Monday, September 24, 2012

Raw vegan chocolate

Okay I'm going to say it. Twitter is great, when you make it work for you.

I can't remember how I first stumbled on this raw, vegan chocolate recipe, or that such a beast even existed, but the ultimate result is that after following some fabulous raw foodies on Twitter, I found myself ogling this raw, vegan chocolate recipe and busting to try it.

Now: a note to self (that is, yourself): this might take you several attempts to perfect the recipe.  I think I'm up to version #10, but I've finally found a recipe that works for me that I'm happy with. Let me tell you, trialling 10 batches of chocolate is tough work, but someone's gotta do it :-)

The issue in perfecting this chocolate really lies in the type of sweetener you use and how much you use of it.  What I found is that as soon as the sweetener is added, the mixture thickens considerably, sometimes making it hard to work with and a bit too stiff to easily pour into the moulds.  And when you pop the set chocolates out of the moulds when they're set, they're not shiny happy chockies either.

I am sure there is a lot of science around chocolate making. In fact, I KNOW there is a lot of science around chocolate: there is tampering and working it and blah blah blah.  This recipe is not designed for the serious chocolate aficionado.  This is just for someone like me with a sweet tooth that wants to eat the healthier version of a wicked treat.

So how is it healthier, I hear you ask?  Raw cacao is the least processed version of cocoa and therefore still retains all of its lovely nutrients.  Recent studies have shown that raw cacao contain very high levels of antioxidants, magnesium and Vitamin C.  

Coconut oil is one of my favourite all time foods/remedies on the planet and could have its own blog post, hell it could have it's own book, it's so good.  I lather it all over my body.  I make home-made deodorant with it (yes, its true and most of the time I smell like lemon cheescake and I feel like licking my armpits).  But I digress.  Coconut oil improves heart health, increases metabolism and boosts the immune system.

These 2 ingredient alone are reason enough to eat chocolate. But we all know that raw cacao or cocoa aren't sweet, so we need to sweeten the mixture. This is where the health benefits get tricky, because if you chow down on too many of these chocolates, you'll still be consuming a lot of sugar. The trick is to just have one or two a day.  The good news is that this chocolate is quite rich, so you may find it more difficult to pig out and eat the whole batch in one go (and if you do: sheesh..... slow down!)

So let's talk about stevia, a natural sugar replacement that doesn't spike insulin levels.  I don't like it. Not one little bit.  When I added it to my lovely, chocolatey, velvety liquid it turned it all  thick and gritty and made me pull at cat's bum face.   There is no room for a cat's bum face where my cooking is concerned. But if you like it, go crazy and add it.  I decided on a half-half addition of raw organic agave and raw organic coconut syrup (which will give the chocolate a slight chewy consistency).

The original recipe made only half the amount of chocolate, but my family (ahem, me) all devour it so quickly that I always double the recipe. Sometimes I use half the mixture for chocolate in moulds and pour the other half over goji berries and organic dessicated coconut on a metal tray. Mmmm.

1/2 cup coconut oil
1 1/3 cup raw cacao, sifted
3-4 tablespoons organic dark agave syrup
3-4 tablespoons organic coconut syrup
Peppermint oil/orange oil if you like

Gently melt coconut oil over a low heat until just melted and turn off heat immediately. Stir in sifted cacao and mix well.  Add sweeteners and stir. The mixture will thicken but should still be liquid enough to pour into the silicon moulds with a couple of teaspoons.

Pour into silicon chocolate moulds. 

Freeze for around 20 minutes.  Pop out of moulds whilst still frozen and return to freezer or fridge.

And here is the chocolate with goji berries and coconut:

Make sure you keep it in the fridge because in warm weather the coconut oil will become just that: oil and your chocolate will be a mere puddle of its former self. Enjoy - and if you find any excellent natural sweeteners in your travels, let me know.

Oh, and yey for Twitter, the internet, blogs and all that stuff.

[P.S. I forgot to mention the reason this chocolate is "raw" is because the raw vegan community regards raw food as that which has not been heated beyond 46 degrees celcius (115F). As the coconut oil is only gently melted this doesn't take it over 46 degrees.]

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