Easy to make and quick to set, homemade dark chocolate is something of a game changer. Once you perfect the art of it, trust me, you’ll always want to keep it a stash on hand to curb your cravings.
You need just a few ingredients to make the chocolate. The essentials are: cacao butter, cacao powder and coconut sugar; add-ins include vanilla extract, sea salt and cacao nibs.
First, let’s get the cacao vs. cocoa conundrum out of the way.
You can use cocoa, but I prefer cacao-based products extracted straight from the cacao bean. Hence my use of organic unrefined cacao butter and completely natural cacao powder from Mason & Co, which bring an intensely-rich depth of flavour to the chocolate, layered by a lush creaminess from the butter. By virtue of being less processed, cacao is also packed with antioxidants, legitimising this homemade chocolate as a relatively healthy treat!
The extent to which it can be considered healthy (or at least a healthier option), depends of course on the sweetener.
I prefer to use coconut sugar (from Zama Organics) as its lower on the glycemic index than regular sugar, whilst imparting soft caramel undertones which balance the intensity of the cacao perfectly! Texturally, it helps keep the chocolate quite firm too, compared to liquid sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.
Cane sugar would also be a fine choice. You can experiment with your sweetener, remembering of course that they aren’t all created equal and that coarse granules of sugar or thick syrups will tend to sink to the bottom of the chocolate. If you’re wondering why, it’s essentially because the more you heat the cacao butter, the thinner the viscosity making it easier for a heavy sweetener to drop to the bottom. You learn something new everyday!
The key trick (and unmissable step) in this recipe to remember is to grind the coconut sugar to a super-fine consistency, so that it dissipates evenly through the chocolate.
The beauty of making chocolate yourself is that you can adjust the overall flavour with optional add-ins. I highly recommend adding in a splash of good-quality vanilla extract, cacao nibs and sea salt. The vanilla is a catalyst for boosting the overall flavour profile of the chocolate, while cacao nibs add a woodsy crunch. As for the sea salt, well isn’t everything better with a sweet-salty edge?
As with many recipes on TFD, you can completely customise this to make it your own by adding in slivers of almonds, pumpkin seeds and the like too!
- 1 cup finely-chopped cacao butter *
- 1 cup unsweetened cacao powder *
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp finely ground coconut sugar (adjust depending on taste) **
- 2-3 tbsp cacao nibs (optional; adjust depending on taste) *
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional; adjust depending on taste) ***
- Sea salt (optional; adjust depending on taste)
* All the cacao products (cacao butter, cacao powder & nibs) are sourced from Mason & Co.
** I used a raw coconut sugar from Zama Organics, grinding it until it got to a very very fine consistency (you can do this by giving it a quick whizz in a mixer/ bullet mixer.)
*** I used Sprig‘s Extract of Natural Bourbon Vanilla
- Start by creating a double boiler. Heat about 2 inches of water in a saucepan. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium low and add a heat-proof mixing bowl on top (placing it carefully so that the base is not touching the water). Add the chopped cacao butter and finely ground coconut sugar to the bowl and stir/ whisk regularly until it melts.
- Remove the bowl from heat as soon as the cacao butter mixture has melted (you don’t want to over-heat it). Using a sieve or a fine mesh strainer, sift in the cacao powder (so no lumps remain). Whisk thoroughly until you have a velvety-smooth and fluid mixture.
- Optional (but highly recommended) step: add in vanilla extract and sea salt; taste and adjust as needed depending on preference.
- Next, pour out the chocolate into a mould or a regular dish/ container lined with parchment paper (I used a 9 x 5″ loaf pan) and scatter in the cacao nibs. Just a bit more sea salt on top is always a good idea too!
- You can set the chocolate in a freezer or the fridge (freezer is always quicker). Once firm and hardened, slice it into squares and enjoy!
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