt the chocolate in a small metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir in the coconut oil and heat until dissolved, about 1 minute. Keep the liquid lukewarm until ready to pour over the ice cream. Chocolate will harden into a shell within a few seconds when spooned over ice cream.