Chocolate is an amazing food. It contains a high amount of antioxidants that have been linked to a variety of health benefits, and eating chocolate gives you endorphins, “the happy hormone.” But I’d rather leave refined sweeteners and a high sugar content out of my chocolate. When I buy chocolate, I look for super-dark varieties (and fair trade). I also love to make a variety of treats at home with more natural sweeteners, and less of them too.

Here are 12 of my favorites:

1. Deep Dark Chocolate Tart (pictured above): I hate it when I make this tart. Really … I do. Because every time, I want to have just a “little more” of the delicious, bittersweet tart, and then ... just a little more (and the struggle goes on). It’s hard to resist with its chocolate, nut-based crust, and it’s creamy, dark chocolate, decadent layer of pure chocolate goodness.

2. No-Bake Raw Macaroons: With coconut cream, coconut flakes, cocoa powder and honey, you can stir together a sweet little treat that’s perfect for little hands (as well as my own).

3. Chocolate Whipping Cream: This is amazing. A swirl of maple syrup and a scoop of chocolate transforms whipping cream into a decadent delight. Serve with berries to dip into it, use to top hot cocoa, or dollop on cake.

4. All-Natural Thin Mint Cookies: This gluten-free version is a definite favorite in this household.

5. Brownie Pudding Cake: This is a sweet treat that is quite popular. This is my gluten- and dairy-free version based on an old favorite recipe. Naturally sweetened and using whole grain, it also has the advantage of being frugal to serve to a crowd!

6. Chocolate Banana Freezer Pie: This recipe is mostly sweetened with bananas! It makes an icy chocolate treat.

strawberry ice cream with nuts and cinnamon This strawberry ice cream starts with bananas, and ends with chocolate. (Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch)

7. Strawberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream: Bananas are the basis for this sweet, thick, creamy ice cream. Who can resist strawberries and chocolate?

8. Chocolate Hazelnut Cake: This rich, slightly sweetened cake has a rich chocolate flavor with nutty overtones.

9. Delicious and Simple Truffles: For a more traditional treat, this simple recipe will have you rolling truffles in no time. And, you can even have a couple small truffles without consuming much sweetener if you use a dark chocolate!

10. No-Bake Mini Double Chocolate Torte: These chilled, fudge-like treats are especially delicious topped with fresh fruit.

11. Chocolate Milk “Frappe”: This coffee-free icy chocolate milk is the perfect pick-me up in the afternoon. Plus, it’s only lightly sweetened.

12. Hot Cocoa: If you are looking for a warm drink, these hot cocoa recipes are delicious and comforting.