Raw (aka Clean) Chocolate

I’ve never really been a choc-a-holic, but strangely that changed when I learnt that dark chocolate was considered to be somewhat healthy (in small amounts, of course). Oh, and when I realised how easy it is to make at home.

My initial¬†love affair with Lindt 70% and 80% chocolate gave way to instant gratification in the comfort of my own home, as well as feeling uneasy about the other 20-30% of the Lindt ingredients (one of which I’m dismayed to discover is palm oil) ūüė¶

food fervourRaw chocolate recipes weren’t as prolific a few years ago, but I found one on Lee Holmes’ site ‘Supercharged Food’ (link here)¬†and was super surprised at how easy it seemed to be. Luckily a friend had presented me with a packet of organic cacao powder, so I could instantly ditch the more processed-therefore-less-clean cocoa powder in favour of extra nutritional benefit in my ‘treat’.

My very first attempt at raw chocolate comprised cacao powder, coconut oil and dextrose (back in the day, I was seriously anti-fructose‚Ķ I’ve eased off that a bit now‚Ķ opting for less processed ingredients over fructose content.) In fact it was scary how quickly you could make it: almost less time than it takes to get in the car and drive to the shop for the mass-produced,¬†sugar- (and god knows what else-)¬†laden crap.¬†I was so bloody excited about how easy it was to make that I posted a recipe on my first (other) blog,¬†A Life in Words.¬†Here’s¬†the direct link to that if you’d like to take a squizz…

I finally looked into the cacao butter Lee uses only a little of in her recipe: I’d previously thought it was just a body moisturiser. Well, it is the BOMB. Being cacao fat, it tastes like ‚Ķchocolate. Not coconut, surprise-surprise! And unlike coconut oil, cacao butter won’t liquify at 20 degrees, so you won’t have to drink the chocolate from your hands in summer.

It is seriously as easy as this: one part cacao butter to one part cacao powder. Then add your choice of sweetener to taste. In fact, I have found that if making “fruit’n’nut” chocolate, I don’t need any sweetener at all thanks to the natural sugar (& fibre) content of the sultanas.

Let’s start with ¬Ĺ cup of cacao butter and ¬Ĺ cup cacao powder (so if anything goes wrong, you don’t end up wasting too much of these quite costly ingredients). I now prefer to use maple syrup for a sweetener, finding honey¬†too viscous and coconut¬†sugar takes too long to dissolve.

food fervourHow do you know you have half a cup of cacao butter when it comes in ‘chunks’? I kind of solve this in the choice of equipment I use for the first part of the recipe method: Place a small saucepan of hot water (only about 2-3cms deep) on the stove over the lowest heat possible. Place the cacao chunks in a (tempered) glass measuring jug (I use ‘Pyrex’ brand) and sit the jug in¬†the saucepan. Wait for the butter to liquify.

Simply add the equivalent amount of cacao powder and your choice of sweetener, to taste, mixing well (I use a small spatula, to press out any lumps of cacao powder). If you want to add any flavours (spices like vanilla, or essential peppermint oil) you’d do that now as well. A lot of recipes ask you to whisk the ingredients‚Ķ I’ve been too lazy to try that!

The final step for ‘plain’ chocolate is to decide how you’d like to set it.¬†I sometimes use silicone ice cube tray moulds for individual chocolates or, if very lazy, I’ll lay baking paper down on a plate and just pour out the chocolate onto it so that it it will form one big block (that you can break into pieces once set). Once you’ve made your decision, pop the chocolate in the freezer for about half an hour, or the refrigerator if you¬†don’t’ need¬†it for a few hours‚Ķ.

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fruit’n’nut sticks and blueberry hearts

You can experiment to your heart’s content with this: here are some of my ¬†favourite¬†variations:

Blueberry Hearts: I pop some frozen organic blueberries into silicone heart moulds before pouring in the chocolate… same goes for whole Macadamias

Fruit’n’Nut: I put sultanas & peanuts in moulds before I add the chocolate mixture…

Chocolate Bark: I pour the chocolate onto baking paper on a plate, or into a dish ‘oiled’ with coconut oil then sprinkle anything and everything into it, like: chopped nuts, seeds, goji berries, shredded coconut, amaranth puffs‚Ķ go nuts!

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Chocolate ‘Bark’

Milk Chocolate: I recently decided to try adding (organic) milk powder to a chocolate mix and I thought it was so good that I¬†pretty much ate the whole test batch in one go! (This is not to say everyone will agree.)¬†Add approximately half the amount of milk powder to the fresh chocolate mix (so ¬ľ cup or two tablespoons per the measures I provided above, and mix VERY well (it will thicken quickly) to dissolve the powder as well as possible, then set or add stuff as you wish.

Please feel free to share any amazing combinations you concoct!

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Strawberries dipped in raw chocolate

Chicken Massaman

So I had a few chicken tenderloins left in the fridge that HAD to be used, and I realised I hadn’t made a curry in awhile‚Ķand not at all in my Thermomix as yet. So I ‘tweaked’ the Red Thai Chicken Curry recipe in the Everyday Cookbook to suit what I had available.¬†Hmmm, only Massaman curry paste in the fridge? Ok!

Now I could bang on about how much time I saved using my Thermomix (literally 20 minutes in total, including most of the washing up done too) but I know this is going to wear thin pretty quickly, so I’m going to provide the recipe for those who sadly don’t have one.Food Fervour

Curries are REALLY easy if you are a lazy twat like me and buy your curry pastes ready-made. No, I have not actually ever made my own, but I know this won’t be the way forever. In the meantime,¬†I choose carefully when I am buying them pre-made: scouring the ingredient lists for¬†sugars, certain oils and of course additives.

This recipe will only feed one (hungry) person without rice, but may satisfy two if you add that. Remember, I’m not a specific cook so you’ll have to pay attention to the state of your food as it’s cooking.

You will need:

50gm massaman curry paste, 200ml coconut cream/milk, 1-2 kaffir lime leaves, 250-300gm chicken tenderloins (thinly sliced) 1tbspn fish sauce, 60gm roughly chopped snow peas, 80-100gms broccoli florets, 1 zucchini (chopped), 50gms peanuts, 10-15 fresh basil leaves

Grab a large saucepan, and mix the curry paste with about 60mls of the coconut cream/milk over a medium heat, stirring for about 1 minute. Add the remainder of the coconut cream/milk and the lime leaves and bring to a boil. Add the chicken strips and reduce the heat to simmer, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce & vegetables then cover and let simmer for approximately 8 minutes. Add the peanuts & basil, stir and cover again for about 2 minutes, then serve immediately.