Chocolate is Easy to Make - Who Knew?
June 20, 2017 | ~9 mins read time.
Smiley Faces!
Smiley Faces!

I had been whining at my... Man, [who shall be referred to from this point forward by the male pronoun, because reasons, and potentially "MoD", because other reasons] about the lack of actual good chocolate available in the United States. You know. Chocolate without 90 additives for storing at room temperature; keeping it 'fresh' for longer [refrigerators and freezers exist, this is sufficient]; and generally keeping the cost down by using a ton of various vegetable oils and who knows what else to get chocolate consistency without actually using a proper amount of cocoa butter. He has a good chocolate source in his country, which is unsurprising, because Europe. Now is probably the time to note that he and I are what could be described as "Chocolate Snobs". As if that wasn't strongly hinted at from the first sentence.

So at some point, a couple of months ago, I found a chocolate recipe online, because I had become annoyed at the lack of good chocolate available, and the cost of importing from a certain place in Europe and another certain place in Canada was prohibitive. I figured if I can make complicated things, chocolate should be doable. It turns out that chocolate is probably the easiest thing in the world to make if you're an attentive person in the kitchen. The recipe I found had 4 core ingredients and some optional ingredients:

  • Cocoa butter [raw]
  • Cocoa powder [raw]
  • Coconut oil
  • Agave syrup
  • Optional ingredients: Basically whatever else you want to eat with your chocolate.

I don't care for agave syrup, and I have reverted to using honey as a sweetener, so I used honey instead of agave syrup. I added unsweetened coconut flakes as well, but the end result was kind of oily, and I suspected that was due to the coconut oil. Then I went searching about some more to find out if the ever-present ingredient of oil in chocolate recipes and bought-chocolate recipes could be eliminated altogether. I discovered that 'proper' chocolate doesn't have any added oils. It is cocoa butter; cocoa powder; your choice of sweetener; and whatever optional ingredients you want to put in, if any.

So I looked around some more and found a recipe that gave the ingredient amounts in grams, except for the sweetener, which was simple enough to convert. I wound up with this:

Ingredients

*** Please see note below re: 'Organic' foods. You don't have to use 'organic' products if you don't want to. I have a somewhat unusual reason for that preference. ***

The ingredients.
The ingredients!

Long Directions [if have never made chocolate]

  1. Chop or grate cocoa butter; put into a bowl. Grating causes faster melt; chop is for lazy, but not as fast melt.
  2. You need a double-boiler for this. I don't own one, but I do own oven-safe bowls. If you don't have a double-boiler, then get a pot that has a smaller opening, like a sauce pan, and fill it about 1/3 full with water. Turn it on and get it boiling.
  3. While waiting for water to boil, measure out cocoa powder and honey. Measure out the cinnamon at this point as well if using. I do cinnamon to taste, so 1 tbsp is low estimate.
  4. Use heat-resistant glove to hold glass bowl without ouch occurring and either a spatula for moving the cocoa butter around or a whisk. I use a whisk. You'll probably want some paper towel handy as well to swipe condensation off of the side of the bowl.
  5. Tilt bowl slightly in the opening at the top of the pot to let steam escape, and occasionally wipe the moisture away -- you don't want it getting into the cocoa butter. Keep the boil rolling, but not too hard or water will spit at you, and chocolate is all about feeling good, not pain. Unless you like pain with your chocolate, but that's a whole other post topic altogether.
  6. Once cocoa butter has melted, add honey. Mine is nearing that candied state honey can get, so it needs to be liquefied again and blended, thus the reason I use a whisk.
  7. Once honey and cocoa butter is blended, take bowl off pot [or the top of your double-boiler off]. I put a towel or paper towel down on the countertop and wipe away any condensation on the outside of it, just to make it nicer to work with.
  8. Add cocoa powder and blend well. If you're going to put in additives, whatever those are, and in my case a whole lot of cinnamon, this is the time to do it.
  9. Once additives added, turn up heat on double-boiler again enough to get the steam rolling once more and return bowl to it.
  10. Stir for a while longer. 2 or 3 minutes should do it.
  11. Take off heat.
  12. Pour chocolate into moulds. [I have some new silicone moulds, the smiley face mould is pictured above, but you can use anything, really. The first time I made chocolate, I used a mini-bread pan and a larger bread pan. You need to lightly grease things like that, or the chocolate won't come out without breaking. With silicone moulds, the chocolates will pop right out without greasing.] TIP: Put liquid chocolate into some sort of squeeze bottle. Pouring into moulds from measuring cup is, at best, super tedious and prone to disaster. It's a guaranteed disaster if you suffer from heat-induced nonsense like I do, with the shaky hands. More control is better or you'll wind up with more chocolate outside the mould than actually in it.
  13. Put chocolate in moulds into fridge or freezer. I use the freezer, because I have more room for a tray. It also hardens the chocolate faster, and it's easier to transfer into containers for storage in the fridge since it'll be harder than just refrigerated, which means less melt with handling. Especially if it's not exactly cool where you are when removing the chocolate from the moulds. If you put it in the fridge, it will take 3-4 hours to get a good chill on them for handling with minimal melt. If you use the freezer, it only takes about an hour to achieve this result.
Liquid Chocolate.
Liquid Chocolate with Cinnamon: Some of the cinnamon settles at the top of the mould opening, so the bottoms of the chocolates have a slightly bigger cinnamon "bite".

Short Directions [if familiar with chocolate making and/or have used a double-boiler]

  1. Chop/grate cocoa butter.
  2. Melt in double-boiler; make double-boiler with bowl and small pot.
  3. Add honey; blend.
  4. Remove from heat, add optional ingredients; blend.
  5. Put back on heat to ensure full ingredient cohesion; 2-3 mins.
  6. Pour chocolate into moulds.
  7. Put in fridge [~3-4 hours chill/set time] or into freezer [~1 hour chill/set time]
  8. Pop out of moulds.
  9. Put in storage containers for fridge; line with parchment if desired.
  10. Consume at will. Or when told.

It takes about 20 minutes all together to make the chocolate and pour it. It's a nice, easy process. The ingredients are a little on the costly side, but when you consider the benefits of being able to entirely control your ingredients and compare the prices of good chocolate to cost of ingredients, the benefits are enormous. As a note, 'raw' cocoa is not raw, as in unprocessed. The cocoa bean has to be processed to extract the cocoa butter and the cocoa powder. The notable differences between raw cocoa products and regular products are:

  • The health benefits are a bit greater, since the properties of the bean that make it healthful remain more in tact.
  • The fragrance of the cocoa is better preserved in the butter and the powder, so both smell more like chocolate straight out of the bags.
  • There is no bitter taste to the butter and the powder is less bitter than it is when processed faster at higher temperatures.
Set Chocolate.
Set Chocolate - hour in freezer on tray. Tip: Make sure your freezer doesn't have any frost-bitey [super-technical term] smelling things in it and is clean [freezers can get gross]. Otherwise, you could wind up with chocolates laced with weird freezer smells, and that is not conducive to a nice chocolate experience!

With regards to my preferred use of 'organic' foodstuffs: The reason for this isn't necessarily to do with better nutritional value as it is to do with taste, texture, and scent. Though, there is some evidence out there that suggests the quality of nutrients in 'organically produced' food is better.

I grew up in an environment where everyone had a garden, and many had various animals for meat, eggs, and milk sources. "Organic" products provide the flavours and textures I was spoiled with as a kid.

Gardens didn't get treated with concentrated chemicals -- 'natural' means were used to control pests; to fertalise [I will never forget the lovely scent of horse manure and rotted fish grandad would put down before planting]; and to control weeds [you know, the old-fashioned pluck by hand method].

In North Dakota, I've found that my nose often takes me to non-organic produce in the grocery stores. Always, these items are locally sourced, and when I take the time to investigate the farms they come from, I find that these farmers use more traditional methods of farming than huge commercial producers.

It may not be labeled as "organic", but you can tell by the smell, texture, size, and overall quality that it's as close as you'll get without the certification. Given the hassle and cost involved in getting the certification, it's no wonder smaller farms don't have it. It isn't worth the time, effort, or cost to obtain the label.

And to quote myself on the term 'organic':

Until we start eating food-like items made from recycled plastic and infused with essential nutrients, it's going to be a stupid term.

Here. Have some chocolates: