This is the second time I've had a wonderful guest post from Gemma Hodgson, and what's not to love about this one?! Her previous post was Why Grow Your Own Sprouts and it was so full of great information and healthy benefits, that I couldn't resist when she offered to also do this one on how to make your own chocolate. Take it away amazing Gemma!
Make Your Own Raw Chocolate! It’s Easy!
Lucky for the billions of chocolate lovers around the world, numerous studies have established that yes, chocolate can actually be good for you. One study published in May, 2017 in the journal Heart by researchers at Harvard, found that the consumption of moderate amounts of dark chocolate was linked to a significantly lower risk of atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat that can be deadly). The researchers concluded, “Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake and highlights the importance of behavioral factors for potentially lowering the risk of arrhythmias.”
Other research has pointed to many more benefits of dark chocolate – including its incredibly high magnesium content. Raw cacao is actually rich in iron, PEA (a compound thought to enhance mood and energy levels), and flavonoids –known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Fascinating studies have pointed out that chocolate can improve cognitive performance, reduce the likelihood of stroke, play an important role in preventing memory decline, reduce levels of bad cholesterol (and raise levels of good cholesterol) and even promote beautiful skin (because of its flavonoid content). The sky is the limit when it comes to the benefits of chocolate, yet often, the type we consume, is far from healthy.
What is the Problem with Chocolate?
Most commercially accessible chocolate (especially milk chocolate) contains inordinate amounts of refined sugar, which promotes insulin resistance, is bad for heart health, and causes tooth decay. So bad is sugar for the teeth that dentists are currently recommending that children avoid bottled juice, since the high sugar content tends to stick to teeth and cause decay, often leading to painful, expensive procedures which would be so easy to avoid by consuming a more nutritious diet. Milk chocolate, which melts easily, also poses a high risk for tooth health.
The average milk chocolate actually contains very little cacao – it tends to comprise 50 per cent white sugar and 35 per cent milk solids – how much room does this actually leave for the cacao itself? The high sugar content means that the bad actually outweighs the good. The best way to reap all the benefits of the potent cacao bean, is to make your very own raw chocolate. Raw chocolate actually contains three times more antioxidants than green tea. By avoiding dairy (which blocks antioxidant absorption), we can make our favorite treat even healthier. In addition to containing a wealth of flavonoids, raw chocolate is also high in fiber (which makes us feel full and which therefore can be of aid in a weight loss diet), in anandamides (which boost mood and promote a sense of well being), and sulphur (a mineral that can aid in making our skin, hair and nails strong and beautiful).
Best of all, raw chocolate is so easy to make! Follow our basic recipe below:
Ingredients (serves 6)
8 tablespoons cocoa butter
4 tablespoons cocoa liquor
2/3 cup raw cocoa powder
8 tablespoons raw honey
pinch of Himalayan salt
* any additional ingredients you would like such as raw nuts, goji berries or other dried fruit
Sift the raw cocoa powder and set aside. Melt the cocoa butter in one pan and the cocoa liquor in another pan; use the boiler method for both to ensure the chocolate is not cooked but just melted. Mix the cocoa butter and liquor in a bowl, adding the honey until the mixture is smooth. Add the raw cocoa power and salt and mix again. If you like citrusy flavours, add an edible, therapeutic grade essential oil like bergamot or mandarin – use just one drop, as essential oils are very potent and you wouldn’t want them to overtake the chocolatey taste.
You can add any additional ingredients at this stage; some people love to chunk up their chocolate with anything from raw cashews to dried blueberries. Pour your chocolate mix into a mold – you can use any silicone mold you like, to make rectangular shaped bars, or mini bonbons.
The good news is that you won’t have to wait to long to sample your little big of heaven, since the chocolate will harden in as little as 10 or 15 minutes! If you like to blend fruit with chocolate, take large, ripe strawberries and dip them into the chocolate then place in the fridge until the chocolate hardens – the result will be so decadent, you’ll find it hard to believe it’s actually good for you!
Thank you so much for sharing this Gemma! Now everyone can make more chocolate! What's not to love about that?!
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess