naturally sweetened chocolate, two ways

naturally sweetened chocolate // the muffin myth

Paul and I have travelled at Christmas time every year for the past five years, and so have chosen to forego gifts in favour of experiences. This year is no exception. Last night we splurged out on a dinner out to celebrate Christmas together – dining out isn’t something we do very often, let alone on a weeknight, so it was a real treat. We’re spending Christmas apart this year for the first time ever in our decade together, so it was a bit of a bittersweet celebration, but lovely nonetheless.

When I’m not doing experiences-as-gifts, I tend to favour those that are homemade or consumable. Or better yet, homemade AND consumable.

naturally sweetened chocolate // the muffin mythThere’s always homemadevanilla extract – and hey, if you haven’t started a batch yet you could still put some vanilla beans in a pretty jar, cover them with vodka, and give the recipient instructions to strain it out a couple of months down the road. Great gift! Also in my gift giving repertoire this year is going to be little bars of homemade naturally sweetened chocolate.

You guys, making your own naturally sweetened chocolate from scratch at home is SO EASY! It’s as simple as melting cocoa butter over gentle heat, then whisking in cocoa powder (I used an organic raw cocoa powder) and a sweetener. I’m sharing two versions here, one sweetened with pureed dates and the other with honey.

naturally sweetened chocolate // the muffin myth

I sampled my first couple of batches around the office, and while everyone liked both versions the honey sweetened was the clear favourite. Still, the date version deserves attention, and if you want to make chocolate that is completely raw and vegan it’s a star. Neither version is tempered, so the chocolate is slightly softer than a conventional chocolate bar would be when at room temperature. Storing it it in the fridge easily solves this – though in my mind it’s far from a problem. 

Chocolate is a blank canvas for adding flavours you like. The chocolate in the lead photo here is flavoured with chipotle powder and fleur de sel, and I’ve added a small sprinkle of chilli flakes over the top so that the heat isn’t a surprise. I really hope you try this out, and let me know what flavour combinations you come up with!

MM_Know_Icon_FINALYou’re eating chocolate! What a treat! And the best part is that it’s all natural home made chocolate without any scary additives. This is the real deal! Cocoa butter is still very high in fat, so eat this chocolate in moderation as you would with any other chocolate. Well, maybe slightly less moderation. Enjoy it! Raw Cocoa is antioxidant rich, and the flavanoid content appears to be helpful in protecting blood vessel linings and thus preventing high blood pressure.

naturally sweetened chocolate // the muffin myth

One year ago: Spicy Chocolate Snickerdoodles
Two years ago: Cooked Eggnog

naturally sweetened chocolate, two ways
 
The date chocolate is delicious and I hope you try it out! The texture is a bit different since dates make up a large portion of the ingredients, but I think it's a really lovely treat. And it melts in your mouth just like any other chocolate does! Be warned, the texture seems a bit gritty when the chocolate is fluid still, but once it sets it becomes much smoother. Make sure you get the softest possible dates - you can't soak them in water to soften as it will make the chocolate seize up. Fresh Medjool dates have worked beautifully for me. Honey Sweetened Chocolate is much darker and much more intense than the date version. I love to mix a bit of chipotle powder and sprinkle the top with a bit of sea salt, but you can take it in any direction you want.
Author:
Ingredients
  • Date sweetened chocolate:
  • 100g very soft pitted dates
  • 85g cocoa butter
  • 50g raw cocoa powder
  • seeds scraped from ½ a vanilla bean (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)
  • Honey sweetened chocolate:
  • 100g cocoa butter
  • 100g raw cocoa powder
  • 80g local organic honey, optionally raw
  • seeds scraped from ½ a vanilla bean (optional)
  • ½ tsp chipotle powder (optional)
  • fleur de sel and chilli flakes for sprinkling (optional)
Instructions
  1. Line a loaf pan (narrow, if possible) with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dates a few times and then run the food processor until they are very pureed - my dates always form a ball at this stage.
  3. Melt the cocoa butter over a double boiler, or a heat-proof bowl over boiling water (or, real talk, I've melted my cocoa butter in the microwave and it works just fine).
  4. Add the melted cocoa butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, and sea salt to the dates, and run the food processor until everything is well combined and very smooth.
  5. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared loaf pan.
  6. Sprinkle with any toppings you like, and set in the fridge to chill.
  7. Once the chocolate is set you can let it sit at room temperature, and use a sharp knife to slice it into little bars. Store at room temperature or in the fridge.
  8. For the Honey Sweetened Chocolate:
  9. Line a loaf pan (narrow, if possible) with parchment paper and set aside.
  10. Melt the cocoa butter and honey together over a double boiler, or a heat-proof bowl over boiling water (or, real talk, I've melted my cocoa butter in the microwave and it works just fine).
  11. Whisk in the cocoa powder, vanilla, and any mix-ins like chipotle powder.
  12. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared loaf pan.
  13. Sprinkle with any toppings you like, and set in the fridge to chill.
  14. Once the chocolate is set you can let it sit at room temperature, and use a sharp knife to slice it into little bars.
  15. Store at room temperature or in the fridge.

 

Comments

  1. says

    Wow…homemade chocolate bars, and I love how you packaged them. So cute! I bet your homemade vanilla makes this chocolate. I’m hearing you on the homemade and/or consumable gifts…especially if it is chocolate. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas :)

  2. Pauline says

    Yay- looking forward to trying your homemade vanilla. THANK YOU! Katie, you don’t have to ship. Maybe on your next trip to Gibsons?

  3. says

    I’ve not tried making chocolate at home before but you’ve convinced me to give it a go – I love the idea of being able to customise it however you like!

  4. says

    I don’t know why I missed this but it would have been a great pressie to add to the ones I was already making for family and friends. I think I would love both of them. PS I have made the vanilla extract. It is infusing nicely on a dark shelf, minding its own business. Thanks for all of these lovely ideas. I hope you get to spend New Year’s with Paul x

    • says

      Glad you’ve got some vanilla steeping! You won’t regret it. This year I’m spending New Year’s with British Airways, and I’ll be catching up with Paul on the 6th or 7th. Looking forward to 2014 and all that it holds! Happy New Years, Kellie!

  5. says

    Your chocolate sounds INCREDIBLE. Amazing flavours, love the fact that it’s pure, unadulterated, naturally sweetened chocolate bliss! I’ve tried a couple of raw and vegan chocolates before but I had no idea how to make anything similar at home. Trying these soon. Thanks for sharing the recipes. Happy new year, I look forward to reading many more inspiring posts from you! Here’s hoping that you and Paul get to spend more time during the special holiday seasons this year, travelling separately must suck :( x

  6. Amy says

    Would it work to put the chocolate into candy molds and then firm them up in the fridge before popping them out? I have some heart shaped molds I want to use. I’m planning for a healthier Valentine’s Day this year and I would love to try the date sweetened chocolates!

    • says

      Hi Amy, I think that would work, but I can’t be 100% confident because I haven’t tried it myself. But give it a go and let me know how it turns out! FYI, the date sweetened chocolate, while delicious, turns a bit crumbly with time. So I’d make these close to the last minute if possible. Good luck! Let me know how they turn out.

      • Amy says

        Hi again,
        My daughter and I made the date sweetened chocolate tonight and it worked great! We had a taste test – my daughter thought they were delicious, and so did I. I love the texture and the dark chocolate flavor without too much sweetness. They’re just right.

        I used my Blendtec blender with the Wildside jar. I discovered part way through that I would need to double the recipe because of the larger capacity of my jar. Once I doubled everything it worked great. Next time I’ll use my Blendtec twister jar and it will be even easier.

        I was a little unsure my plans would work when I saw the thick texture of the chocolate (I have almost no experience) but the molded chocolates worked great. I just pushed a blob of chocolate into each heart shape, smoothed off the excess with my offset spatula, then put them in the freezer to set. They popped right out and looked nice and smooth on the molded side, even the little flower picture on the front of each heart showed up perfectly.

        We had a lot of chocolate to play with and some little foil red candy wrappers so we made some chocolate cups as well. We made several cups with tart dried cherries in the chocolate and a little cherry pressed into the tops as a decoration. Then we put a little chocolate into the bottom of several more cups, used a finger to form an indent, put a dab of No-Nuts Golden Peabutter (tastes very close to peanut butter) in the middle, and covered it up with more chocolate.

        I’ll definitely be making these again for special occasions! Members of my family are very allergic to soy, nuts/peanuts, and sulphites plus we recently transitioned into a whole foods, plant based diet so this recipe was perfect for our family. Thanks so much for the wonderful resource!

        • says

          Wow, Amy, thanks for the response! I’m really glad it worked out for you – though I’m quite surprised it was so thick. Maybe your dates were a lot drier than mine were or something, because my chocolate was really fluid and pourable. In any case, I’m glad it worked out and was tasty – I’ll have to get my hands on some little chocolate moulds, and I love the idea of making peanutbutter cups. Yum! Really happy you’ve found a whole foods chocolate that you like – there’s just so much garbage in commercial chocolates, isn’t there? :)

          • Amy says

            I’m wondering if the texture changed because I had to stop after adding the cocoa butter and cocoa and then measure everything again to double the recipe before I finished blending. Other than that glitch I followed the recipe exactly.Next time I’ll know to double right away if I’m using my large blender jar. I used medjool dates and they were very soft and fresh, and weighed everything very carefully, so I suspect stopping in the middle is the culprit. Thanks again for the great recipe!

  7. Leon says

    Hi, thanks for a great recipe. Hard to find date-sweetened chocolate recipes out there. I just tried this buy my mixture was never “pourable”. I pureed everything really well but it never really fully emulsified, it was basically an oily date ball. I used a food processor and made sure that no water got into the mix. Any tips for me?

    • says

      Hmm. Bummer it didn’t turn out for you. It’s so hard to say what went wrong without actually being there. The first thing that comes to mind is that your dates were maybe not soft enough. I’ve made this several times with fresh medjool dates and have sometimes even had to firm it up a bit in the fridge before I could work with it. I hope you’ll give it another go and see if you can get it to work!

      • Leon says

        Thanks for the response! It still tastes delicious, so i’ll definitely be making it again. Mine was more of a cosmetic problem :)

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