Homemade chocolate is very quick and easy to make, and an ideal pressie to take to a dinner party. While wine is most people's default option, including ours, sometimes it's thoughtful to take something else for the host not least if they are pregnant or teetotal, and especially in the cases where, according to my husband "to take wine to a man is to insult his cellar".
This recipe uses just cacao butter, raw cacao powder and maple syrup resulting in the most moreish, velvety and rich chocolate, which is vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I usually add the zest of 3/4 of an orange too to create a Terry's Chocolate Orange effect, and sometimes almonds and raisins on top in the style of Cadbury's Fruit n' Nut! I have also been experimenting with different salts including a seasalt that had been infused with cinnamon and orange zest. Experiment!
You can pour the chocolate into ice cube trays or small moulds for fun shapes, or onto a shallow baking tray or lid of tupperware to make a slab of chocolate, as I did above.
What you need:
1 cup of raw cacao powder (or cocoa)
1 cup of raw cacao butter (1/2 cup cacao butter + 1/2 cup coconut oil but pure cacao means the chocolate won't melt so easily)
1/4 cup of maple syrup
To go inside the chocolate: 1 heaped teaspoon of orange zest/pinch of ground cardamom/cinnmon/chilli/inside of a vanilla pod/drop of brandy - experiment!
To go in or on top of the chocolate: nuts, seeds, dried fruits
1. If either your cacao butter or coconut oil are solid, you will need to melt them. Take your slab of cacao butter and chop or grate it into small pieces, then melt it over a bain-marie. This involves filling a small saucepan with water and putting it onto simmer. Then place a pyrex or heatproof bowl above the saucepan with your cacao butter in it and keep stirring it with a wooden spoon until it melts. Your final quantity need to be 1 cup.
2. Pour the melted cacao (and coconut oil if you are using it) into the food processor with 1 cup of cacao and the 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Add flavouring now if you desire e.g. orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom etc. Blend for 10 seconds until smooth, remembering to scrape down the sides if necessary.
3. Pour into moulds then place in the freezer to speed up the setting process.
4. Once they are set, in a few hours, depending on the size of the mould, you can pop them out of their moulds and move them into the fridge in an airtight container.
NB. To make the most solid chocolate that will not melt at room temperature, use 100% cacao butter. You can use a mix (50/50) of coconut oil and cacao butter, which will be cheaper, but it will melt more easily at room temperature and you will have very chocolatey fingers when eating it! Not the worst problem ever though...
If you are transporting your chocolates to a dinner party, keep them in the fridge until the last minute then carry them in a cooler bag with an icepack underneath, just to be on the safe side!
FYI, last Saturday night I made a slab at 6.45pm, had it in the freezer by 6.50pm then was out the door with it set at 7.15pm for a dinner at 7.30pm!
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