Have you ever tried raw chocolate or even better still, tried to make our own? It isn’t half as difficult as you may think.
I can still remember a few years ago when I ordered my first ever bag of raw cacao powder from the internet. I was soooo excited! Because I have a seriously sweet tooth and I love chocolate. I couldn’t wait to open the bag and taste this amazing, super nutritious stuff.
And then… Disappointment. It was so bitter. Of course it was. It was raw cacao powder, on its own. Not paired up with a whole load of sugar, cacao butter and other stuff. I don’t really know what I was expecting. Seriously. It kind of shows how hardwired our taste expectations are too, doesn’t it? Have you ever had a similar experience? Our taste buds seems to so be closely connected to our sense of smell, and any previous taste experiences are safely stored for future reference in out memory.
Perhaps this was once a form of protection, essential to survival? I do remember reading somewhere that taste is strongly linked to an innate recognition of the safety of eating plants growing wild in nature. If something doesn’t taste pleasant we are less likely to swallow it. We are much more likely to spit it out instead. Which comes in very handy if the food is actually a poisonous one!
I often hear people say “I don’t like this”. ” I don’t like that, it’s too bitter (or not sweet enough!)”. The thing is, our taste buds are a bit like the rest of our body, they can change and develop with practice. There’s lots of foods I didn’t like a few years ago but which are now clear favourites. Things like ginger, beetroot and tahini where not exactly love at first sight for me. Instead the flavor-relationship with these foods have gradually evolved and deepened over time. You really need to persist and keep trying things for a good few times before you completely dismiss a new food. Practice. Patience. Persistence. Like with so many other things in life.
This recipe is a creation I came up with after a little conversation and inspiration on Instagram. I have experimented with raw chocolate for a few months and some experiments has been less than successful. Others a little better. I came across the stunning feed of Ditte Ingemann (@ditsen) and she has by far one of my favourite Instagram accounts. She also has a lovely website, in Danish. Anyway, one day Ditte posted this gorgeous picture of some raw chocolate which she had adapted from another recipe. She kindly gave me the bones of the recipe and her ingredients and I took it from there, using what I happened to have to hand.
If you are trying to cut down on sugar but not on flavour, then this chocolate might be for you. I have found maple syrup to work best when you make raw chocolate like this. It gives the cacao a lovely sweetness without being overpowering and integrates quiet easily with the fats. The ingredients for making raw chocolate at home, may not be the cheapest but on the upside, you’ll get something that is so jam-packed with flavour that a little goes a long way really.
We are using a combination of coconut oil and cacao butter here. This will give you a less snappy chocolate than if you are using cacao butter alone. For a cheaper alternative you can of course use coconut oil on its own. However you will end up with a very soft end product and since it will melt rather fast you will need to store it in the freezer rather than the fridge. This chocolate will be way too soft if you leave the it hanging around for too long at room temperature. Somehow, I doubt this will be a problem though…
Easy Peasy Peanut Butter Chocolate
Makes about 30 squares
50g cacao butter
2 heaped tbsp coconut oil – raw & cold pressed
1 heaped tbsp crunchy peanut butter – swap for any other nut butter if you want
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp maple syrup – depending on desired sweetness
A tiny pinch of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
Melt the coconut oil, peanut butter and cacao butter in a bowl over a pan hot water. Once the fats are fully melted and liquid add in the maple syrup and the raw cacao powder. Stir for a minute or two until you have a really smooth cacao mix. Taste and add a little more maple syrup if you still think it is too bitter. Add in the pinch of salt. Remove the bowl from the stove and pour it all on to a tray lined with parchment paper. Let the mix cool slightly before transferring it to the fridge to set. After a few hours take the tray out and cut your chocolate into small-ish squares.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Your raw chocolate will keep for a few days in the fridge. Probably longer in the freezer.
*NB. This chocolate has a very short list of ingredients. Check how many your usual bar has next time you are temped to buy one…
P.S Our firs Blogiversary is coming up next month so there is sure to be more chocolate involved then 🙂 Oh and there will be a great give away too!! I can’t wait to celebrate with you all.
Just incase one Christmas treat recipe wasn’t enough, here is a second one. I’m still making a few give-away treats, so just so glad I got all my presents bought early. Apart from making the last few presents I am all set for the holidays now. Just have to pack my suitcase and then I am ready to return to my roots for a few days. I look forward to spend some time with my family back in Sweden. Even though I have lived more than 10 years in Ireland now, I can’t get into the Christmas spirit in the same way here. Perhaps it is just the fact that it’s not cold enough. Not that I’m complaining (!) but it does not feel like “real” winter when it is 10 degrees and raining…
This recipes is from a Swedish cookbook I got as a present from my mother a few years ago. The book ticks all the right boxes to earn a place on one of my bookshelves (which are overloaded at this stage). The recipes are straightforward, using wholesome ingredients and with mouthwatering pictures. I really am such as sucker for good food photography! And cookbooks. At this rate I am afraid to count how many I have! Next year I won’t buy any. Or maybe just one. Or two… Select ones. Is it just me or is there other people like me who collects (cook)books?
So back to the recipe. This is a non bake fruit and nut “cake”. It is decadent, yet not too sweet and packed with goodness from all that fruit and nuts. Serve it as a treat with a cup of tea or coffee. Why not a slightly bigger slice as an alternative dessert for Christmas dinner? If you are looking for a gluten free alternative to the traditional pudding and trifle, then this is it. You can soak the dried fruit in some brandy/rum/whiskey and no one is missing out on the booze either 😉 To make it dairy free I have used coconut milk instead of cream. Either works fine. To get the most out of this special chocolate extravaganza, don’t skimp on the quality of the chocolate. Use at least 70%. Then ditch the tin of Cadbury’s Roses and indulge in something far more satisfying.
As the original recipe is in Swedish, I have translated it for anyone who does not speak the lingo
Fruit & Nut Truffle Cake
Makes one bread loaf tin
400g dark chocolate – At least 70%
150 ml cup cococnut milk
1/2 cup hazelnuts – Toasted if preferred
1/2 cup walnuts or pistachios
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
½ cup dried fruit such as rasins, figs or cranberries – Or a mix of all three
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once the chocolate is fully melted add in the cream and stir until well combined. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until evenly coated. Pour the chocolate mix into a lined bread loaf tin and put it into the fridge for a few hours to set. Once the truffle has set take it out of the tin and cut into small squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The truffle will keep for a week. If it lasts!
Recipe barley adapted from Catherine Shuck’s Mer Nauturligt, friskare, piggare, smalare – ny mat med lågt GI
P. S. If you are looking for more ideas on homemade gifts check out these lovely suggestions from some of my favourite blogs.
Infused Syrup Gift Jars – from My New Roots
DIY Almond Butter with chocolate – from A Tasty Love Story
Christmas Granola – from Green Kitchen Stories
Chocolate! Who doesn’t love chocolate? Well one thing is for sure, I certainly do! The thing is though, it is usually full of refined sugar, cheap vegetable oils and not a whole lot of goodness, so it it hard to justify eating it if you are trying to eat clean. The other thing is that it is impossible to get off the blood sugar roller coaster ride when we constantly snack on sugary foods. And yes poor quality chocolate is one of them…
You may or may not have heard about blood sugar balancing. It is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do to improve our health. Every time we eat, the energy from the food we eat is converted into blood glucose so it can be transported into the cells for energy. The blood glucose levels are tightly regulated by various hormones as too much glucose in the blood as well as too little can be dangerous. Insulin is the hormone released from the pancreas to help transport the converted energy (glucose) from the food we ate, into the cells. This is all perfectly normal and as it should be. Once we start to run out of energy our blood sugar will drop and a hormonal signalling system kicks in to tell us it is time to eat again. However, the rapid increase in blood sugar levels will depend on the type of food we eat. Anything that is packaged as nature intended, with fibres intact, food with a high fat content or food with a high protein content will only rise the blood sugar levels moderately.
Carbohydrate foods have the highest impact on blood sugar levels as the body will have to work harder to convert fat and protein into sources of energy. But it is not as simple as that. The type of Carbohydrates plays a huge role. The quickest forms of sugar are highly refined sources of carbohydrates where the chemical structure of the molecules come in the form that is the preferred form for the body to use. This is glucose and fructose. When we drink things like soft drinks or eat sugary sweets, the blood sugar rises rapidly and any excess energy which is not used up, will be very cleverly converted to fat. The other thing is that these refined products, (think white pasta, white rice and cakes, biscuits made with white flour) is both stripped of nutrition and fibre which makes it extremely easy to over consume quantities as they don’t make us feel full either.
The following problem is that the rapid rise in blood glucose is usually triggered by a drop below optimal levels, which will trigger hunger. And then we tend to go looking for more sweet things… So the cycle continues. Getting off the blood sugar roller coaster is not easy for several reasons. But I will leave that topic for another post.
Our tastebuds tends to get hooked on the flavour and anything less sweet is not as as rewarding. With this recipes, which is an adapted version of the lovely Liz Nolan’s recipes, you can kind of have the cakes and eat it too. The brownies are packed with seeds, sweetened with honey and full of intense flavour from the dark chocolate and the raw cacao. Be sure to use local raw honey, if you can. These little raw bites are easy to make. They are packed with seeds so the fat and the protein from the seeds will lower the rate your blood sugar will rise, not setting you off on the blood sugar roller coaster. Of course the seeds and the raw cacao will give you a nutrition boost too. And I promise they will also satisfy your sweet tooth. So all in all, pretty guilt free 🙂 As long as you don’t have them all in one go, of course…
Raw Chocolate Fudge Brownies
Makes about 20 small squares
100g sesame seeds – Can be substituted for milled linseeds
200g ground almonds
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp tahini – Can be substituted for any other nut butter such as cashew, almond or hazelnut butter
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 heaped tbsp raw honey
150g melted dark chocolate min 70% cocoa solid
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Grind the sesame seeds in a coffee grinder until fine and mix with the ground almonds in a bowl. Stir in the cacao powder, dessicated coconut, cinnamon and chia seeds.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and then add the tahini and coconut oil and the honey. Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the dry mixture and mix well. Spoon into a lightly oiled baking tray or dish and press down till smooth.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours until firm then cut into small squares and store in an airtight box in the fridge.