Raw, Vegan, Sugar Free and Gluten Free
Last week of the uni semester is always so rough. This week I wrote two terrible essays for my final assignments, and waded through three hundred (literally three hundred I’m not even exaggerating) pages of notes trying to summarise for my exam next week. How did I manage to write so many pages of class notes? I don’t really know. Did I write down anything important? No. I can’t even understand myself from two weeks ago. In my mind when I take notes I always think “I’ll just abbreviate these words a bit to save time – future Lil will remember what I’m talking about”…
Future Lil never has any clue what I meant. In one of my law subjects this is one of the notes I wrote in class – “mention the dead baby case but the mum was mean so it didn’t work”. What. On. Earth. Was. I. On. About. “Sigh”.
So instead of studying today I took a break to make chocolate. Because chocolate makes everything better! Especially when it is super good for you too and you don’t have to battle with assignments AND post-chocolate gorging regrets.
My Step Dad very kindly bought my a huge block of cocoa butter a few weeks ago after he heard me raving about coconut butter (bless). I admit for the first couple days I just stared at it having no clue what to use it for. And then I realised there probably wasn’t a better possible way than just making real chocolate!
So I got researching and it’s actually super easy to make at home. Raw cocoa butter and cocoa powder (usually called cacao) is actually really good for you. It is packed with antioxidants and has been heralded for its benefits to the skin and heart. When you heat it unfortunately you lose lots of those benefits, but you get a big difference in flavour as the chocolate essence transforms from quite a fruity, almost bitter flavour to a more nutty, dark, rich, smooth and complex flavour. (Never too many adjectives).
I personally like the flavour of raw cacao so I used that exclusively here. If you get a good quality brand the chocolate flavour is still very sweet and strong. If you want the real dark chocolate experience, swap half the cocoa powder with Dutch-processed, or all of it if you prefer.
For the liquid sweetener, you can go with a few different alternatives. If you want to use real sugar, use icing sugar so that the texture isn’t grainy. For liquid sweeteners, you can use a scented honey like I have, or for a perfectly suitable vegan substitute you can use agave nectar (the light kind). I have heard of people using maple syrup, brown rice syrup and other fruit syrups as well all with great success. I kind of guessed the quantities from the back of a few chocolate bars and by reading some other recipes, and I think the equal parts method is quite standard. For darker chocolate feel free to increase the cocoa!
We had a jar of mango scented honey in the cupboard that I had been waiting to try out, so that’s what I used here. You can also stir through chopped nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes or anything you wanted really before the chocolate sets. It sets completely hard like real chocolate but keep it in a relatively cool place to avoid it melting. And you can use it in place of recipes that call for melted chocolate for a sugar-free vegan alternative! Win Win :)
Natural Raw Chocolate:
100g (3.5 ounces) raw cacao powder, well sifted
100g (3.5 ounces) raw cocoa butter, roughly chopped
100ml (3.5 fluid ounces) raw honey, maple syrup or agave nectar
Place a pot with a few inches of water over your lowest heat with a bowl placed on top. Heat the water until boiling, then turn off the heat. Put the cocoa butter in the bowl and allow to melt completely at a low temperature, to avoid killing the nutrients. In a medium bowl, mix the cocoa, sweetener of choice and cocoa butter well. Whilst still warm and runny, pour your chocolate into little cupcake moulds or chocolate moulds. Silicone will be easiest to remove later! Allow to cool completely in the fridge and then keep at room temperature. The chocolate lasts well for ages and makes great presents. This amount made 30 tiny cupcake moulds of chocolate, and you can easily increase or decrease to suit. Enjoy!