You know the dreaded moment when you could really go for some dark chocolate and don’t have any stashed in the cupboard?
Well, you can say goodbye to that feeling; you are about to get fancy in your kitchen.
I have to admit that dark chocolate is my favorite indulgence. Hands down. It just hits the spot. And if you are like me, you’ll be glad to know that it’s not hard to make your own. This guide is going to teach you so many new little things about chocolate and chocolate-making.. I even learned quite a bit more than I did before I started writing this!
Let’s talk dark chocolate.
Chocolate is considered dark when there are little to no milk solids added to it and a high percentage (>55-60%) of the ingredients by weight are cacao solids. Cacao solids are any elements of the cacao bean, which could be a liquor, powder or butter. Cacao powder is made by pressing the butter out of the bean and grinding the rest of it into powder. The cacao butter is the fat part, or cold-pressed oil, that comes from the bean and melts at body temperature. Why dark over milk chocolate? Milk has a much lower cacao content than dark; it only has to contain 10% cacao and is instead filled with other ingredients, mostly milk and sugar. Not only is it better to consume less sugar, but most conventional milk chocolates are not made with milk that has come from well-treated cows. Also, the most nutritious part of chocolate is from the actual cacao beans, not milk and sugar.
I absolutely love dark chocolate, and there are some really great brands of chocolate bars out there, some of my favorites being Endangered Species, Green & Black’s Organic, Alter Eco, Equal Exchange Chocolates, Dagoba, and Theo. Whenever I buy dark chocolate, I like to make sure it’s organic and made with fairly traded cacao beans.
So why do I like to make my own? Because I can hand-pick all the ingredients to my liking. That way I can make any kind I desire, which means awesome flavor combinations I might not see in the store. I also prefer to use ingredients that are of high quality so when I make my own I know exactly what kinds of ingredients I’m putting in the batch. And like I mentioned, it’s also very convenient for curbing a dark chocolate craving every once and awhile 😉
I suggest using organic ingredients when it is possible; if you’re going to make homemade dark chocolate, you might as well hit it out of the park with some high-quality ingredients! If some things are unaffordable for you, don’t worry. Your bar will still be many times better than a Hershey’s bar. Trust me.
When I make dark chocolate, I use equal parts organic cacao powder and organic cacao butter (usually a 1/2 cup of each) as my cacao components, which constitutes the majority of the bar. I use these two because they they mix very smoothly with each other, and you can easily buy raw powder and butter to make a raw bar. Melt the cacao butter on very low heat. If you want the bar to be truly raw, use a double boiler to melt the butter (bowl or pan inside a pan that has simmered water in it). Sometimes I like to add a small amount of organic coconut oil, like 1 to 2 tsp. Not only do I like the flavor, but I think it gives the chocolate a nice, smooth taste.
Next, pick some sort of sweetener and add it to taste. I use liquid sweeteners because I find that to be the best way to incorporate them into the bar. My first choice is raw honey, and I use about 2 tbsp. of it. You can also use maple syrup, agave nectar or stevia. Molasses is also an option, but I would use that more for flavor and combine it with another sweetener as well. I don’t like to use much heat in the chocolate-making process so when I use some sort of granulated sugar like turbinado, sucanat, rapadura, coconut sugar, etc., the granules don’t melt and just sink to the bottom of the bar. Then you are literally just crunching on sugar granules when it comes time to enjoy the chocolate. You probably could heat it up so that the granules melt, but I just feel like that destroys the delicate properties of the cacao solids. You could also try grinding the natural granulated sugars into a powder using a blender, food processor, or coffee/spice grinder, but it does depend on the type and quality of equipment you have available. It’s always worth experimenting with if you are curious. I might try this with coconut palm sugar soon because it’s so tasty 🙂
You could be done at this point by placing the mixture into a silicone mold or pan lined with wax paper and setting it out to cool. You’d have some solid dark chocolate, and something to be very proud of.
Or you could keep going. AKA add-ins.
This is where it gets fun. REALLY fun. Just as was the case with chia porridge and banana ice cream, there are literally endless combinations of ways you can spice up your chocolate bar. I so thoroughly enjoyed researching this part.
With these, the only advice I’d really give is to eyeball and taste test. There are no exact formulas, this is YOUR chocolate bar. Obviously with strong or unique ingredients, especially spices like cayenne, chipotle, thyme and chilies you’ll want to err on the side of caution and add conservatively. Don’t get carried away, remember you can always add more of something, but can’t really take it out. I would start by trying combinations of things you would like together using two to four ingredients off this list. Don’t be worried about this being an exact science. It’s not. It’s an art!!
I decided to organize the different addition ideas into broad categories. I realize some may belong under a few or come in two forms, but bear with me. Some of these may not be raw, but are great additions regardless.
Sea salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, cardamom-good for chai flavor, cayenne-with cinnamon is common, chillies, paprika, chipotle, thyme, coffee beans/espresso powder, and turmeric
Extracts -here are some examples, but there are tons out there! I just like to make sure they are organic (I really like this brand). There are also a lot of other good options here. I would add about 1/2 – 1 tsp. depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.
Vanilla (very common), hazelnut, almond, anise, coconut, coffee, lemon, orange, peppermint, and almond
Dried Fruits – I would add about a small/medium-sized handful of dried fruit.
Cherries, blueberries, mangos, currants, cranberries, coconut, mulberries, figs, ginger, apricots, orange peel/zest, goji berries, inca berries, aronia berries, dates, raisins, freeze-dried rasperries or strawberries, or fresh pomegranate arils
Powders/Herbs – If you have not heard of some of these, do a quick Google search to see what they are. The world of herbs is fascinating. Most of these I would just sprinkle in if I were going to use them – probably up to a teaspoon.
Maca, lucuma, ashwagandha, acai, rose hips (dried berries or powder), maqui, spirulina and chlorella-tablets can be ground into powder, carob, mesquite, mangosteen, Siberian Ginseng, burdock, reishi and chaga, echinacea, ginko biloba, hawthorne, cordyceps, fo ti, damiana, horny goat weed, gotu kola, lion’s mane, valerian
Nuts and Seeds – I like to chop up the nuts so they are in smaller pieces before adding them to the bar. You can also soak or sprout them a little too! I would add about the same amount as you would dried berries (small/medium-sized handful).
Hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds-grind into powder for maximum absorption
Grains – Switch it up a little bit!
I found some great inspiration from the company, Gnosis Chocolates. What a great thing they have going on over there!! If you’d like to see how they combined some of the above ingredients, check out a list of their bars here.
Don’t have very many of these ingredients at home? Check out my page ‘Revamp Your Pantry‘ to see what kinds of ingredients you can acquire at home that will help you make lots of great combinations of whole food dishes and treats like these chocolate bars, chia porridge, banana ice cream, and many more!
Now over to you – I’d love to know what you think about making your own raw organic dark chocolate! Are you excited? Have you tried it before? Do you have any other questions or ideas? Leave a comment below to connect with me 🙂
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