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Chocolate. Chocolate gets such a bad rap for being a sugary junk food, but that is far from the truth. Now granted, your typical store bought “chocolate” is not the way it was intended. Pumped up with additives, flavorings, and sometimes even hydrogenated oils. But real chocolate is made of super healthy superfoods, including cocoa powder (cocoa solids) and cocoa butter (cocoa fat). In this post, you will learn How to Make Homemade Chocolate that is both healthy and delicious. Even better, this recipe is vegan and paleo, so pretty much everyone can give it a try!
Why Make Your Own Chocolate?
There are many potential benefits to making your own chocolate. First, it is easy! With only 3 main ingredients, homemade chocolate is one of the most simple things you can make. Secondly, it is healthier. Homemade means no weird additives or high fructose corn syrup. Using just the raw, natural ingredients, your homemade chocolate is pure and healthful. Lastly, making your own chocolate is cheaper. Some of the best, pure chocolate is ungodly expensive. Trust me, they are worth it (Askinose anyone?), but I can’t afford to buy that chocolate very often. Thus, after investing in the ingredients, you will be able to make plenty of homemade chocolate for a fraction of the cost per ounce.
What Makes Chocolate Healthy?
Chocolate is made from the cocoa bean (Kakao) which grows naturally in equatorial regions around the globe (1). A tropical plant, the large pods hold cocoa beans. The beans are roasted, fermented, and processed to remove the fats and solids, which are then used to make chocolate (1).
Cocoa, both solids and fat, contain Cocoa Mass Polyphenols (CMP), an polyphenol found exclusively in cocoa. These special polyphenols are incredibly powerful antioxidants, which has research proven health benefits including boosting the immune system, reducing risk of diabetes and insulin resistance, and promotes an anti-inflammatory response in the body (2). Cocoa also contains high levels of catechins, a flavanol which increase blood flow, promotes healing, and enhances the skin’s ability to fight aging and skin damage (2). Due to these powerful phytochemicals, the body is able to effectively fight free radicals, thus reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, including colon cancer (3).
Eating chocolate (within reason) is an excellent way to amp up your consumption of these vital and healthful antioxidants. Try to stick with dark chocolate and avoid commercial brands that contains preservatives and other additives.
The 3 Ingredients in Homemade Chocolate
- Cocoa Powder– the dried solids of the cocoa bean after roasting, fermenting, and removal of the cocoa butter (fat). Cocoa powder can be either natural or “dutch processed,” which means it is alkalized with a potassium carbonate to reduce acidity (4). The powder contains the highest amounts of the beneficial antioxidants (polyphenols and flavanols). It also provides the distinct chocolate flavor (bitterness and earthiness) and the flavor depends on the type of cocoa powder (or cocoa bean) used (4).
- Cocoa Butter– is the cream colored fat that is removed from the cocoa bean after roasting and fermenting. It does not contain any dairy despite it’s term “butter.” Cocoa butter provides the creamy texture and smoothness to the chocolate (5). It has a strong chocolate aroma but is nearly flavorless. Cocoa butter contains CMP and other antioxidants, but in lower levels than cocoa powder (5). While completely edible, cocoa butter is also an excellent moisturizer and can be used in various skin applications.
- Honey– the sugar product collected from the nectar of flowers combined with the enzymes in a bees’ stomach. This natural sweetener is often liquid or semi-liquid in form. Honey is highly beneficial as it is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, high in antioxidants, helps stabilize blood sugar levels, contains probiotics, and helps improve immune functioning (6). Raw, local honey is preferred to get the most benefits.
Tips for Chocolate Making
- You can chill your chocolate faster by sticking it in the fridge for 15 minutes once poured
- Molds can be found cheap at thrift stores and can be reused for making lotion bars or bath bombs
- If you don’t have a mold, use muffin tins or a cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper)
- Do not overheat the cocoa butter as this will deteriorate some of the health benefits
- If the honey is very thick, as some raw honey can be, melt it with the cocoa butter
- Use a whisk to quickly mix ingredients together
- You can add extra ingredients to experiment: try nuts, cocoa nibs, maca root powder, or sprinkle with sea salt
What are your thoughts on this natural chocolate recipe? Have you ever tried to make chocolate at home? I would love to hear your feedback, questions, and comments below. Thanks for reading!