"I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice." – Albert from Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell C. Hoban
I like chocolate. Dark chocolate. Bitter, slightly spicy, rich with dusky overtones and intense flavor. 80% and up? My favorite kind. Given that I’ve been off refined sugars for sometime, I missed chocolate – it was hard to find the right combination of ingredients that worked for me and if I found it, the taste just wasn’t right. Until I started making my own.
Homemade you say? Raw chocolate? Surely that must be complicated, with fancy ingredients. Not. You do need to find your way to buying cacao butter, either a high-grade raw type, meaning less processed, or any food-grade variety, available in baking/cooking stores or online of course. Otherwise the ingredient list is embarrassingly short and the methodology straightforward.
I like it with a mix of seeds – pumpkin and sunflower, sometimes with chunks of almonds to punctuate the smoothness of the chocolate, and with a touch of goji berries for chewy, sweet/tart taste and lastly, a sprinkle of flaky salt on top which accentuates the favors and sharpens the tastes. It’s one of those mysteries like combining salty feta cheese and sweet watermelon or chocolate dipped pretzels – that perfect marriage of flavors.
What’s with the raw you might ask? Raw treats are less processed relying as they do on not heating the ingredients past a certain degree. While I don’t adhere to a raw diet on a daily basis I’ve learned a ton from blogs and books about this seemingly daring diet and how I can use what I’ve learned in my daily diet, especially for sweets.
That’s how you do it, you know. Improve your eating habits. Instead of feeling like you’re always failing in your attempts to eat well, accept that life is a continuum and start somewhere – cut out the white flours and white sugar and replace them with tasty, satisfying treats that your guests will enjoy too. Or, add more veggies in and slowly cut out the simple carbs. Change your pasta to whole grain. It’s not so hard, I promise. Okay, I’ll climb down from the soap box.
Note: I usually triple this recipe. Why not? I store the chocolate in the freezer and eat it as needed! It’s not tempered the way chocolate is traditionally made so if it stays better in the fridge or freezer.
1/3 cup melted cacao butter (you have to hack at the big piece to get a smaller bit for the recipe)
1/4 cup agave or honey, at room temperature
1.4 tsp pure vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup cacao powder, sifted
Optional Mix ins: Pumpkin, sunflower seeds, whole, chopped or sliced almonds. Goji berries, cranberries, raisins and/or chopped apricots.
Optional Topping: Flaky salt such as Fleur de sel or Maldon salt, or other large grained salt.
Needed: Double boiler, scale (it’s nice but not critical). A large baking pan, like 15 x 18, lined with parchment paper. Sifter for the cacao.
The easiest way to do this is with a double boiler. Stick a smaller pot into a bigger pot. Put an inch or so of water in the bottom of the bigger pot but make sure that the water isn’t touching the smaller pot that’s resting in the bigger pot.
For a triple recipe, I weigh out about 10-12 oz of cacao butter which is somewhere close to the amount needed. Bring the bottom pot of your double boiler up to a boil, reduce heat or turn heat off entirely and monitor as you melt the cacao butter, stirring occasionally. When melted, turn off the fire (if it’s still on) measure the amount needed and pour the rest of the unused butter into a jar – you can use it next time.
Pour the cacao butter back into the double boiler. Add in the salt, the the sweetener, vanilla and then the sifted cacao powder. Stir until all is combined, adjusting sweetener as needed. Stir in mix in. For a triple recipe I use about 1 cup total of mix ins – if you like it nuttier, go for it.
Pour the mixture onto the parchment lined pan and spread with an offset spatula or flat knife. I like it thinner than thicker – more like a bark, that is. Top, if desired, with a sprinkling of a flaky salt, breaking the crystals down with your fingers – especially if it’s Maldon salt. Put the pan into the fridge or freezer to harden, about 10-15 minutes, then break into pieces and taste. Store in the fridge or freezer. Enjoy! (Lasts nicely in the freezer, if you don’t eat it too fast)