If you consider yourself a real chocolate lover, but also like to eat healthy, this is the perfect place for you. Who ever said you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Of course you can, and to prove it, we decided to teach you how to make chocolate, and adjust it to your taste.
The benefits of cocoa
They say the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, but if your addiction is to chocolate you may just be able to skip the steps all together. That’s right, chocolate has a ton of really awesome health benefits. No more guilty pleasure. Chocolate is a health food now!
Just remember: The healthiest chocolates are the ones with the highest amounts of cocoa (The darker the chocolate, the better. Pure cocoa from the bean is best.), the ones with no hydrogenated oils or preservatives and the ones made from your heart right at home. We decided to list some of the benefits you reap from eating this delicious food.
1. Nutrient packed!
Dry, unsweetened cocoa powder has tons of essential vitamins and minerals. It is especially high in dietary fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. It is also high in potassium, selenium and zinc. It contains no cholesterol and is naturally low in sodium. Cocoa even has 1.1 grams of protein per 1 tbsp! The only major downside is that it is high in saturated fat.
2. Potent antioxidant!
Pure cocoa from the seed is one of the most potent and powerful antioxidants on the planet! Antioxidants fight free radicals and rid your body of harmful pollutants.
3. Chocolate sunscreen!
Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you smear cocoa powder all over your body (Although, that does sounds surprisingly amazing). We’re just suggesting you remember to eat a good amount of cocoa before your next sunny vacation. Some studies show that those who consumed dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks had doubled their natural sun protection!
4. Anti-inflammatory! (Lowers the risk of stroke)
It turns out that certain types of gut bacteria like to eat components in cocoa powder, which ferments them and creates anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue leading to reduced risk of stroke! Thank you, Chocolate!
5. Stress reducer!
It’s not just the taste that makes us feel so good. Chocolate has a good amount of niacin which is known to help reduce stress!
6. Food for your skin!
Cocoa powder is becoming a new popular ingredient in many beauty products because of high mineral and antioxidant content. You can easily make a DIY home cocoa mask with just a few simple ingredients which is said to smooth fine lines and remove impurities!
Here are 4 yummy chocolate recipes to keep you satisfied. One for milk chocolate, one for dark chocolate, one for white chocolate and a bonus fudge recipe for the serious chocolate addicts! Add your favorite nuts or dried fruits to any of these for added flavor!
1. Easy: Homemade white chocolate
- 8 oz raw organic cocoa butter (food grade) or 1 cup
- 1 cup organic powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered milk (look for powdered milk in a very fine powder… or grind it until it is very fine, in a blender or coffee grinder.)
- 2 vanilla beans; (scrape out that vanilla caviar and add it), and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (alcohol based) or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (alcohol based) if you don’t use any vanilla bean.
- Place the cocoa butter in a double boiler or a bowl placed over a pan of water on a burner turned to medium heat.
- Add the powdered sugar and powdered milk, stirring as it begins to melt. Next, add the vanilla. Stir well to make sure sugar and powdered milk are dissolved.
- Pour into chocolate molds (I coated them with cooking spray, which probably isn’t necessary if you use the silicone molds, but the hard plastic molds seemed to need the help in releasing.)
- Allow the chocolate to harden for several hours; You can refrigerate for 10-20 minutes to finish the hardening or leave at room temperature for longer. Turn out on parchment paper.
2. Expert: Dark chocolate (from scratch)
Since we’re making chocolate from scratch here, there isn’t much you need in terms of ingredients, except for the actual cocoa beans and some granulated white sugar! You can also add something extra if you’re not a fan of plain chocolate.
As for the actual cocoa beans, you’ll want to get unroasted if the roasting process if something you want to do yourself. If not, purchase pre-roasted beans and skip the roasting part of the instructions.
- 1 pound of whole cocoa beans
- Granulated white sugar
1. Roasting the beans:
(If you bought roasted cocoa beans, this is the part you can skip. If you decided to go with unroasted, this part is essential, so stay with us!)
Roasting the cocoa beans is what brings out that chocolaty flavor. It also makes the shells of the bean easy to crack so you can actually extract the cocoa nibs from inside. These nibs, or little flakes of cocoa bean, are what you’ll make the chocolate out of.
Start by preheating your oven to about 250 or 300 degrees. Then, prep the cocoa beans by spreading them out on an ungreased, unlined baking sheet in a single layer. Don’t cut or try to de-shell the beans, just create a good, even layer of them on the sheet and wait until the oven preheats.
Once it’s reached the desired temperature, pop the baking sheet full of cocoa beans in the oven and set your timer for about 20 minutes. You won’t be pulling them out after the 15 minutes, but if you’re just getting started, it’s good to get a handle on how long the beans need to be left in and what to look out for.
Give them a glance at the 15-20 minute point, and if they don’t smell like chocolate yet and they haven’t started to crack, give it another 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn.
After about 30 minutes total, remove the baking sheet and turn the oven off. Put the tray of cocoa beans in front of a fan or leave on the counter to cool off.
2. Remove the shells:
This is the part where some specialized equipment might come in handy, but doing it manually can be a fun experience too. Once the cocoa beans have cooled sufficiently, get to work cracking open the shells and removing the bean inside, keeping the shells and the chocolate nibs separate.
This is a repetitive task – if you’re starting to think making chocolate from scratch isn’t your thing, why not learn how to do something else?
3. Create cocoa liquor:
Setup your juicer with containers to catch the product of both the “juice” and “pulp” ports. Feed the cocoa bean nibs into the juicer, a little at a time. Most of what you insert will come out as “pulp.” Do not throw this away. Continue adding and re-adding the “pulp” until the juicer begins to output through the “juice” port.
This happens because the refining process creates heat, which melts the cocoa butter inside the cocoa bean. You’ll want to continue adding the contents of the “pulp” output until the only thing it’s spitting out is the stray cocoa bean husk that you missed while de-shelling them.
4. Determine chocolate percentage:
Bust out the kitchen scale, and weigh the cocoa liquor. The amount of granulated sugar you’re going to add to your recipe is determined by how strong you want your dark chocolate. To figure out this measurement, find the weight of your cocoa liquor in grams, and divide it by the percentage you want, then multiply that by 30. That’s how many grams of sugar you need.
Measure the sugar and grind it into a powder in the coffee grinder. (Do not buy powdered sugar, since this contains cornstarch, and will ruin your homemade chocolate.) Mix up your chocolate and sugar in a bowl. This is when you can add in any nuts like almonds or cashews.
5. Prepare the Chocolate
Now all that’s left to do is put your chocolate onto an ungreased, lined cookie sheet and place it in the fridge. You can use any kind of shape you want: small circles, bars – you can even use cookie cutters or other molds to help give the chocolate shape. The chocolate will be done once it’s solidified.
3. Easy: Homemade (milk) chocolate recipe
- Cocoa powder – 5 tbsps
- Milk powder – 1 1/4 cups
- Butter – 1/4 cup
- Sugar – 2/3 cup
- Water – 1/2 cup
- Sieve milk powder and cocoa powder and keep aside.
- Heat water and sugar in a vessel and bring to a boil. Reduce flame and continue cooking until the syrup reaches one string consistency. Add the butter and mix well until it melts and blends with the syrup. Turn off the heat.
- Add the cocoa-milk powder mixture gradually (a few tbsp at a time) and mix well until glossy. Grease square pan or plate. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Allow to set for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature.
- Place pan in fridge for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from fridge and use a cookie cutter to cut into desired shape.
- Wrap them in colored papers and give as a gift to family and friends.
- You can add crushed nuts of your choice.
- You can add 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence at the time of adding butter. Alternately, 2 tsps of strong coffee mixture can be added.
- If using cinnamon, add 1/4 tsp to the cocoa-milk mixture and sieve.
- To check for one string consistency of sugar syrup – allow the sugar to dissolve in water. Continue to cook the syrup on low flame. It will begin to thicken. When you touch the syrup between your forefinger and thumb, a thin string will form and it should not break. If it breaks, the syrup should simmer for a little while longer.
4. Intermediate: Hershey’s old fashioned rich cocoa fudge recipe
-3 cups sugar
-2/3 cup cocoa
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1 1/2 cups whole milk, no substitute
-1/4 cup real butter, no substitute
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Line 8 or 9 inch square pan with foil; butter foil.
- In large heavy saucepan stir together the first three ingredients; stir in milk, with a wooden spoon.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full rolling boil.
- Boil without stirring, to 234 degrees F on a candy thermometer (or until syrup, when dropped in very cold water forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water). Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of pan. (This can take 20-30 minutes).
- Remove from heat. Add butter & vanilla.
- DO NOT STIR! Cool at room temperature to 110 degrees F (lukewarm). (This can take 2 to 2-1/2 hours).
- Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens & loses some of its gloss. (This can take 15-20 minutes. It really works best if you have someone to ‘tag-team’ with.) It starts to look more like frosting than a thick syrup when it is ready.
- Quickly spread into prepared pan; cool.
- Cut into squares.
- Store wrapped loosely in foil in the refrigerator.
- It is very important not to use a wire whisk or the fudge will not set up. Also just stir gently, even though the cocoa will stay floating on top, it will mix in as the mixture heats up.
We hope you give these yummy chocolate recipes a try and tell us how you like them. Share with us how you’ve made them on your own and any tips and tricks for future readers! Don’t forget to like and share on your favorite social media platforms to show your friends what you’ve been up to!