This has been on my to-do list for two years now. With all of the chocoholics in my family I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get the few ingredients together it takes to make my own chocolate. Now you might look at the list of ingredients and be tempted to file it in the back of your mind somewhere between “maybe when I retire” and “when Hell freezes over”. Don’t. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and I will tell you exactly where to get the ingredients from. Let’s talk about why one would want to make chocolate before we talk ingredients, though.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard that chocolate is an excellent source of antioxidants. It’s true. Cocoa contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, just like you find in grapes, berries, and wine. Further, cocoa contains a healthy dose of catechins and epicatechins, also found in green tea. It’s not just a small dose either. According a study at Cornell Department of Food Science, cocoa has more antioxidants than red wine and green tea!
You know that all chocolate is not created equal, though, right? They are talking about 100% cocoa, which is not exactly our weakness. This is an interesting comparison from a Precision Nutrition article:
Check out the nutritional profile of a 50g bar of healthy, 100% cocoa chocolate:
100% cocoa, 50g
13g carbs (0.5g sugar, 8g fiber)
24g fat (16g sat fat)
Now, moving down the scale of “healthiness”, let’s look at some other options:
85% cocoa, 50g
10g carbs (6.25g sugar, 3.75g fiber)
22.5g fat (14g sat fat)
70% cocoa, 50g
16.25g carbs (13.75 sugar, 2.5g fiber)
21.25g fat (12.5g sat fat)
Snickers Bar, 50g
35g carbs (30g sugar, 1g fiber)
14g fat (5g sat fat)
Notice that the farther we move from the high cocoa chocolate, the following happens:
1) We get more calories
2) We get more sugar
3) We get less protein
4) We get less fiber
Source: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/chocolate-tea-antioxidant-benefit (You must be a member to access content, so I am siting the article but you may not be able to read it)
That brings us to today’s chocolate adventure. There are all kinds of really good chocolate on the market. Even the kind of chocolate that is closer to the top of the list I just mentioned. I love Dagoba, Green and Blacks and especially a locally made artisan chocolate, Christopher Elbow. I prefer something around 75% cocoa and also look for organic and fair-trade. It can be expensive, though. Very expensive. Now, you might get a little sticker shock on some of the ingredients I am going to recommend to make your own, but keep in mind that I buy in bulk so it makes a lot of chocolate.
First two ingredients are cocoa butter and coconut oil, both of which I order from Mountain Rose Herbs. I can’t say enough good things about that company. Not only do they have every type of oil, spice, herb and tea you could imagine, it’s the best quality and it’s all sustainable. Take a look around on their website or, even better, sign up to receive a catalog. It’s fun to browse.
The next ingredients are raw cocoa and agave nectar. I like to order those from Amazon.com. You can find good deals on both products when you do Subscribe and Save and Amazon Prime (free two day shipping). You don’t have to use agave nectar. I’m assuming you want a sweetener of some kind (if you don’t then you’re more of a woman or man than I), so choose whatever you like — honey, stevia, cane sugar, palm sugar, etc.
Anything else you want to put in the chocolate is up to you and your chocolatier imagination.
So, let’s summarize and count the reasons you should not waste any time and make your own chocolate:
1. You can choose your sweetener (bonus for diabetics!)
2. You can add all sorts of interesting flavors, nuts, fruits, spices, etc. Try crystallized ginger. Divine.
3. It’s the best quality all the way around. You can control every single ingredient that goes into it.
4. It’s the freshest you will ever find. Wow, had no idea how good fresh chocolate is.
5. IT’S SO GOOD. My kids would not stop eating it tonight, specifically the one with crystallized ginger in it.
6. It’s fun to make and it’s fun to tell people you made it
7. It’s economic. I won’t call it cheap, because the ingredients can be pricey unless you buy them in bulk. Relatively speaking, though, you’ll pay so much less for better quality.
I think you get the picture. Have fun with it.
Adapted from Precision Nutrition. This needs to remain refrigerated. It melts very quickly due to the low melting point of the cocoa butter and coconut oil. It will melt in your mouth.
Fill a 2 quart pot half full of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set a glass bowl on top of it (the bowl should be partially submerged in the water. Add the cocoa butter and coconut oil in the glass bowl. Stir until melted. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until fully combined. Stir in any extras (dried fruit, nuts, ginger, spices, etc.). Pour into a shallow dish or into chocolate molds. Freeze until hard. The length of time depends on the thickness of your chocolate. Small molds take only 10 minutes. Thicker pieces could take up to an hour. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container.