Tis the Season for Simple Homemade Chocolates

by Wendy

white choc almond barkSimply Delish!  I never knew making chocolate could be so simple!  I am excited to share these two recipes, and some ideas for beautiful chocolate to celebrate the joys of Christmas time!  It is important to remember to savor the sweetness of life.  Christmas is a wonderful season to celebrate the sweet, simple everyday joys we encounter.  The warm smiles, and laughter of your children.  The wonderful carols, playing softly in the background music of life.  The blessings of the year, being counted and reflected upon in our hearts, from years past.  This chocolate embodies the sweetness, and the simplness that we can bring to our lives not only at Christmas time, but all the year through. Remembering the simple, humble beginnings of the birth of Jesus at Christmas time, and the sweet promise of hope his birth brings, gives us joy in our hearts to celebrate sweetly, and simply.

This is the homemade chocolate I posted with the Gingerbread Brownie Bites.  I had so much fun trying out recipes that I just got on a roll and couldn’t stop!  I also whipped up some white chocolate, which I am including as well.  Both chocolates can be used to make homemade almond bark, and homemade chocolate chips.  Both are sweetened with honey.  No refined sugar, YAY!  I also used the dark chocolate to dip the gingerbread brownie bites in, mmmmm…. delicious. This chocolate would work amazing for dipping fruit, I’m thinking Christmas Clementines….pretzels, and any other Christmas goodies you may make.  The sky is the limit here!!!  I am going to try dipping homemade caramels….mmmmm…..and yes we actually do eat REAL food around here.  I love to bake and create Christmas love, and give it away as gifts.  Busy families, teachers, and church leaders really appreciate the edible gifts of love, and I have also started baking and giving simple rustic gifts of homemade artisan bread, and a dozen fresh eggs from our homestead hens.  A little sweet, and a lot nourishing, with love baked right in, and kindness sprinkled on top! So remember to share the joy, and spread the love!!!! 

On with the goodness!  These are great gifts for those on a gluten-free diet, as many store-bought chocolate treats contain gluten.  The plain chocolate is also suitable for GAPS diets.  I think it is so special to be able to create some sweetness and joy for those on restricted diets.  It helps them to feel loved and special too, especially children.

Oh, and by the way, my boys LOVE this chocolate!  I thought it might be a bit dark for them, as they were used to milk chocolate with refined sugar.  When I splurged on a dark chocolate bar, my oldest was the only one who thought it was edible, and maybe acceptable.  Hard Workin’ Hubby also loves this chocolate, and is not a fan of dark chocolate.  This chocolate is a whole other story…..I can’t keep it in the house.  They absolutely love it.  All of them.  Mama wins again!!! They get a treat, and I get to eliminate the additives, preservatives, refined sugars and oils from their healthy little bodies.  The difference between whole, nourishing food, and not, I suppose?!! So don’t be afraid mama, cook it up with love, and they will eat it with joy!

Simple Homemade Chocolate

1 c. raw organic food grade cocoa butter

* You can also use coconut oil, or just butter, but your set may be a bit softer. That was my original plan, but I happened to have some raw organic food grade cocoa butter just lying about so I thought I would give it a whirl….

**A quick note about cocoa butter.  Please use discretion when sourcing your ingredients.  Cocoa butter is sold in abundance for cosmetic purposes so please be sure to purchase organic food grade cocoa butter.  Read your labels carefully. 

1 c. unprocessed cocoa powder

2-4 T. raw honey, pure maple syrup, or agave nectar

2 t. vanilla

pinch of salt

That’s it just 5 ingredients super simple, or so it would seem….

Melt the cocoa butter, oil , or butter, you are using.  Be careful not to overheat.  You want this warm, but not really scorching hot.  About 95-98 degrees F.  Just melted is great. I did not know this at the time.  It is important, so use a candy thermometer if you are not sure.  The technique for making homemade chocolate is about the same for both types. Please follow the instructions below.  The only difference is the set time for the two different types of chocolate.  The dark chocolate will get thicker right away, but stays more malleable longer.  It worked great for dipping!  The white chocolate stayed liquid longer, but once it started to thicken, it went really quick.  I wanted it to work for dipping as well, so I think I am going to try adding some butter or coconut oil to it for a dipping chocolate.  I will keep you updated on that adventure.  For now, it made gorgeous almond bark!!!!

Homemade White Chocolate

1/4 c. melted cocoa butter

2 T. raw honey, pure maple syrup, or agave nectar

1 t. pure vanilla

1/2 t. organic dry milk (optional, leave out for GAPS diet, or dairy free diets)

pinch of salt (Redmond’s Real Salt, or sea salt)

*optional, but yummy, 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from the inside (save the rest of your bean for another purpose, or add it to your homemade vanilla jar!)

**If this is to be made for GAPS diet, please use the raw honey.

cocoa butter

Shave or chop cocoa butter for easy melting.

melting cocoa butter

Melt cocoa butter.  I have found the simplest way to melt natural oils without the fear of overheating.  It’s kinda double boiler style without direct heat.  I bring water to a boil in my tea kettle, and pour it into a saucepan.  Place a glass measuring cup filled with proper amounts of cocoa butter, into the hot water. Make sure the water level rises above the oil level inside the measuring cup.  Let it sit, and do it’s thing.  It melts in just a few minutes.  Stir a couple of times to speed along the process, or just make you feel like you are!  Just kidding.  No fears of overheating your oil.  This also works great for melting chocolate chips!  🙂

ingredients

Put all other ingredients, except cocoa butter in a bowl. This will get them ready to stir in  the oil.  I decided that this was the easiest way to mix them all together without fear of the chocolate seizing.  It works great!

add melted cocoa butter

Pour melted cocoa butter into the bowl with all the other ingredients.  Whisk together until well combined.

combined

This is what your white chocolate mixture will look like when it is all combined.  You will need to let it sit to set up.  Set your kitchen timer for 30 min. Check on it periodically.  Give it a little stir when you walk by, to keep the oil from separating out.  It will begin to look like it is thickening after about 30 min.  Stir it really well with your whisk again.  I read one recipe that used an immersion blender, but I didn’t think it was necessary.  If you whisk it like you mean it, you will be fine.  The timing is dependant upon the temperature of your kitchen. Once the cocoa butter begins to set, it goes very quickly.  Have your pan ready before hand.

thickening

This is what your white chocolate should look like when you are ready to pour it out into the pan.  Maybe even a few seconds before this.  It spread really well, but didn’t pour real well.  I kind of helped to scoop it into the pan using a rubber spatula to spread it out.  It still worked, but just be mindful that it seriously goes from pourable to set in a matter of seconds. If you do not take heed of the seriousness of this matter, if the worst should happen, and you miss the window for pourability…is that a word???  Anyway, if it sets before you get it in the pan, fear not, you may very carefully while holding your breath, re-melt it.  Use the same method that you used to melt the cocoa butter.  Set the bowl over boiling water, watch it like a hawk, and use your whisk to stir it up well.  You will have to melt it back to the liquid stage, and wait, whisk, and then be ready this time, to pour at just the right moment.  Do not wait, do not hesitate this time.  Go for it!  Now!  I will not tell you how it is I know all of this, just know that I do.  Trust me.  I did the testing for you! 😉

white chocolate!

I used an 8×8 glass pan to spread  the white chocolate out on.  A cookie sheet would work as well.  I sprinkled with almonds for almond bark, popped it in the freezer for 30 min. to set.  When set, break apart with a spatula, or your hands, into bite sized pieces, and enjoy!

The chocolate made with cocoa butter does not need to be refrigerated.  It will melt between 93-100 degrees F.  This makes the chocolate made with cocoa butter much more stable at room temperature than chocolate made with coconut oil.  Store in a cool, dry place in a covered container.  You can also freeze to save for later.

To make homemade chocolate chips/chunks, leave off the almonds, spread on cookie sheets or pans, let set, and break apart or chop into little bite sized pieces.  Store the same way.

white choc almond bark

This is a very basic recipe just waiting for your creativity to enter in.  Be bold, get creative, but most of all have fun, and savor the sweetness of life!!!!