Bitters & Berries with Chocolate Shavings


Berries at Farmers Market

By Cat, April 2016 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Fruity Treats Menu; 2. Chocolate (About); 3. Digetsive Bitters

I’m always on the lookout for interesting desserts, especially those that are made with whole fruits and very little sugar. This one appealed to me because of the use of tasty bitter ingredients, such as orange zest, very dark chocolate (high cacao mass), and ‘bitters.’ See Chocolate (About) for more about high cacao mass.

Bitters are a important part of a healthful diet, as  they are very nutritious, and help our digestive system function properly. They are also supportive of the liver and its detox functions. See my article on Digestive Bitters for more.

It’s hard to find whole vanilla beans in my rural Montana community, so I just ordered some and plan to test this recipe as soon as they arrive.

Bitters & Berries with Chocolate Shavings

This recipe is adapted from one in our local Daily InterLake newspaper (April 7, 2016 issue), originally by Melissa D’Arabian of the Associated Press (see the Morning Journal (1) for an online version of her original recipe). She uses raw coconut sugar as the sweetener, And angostura bitters as the bitters formula. I propose the following modifications to this recipe:

  • Because I avoid sugar as much as possible, even raw forms which are more healthful than white sugar, I substitute with stevia, but list coconut sugar as optional sweetener. If you use real sugar, the recipe equates to a bout 1 Tbsp per serving.
  • I far prefer the flavor of Peychaud’s Bitters which include orange zest in its formula, for desserts. However it can be harder to find, in which case Angostura bitters would be an option, or you could make your own (see Digetsive Bitters for a recipe).

This recipe is quick to make, although it does require a minimum of 30 minutes for the sauce to steep.

Serves 6.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • Sauce:
  • scant ¼ tsp stevia extract powder; or ⅛ tsp stevia plus 1 Tbsp dark molasses; or ⅓ cup raw coconut sugar or Rapadura sugar
  • ⅓ cup filtered water
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Peychaud’s or other liquid bitters
  • ½ vanilla pod, sliced open lengthwise and seeds scared out
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeeze orange juice
  • Fruit and garnish
  • 4 cups mixed fresh berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, marion berries, and/or blackberries
  • High cacao-ams dark chocolate bar
  • Equipment
  • small heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • 6 dessert cups
  • vegetable peeler (for shaving the chocolate)


  1. Prep: cut vanilla pod lengthwise, then scrape out the seeds and combine both in a bowl. Grate zest and add to the vanilla.
  2. Sauce: Combine sweetener and water in saucepan set over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sweetener dissolves, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in bitters, vanilla pod and seeds, orange zest, and orange juice. Cook, stirring for another 1 -2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  4. Remove from heat and let steep at room temperature, 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  5. Discard vanilla pod. Refrigerate if not using right away; allow time for it to return to room temperature before serving.
  6. Serve: Divide the berries among the 6 dessert cups. Spoon about 2 Tbsp of the syrup over each cup. Top with chocolate shavings, and serve.


  1. The Morning Journal, for online version of the original Bitters and Berries recipe by Melissa D’Arabian (

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