Let me start by stating the obvious: I LOVE CHOCOLATE.
As a nutritionist I work with many people who still think that chocolate is only a treat for special occasions- WRONG! Now if your chowing down on a candy bar filled with high fructose corn syrup or even just plain old sugar and all sorts of ingredients your can't pronounce...you are correct- that is not doing your body any good.
However- if you are enjoying some dark chocolate without processed sugar that was made fresh with love- it might as well be a vitamin! PS: The darker the chocolate = the less sugar there is and most dark chocolates are dairy free. Yay!
Cacao has all sorts of health benefits.
has over 10x the antioxidants of blueberries!
is the top plant based source of iron
is filled with Magnesium for a health heart and brain
has more calcium than cow's milk
is a natural mood booster and anti-depressant
is an aphrodisiac
helps balance hormonal mood swings
promotes energy and combats fatigue
helps you burn fat
helps to lower blood sugar naturally
prevents premature aging
And so much more!!
So please, please- NEVER ever feel guilty when you eat cacao!
Note, these studies did not say that Hershey's chocolate bars or Dove chocolates were health promoting- they are singing the praises of raw organic cacao.
So what is difference between cacao and cocoa?
Simply put, cacao is used to describe anything that is made from the cacao bean (butter, nibs, powder, etc). Cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans. On the other hand cocoa powder (think hot cocoa) is made by made by roasting the raw cacao beans at high temperatures. This unfortunately alters the molecular structure which changes the enzyme content and overall reduces the nutritional value.
In summary: go for CACAO.
Now that we know all the glorious health benefits of cacao, the trick is to learn how to make it.
Fortunately it is SO easy that it only takes three ingredients and ten minutes.
How to Make Healthy Chocolate:
with 3 ingredients in less than 10 minutes
You can get as fancy as you want with making chocolate, but for the sake of keeping it easy- let's start with the basics.
You'll need cacao powder (yes you can use cocoa powder, but as explained above cacao offers more nutritional bang for its buck), a fat (cacao butter is best), and a sweetener (a liquid unprocessed sugar is ideal).
In addition, feel free to add sea salt and/ or vanilla extract to kick it up a notch.
Lastly, you have the option to keep it simply dark chocolate or to add in your favorite toppings / flavors. The options are limitless- mix in almond butter, peppermint extract, walnuts, blue berries, salt, etc! Make your dream chocolate come to life.
The best part of all, if you do not need to measure anything!
1) MELT AND MIX FAT + SWEETENER:
Simply remember that chocolate making is a 1:1 ratio. Add a cup of cacao butter and then add a cup of cacao powder. Or add 1/2 cup of cacao butter and 1/2 cup of cacao powder. You get the picture.
2) STIR IN POWDER:
Then simply add the sweetener to your satisfaction, the less sweetener added = the healthier because of the lower sugar content.
3) (OPTIONAL) ADD FLAVORS/TOPPINGS:
Mix in at the end and voilà! Delicious!
Step 1: Fat is life.
Melt the cacao butter. Use a double broiler or simply one small pot inside of a larger pot- place water and bring to a boil in the bigger pot on the bottom and then place the smaller empty pot on top.
Once water in bottom pot is boiling, switch to low heat.
Pour your desired amount of "fat" into the pot.
I recommend cacao butter, however you can also use coconut oil. Keep the heat on low and mix the butter/oil until totally melted.
My favorite base to use for making chocolate is organic raw cacao butter (Divine Organics has the best price I've found) because it does not melt at room temperature.
However, if you don't have cacao butter- try coconut oil.
I love using Dr. Bronners Coconut oil for making chocolate, but be warned- coconut oil does indeed melt at room temperature so you want to keep these chocolate creations in the fridge for storage.
STEP 2: Get sweet, baby!
Add your sweetener. Just add a little and mix in with a whisk or a spoon. Pour in just 1 tablespoon at a time. Add a little and taste as you go. That's the fun part.
Unprocessed liquid sweeteners are best because they melt and mix well with the fat, not to mention they are healthier with more nutrients. If you use a granulated sugar your chocolate may end up grainy versus smooth. No bueno.
In regards to the healthiest sweetener- one of my favorites is coconut nectar.
It has a low glycemic index which supports healthy blood sugar regulation with a GI score of 35 in comparison to white sugar at GI 58-65 and high fructose corn syrup at GI 87.
The lower the glycemic index the lower the blood sugar spike and crash - so you are safe from the sugar rollercoaster that happens with processed sugars.
I love to use Raw Organic Coconut Nectar by Coconut Secrets. However, if you are looking for a cheaper option you can skip the "raw" part in which case Munkijo has a yummy Organic Coconut Nectar.
STEP 3: Mix it all up
Stir in your cacao powder. Turn the heat OFF and add the cacao powder. I use Navitas Organics Cacao Powder. Remember however much fat you added, you will add the same amount of powder. Mix this in with a whisk or a spoon will work also. Keep mixing until totally smooth.
STEP 4: Testing! Testing!
Give your chocolate one final mix and taste test again.
A) Is it too sweet? Mix in a tablespoon more of cacao.
B) Is it too bitter? Mix in a tablespoon more of coconut nectar?
C) Is it too chunky/thick? Turn the heat back on to low and mix in another tablespoon of fat.
D) Perfecto? BRAVO! You are a chocolate making pro!
There is really no "right" way to make chocolate, so follow your heart (and tastebuds) to enjoy the process.
STEP 5: Willa Wonka has nothing on you
Once you are head over heels for the taste of your creation, it is time to get creative.
If you feel so inspired, mix in a flavor/ topping.
You can mix in almond butter or peppermint oil or coconut flakes or chili powder or anything! Have fun with it.
If you want to make multiple flavors of chocolate then divide your chocolate into multiple molds first and then add your flavors.
STEP 6: Pour it out
Now is the time to pour your chocolate into molds so that it can harden. There are multiple options.
1) You can buy a chocolate mold like these that I love from Amazon. Fun shapes that make the chocolate making process a breeze. I admittedly make chocolate a lot and love my molds because they turn my chocolates into perfect bite sizes and I can throw them in the dishwasher.
2) You can use cupcake liners in a muffin pan to hold the shape. Perfect for making Reese's peanut putter type chocolates!
3) You can use the inside of *plastic* tupperware containers. Not glass because you want to be able to "pop" the chocolate out once it is hard.
4) You can use wax paper on top of a baking sheet (or really on top of anything) and just pour the chocolate on top. Note: your chocolate will be more free form since there is no ridge it will be sticking to.
There are probably a gazillion other things you can pour chocolate into or on top of.
Just keep in mind to use food grade silicone like my chocolate molds, wax paper like cupcake liners or plastic because it is bendable and will "pop" the chocolate out.
STEP 7: Ice Ice Baby
Now put your beautiful chocolates into the fridge or freezer.
You are essentially making your melted chocolate hard by putting it in a cold place- so if you are like me, you will want to put your chocolate in the freezer to speed up the wait time!
Wait 10-15 minutes.
STEP 8: MANGIA!
You did it! you made chocolate!
Once your treats are solid after their rest time in the fridge/freezer, you can eat up and FEEL GOOD about this delicious and nutritious treat that you made all by yourself.
Store chocolates in the fridge and enjoy.
This is the cheapest, easiest, fastest, and healthiest way to make chocolate.
No longer will you have to pay for low-grade chocolate from the store. Or only eat chocolate as a special treat on holidays.
Be empowered by the ease of this recipe and explore.
Keep in mind too that if you add healthy toppings like almonds and walnuts then you are making your chocolate last even longer while also giving it a protein boost.
This has become my go to treat to take to potlucks and to share with family because it is so dang easy, healthy, and delicious!
Best part if you can make a boatload of chocolate at once and store in the freezer for safe keeping up to a month. ;)
PS: Kiddos LOVE LOVE to make chocolate too!
Let me know how your chocolate ring adventures go by posting here in my Facebook group or by tagging me @kyriahealth on Instagram.
Cheers to your health,