Make your own healthy chocolates at home

posted: September 11, 2017 - 1:52pm

I started experimenting with making my own healthier chocolate a couple of years ago.  I've made a few changes over that time, and now have a perfected recipe. At first I was the only one in my family who would eat it, but once my husband and kids tasted it, I soon found myself sharing it regularly. Now it's a house staple, and we rarely go without. It's really a pretty simple recipe, and is adaptable based on your preferred sweeteners/add-in ingredients. Here's how you make it:

You'll need:

1 cup of raw cacao powder (I've used this brand and this one with good results. You can also use regular cocoa powder if that's all you have, but I encourage you to try the raw cacao powder - it's loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients, and tastes even better too).

1 cup of healthy solid fat (coconut oil, sustainable palm oil or shortening, raw cacao butter - I currently use a mixture of palm shortening and cacao butter. I've also used ghee in a pinch, which gave a softer consistency, and almost a toffee-like flavor )

1/2 cup of sweetener of choice (I usually use non-GMO birch-based xylitol for this, as my family tolerates it well, and it has some reported health benefits. I've also tried an erythritol-monkfruit blend. You could also try coconut sugar, maple sugar, etc. in this, although it will definitely increase they glycemic load, so keep this in mind)

optional - flavorings/extracts or add-ins of choice: I've tried vanilla, coffee, and peppermint flavorings with great results. Some others that might be good would be caramel, almond, or orange. I use 1-2 teaspoons of flavoring/extract per recipe. I often split the recipe in half and add 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp flavoring per half, to get two different flavors out of one batch. The add-in possibilities are almost endless. Nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios), either raw or roasted are a good, classic choice. Pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds are also tasty. Try dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, currants, cherries. Cacao nibs are also good, as are rice cereal. You can even add spices such as cinnamon or pumpkin spice, different ground peppers, or sea salt. Experiment, mix-and-match and find your perfect combinations. Three that we really enjoy are 1-walnuts or pecans with coffee flavoring, 2-peppermint extract with cacao nibs, and 3- vanilla extract with rice cereal.

Important note: this recipe is really easy to halve or double - the ratio of ingredients will stay the same. I've both halved it (with 1/2 cup each cacao powder and fat to 1/4 cup sweetener) and doubled it (with 2 cups each cacao powder and fat to 1 cup sweetener) with great results.

Directions:

First, you'll need to make sure your sweetener is the right consistency. It should be similar to powdered sugar. Most, like the xylitol I usually use, are more of a granulated consistency. About 3 good pulses in my Blendtec blender gets it to the correct consistency. This will help ensure that the sweetener completely dissolves into the fat. If not, your chocolate will have a grainy texture. You could also try a spice or coffee grinder. 

Next, you'll measure out your solid fat, and then slowly melt it. You can do this on the stovetop, or in the microwave in a glass container. Either way, heat just until melted. Overheating can reduce the health factor of the oil, as well as make it more difficult to combine with the other ingredients.

Next, mix the sweetener very well with the melted oil. You’re going to want to do this completely, so the sweetener dissolves. Stir very well until there are no lumps or grit left. 

Then add your cacao to the oil mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring with each addition. This might take a bit of time, but you’ll want a smooth chocolate, with no bitter lumps to bite into!

 Once you’ve got basic mixture mixed to a smooth liquid consistency, add in any liquid flavorings, and mix well again. Then you’re ready to pour it up. If it seems a little thick to pour, microwave or heat it on low on the stove briefly. Be extra careful, because the complete mixture with the cacao and sweetener can scorch if you’re not careful (been there, done that). 

I love these molds for making my chocolate. I find that two of them will hold a single batch of chocolate. It makes it seem like a real candy bar, and it’s simple to break off small equivalent pieces. You will find candy making molds of all sizes and shapes are available.  I’ve also used mini-silicon muffin trays, as well as poured it free-form on to wax paper or parchment paper on a baking tray. If you have any add-ins, you can place them down first, and pour the chocolate on top, or you can sprinkle them over the top after pouring. It is just a matter of preference. 

I like to finish off the top of my chocolate with a good sprinkling of high quality sea salt or pink Himalayan salt. In find that it really enhances the flavor. Of course you can leave that off if you like, or try spices or herbs if you’d like to get really exotic. Place your chocolates in the freezer to firm up. Depending on weather, humidity, the ingredients you’ve mixed in, the time to firm will vary. Most of the time, if poured in a thinner candy bar mold, it shouldn’t take longer than about 15 minutes. 
Now you’re ready to enjoy!  I personally store my candy in a covered container in the freezer to keep them extra firm. You can also try storing in the refrigerator, particularly if you use coconut over palm, as coconut oil tends to stay more solid. The candies will be safe at room temperature, but will turn into a frosting-like consistency. I haven’t experimented with using the room temperature chocolate mixture as a frosting, but I bet it might be something good to try!
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