How to Make your own Chocolate from Cacao Powder
Making your own chocolate from cacao may seem a little extreme, yet there are several compelling reasons to do so. The good news is that it is far easier than you might think, and whilst it may not quite match up to the shop-bought stuff it is still pretty good.
Why Make Homemade Chocolate?
For many of us (maybe most of us) chocolate is non-negotiable. A life without chocolate is simply unfathomable. Yet chocolate is widely available, so why go to the trouble of making your own, especially when the results may not be as silky smooth as the real deal?
The main reason for wanting to make your own chocolate is most likely the sugar content of the commercial stuff. Even dark chocolate contains sugar, which if you are on a completely sugar-free diet is a bit of a problem. Vegan chocolate is becoming more and more widely available, but sugar free?
And then there are all the other things that find their way into chocolate. The list of ingredients just seems to get longer and longer. It just makes sense to try and find a way to get your chocolate fix closer to home.
Different Types of Homemade Chocolate
Homemade chocolate all follows pretty much along the same lines, but your reasons for making it in the first place will dictate your eventual recipe. Most homemade chocolate recipes still contain sugar, albeit in a somewhat more natural form such as honey. If you want to go completely sugar free then the only way forward is to include milk powder. This tames the bitterness of the cocoa to a palatable degree. Anyone who says they like 100% raw chocolate with no sugar and no milk is possibly lying. If only to themselves.
Or you can keep the sugar, and omit the milk powder. Like we said; you can’t really do both. You could of course, try adding sugar AND milk powder.
Making Milk Chocolate from Cacao Powder
For us, the whole point was to be completely sugar free. With sugar, wheat, and all food additives off the menu it was a case of ‘well if you want to eat this thing, then you will have to make it yourself’.
We discovered the buffering effect of milk on the bitterness of cacao completely by accident. Our first sugar free chocolate fix was simply hot cocoa made with cacao and milk. Which was surprisingly good. Then, adding a spoonful or two of cacao to rice pudding made without sugar resulted in a creamy, deeply chocolatey, almost ganache like affair.
The only natural conclusion to this was ‘can we make milk chocolate with no sugar?’. The answer turned out to be yes.
How to Make your own Chocolate
Whilst you do not need any particularly special kit for making chocolate, there are a few items that you cannot do without. The first is a probe thermometer. These are really inexpensive and come in handy in all sorts of ways in the kitchen. You can make chocolate without one, but for the best results you need to follow as professional procedure as possible.
A stick blender. Commercial and professional bean to bar chocolatiers put their chocolate through a really fine grinder. The best way to approximate this is to use a handheld blender during the cooling process. Your chocolate will not be as silky smooth as the stuff you buy, but it will be closer than if you did not blend it at all.
Culinary grade cocoa butter. This usually comes as buttons, that look like large white chocolate buttons.
Some ground spices help balance the bitterness. Vanilla powder, ground cinnamon, and ground cardamom.
Chocolate moulds, although not necessary, do give you a nicer finish. We used plain bar silicone moulds.
The rest is simply a bowl over a saucepan of water, a silicone spatula, and plenty of patience. If you don’t use moulds, then you will need a baking tray and some baking parchment/greaseproof paper.
And of course, cacao powder.
Basic Recipe for Homemade Chocolate (sugar-free)
Whilst not exactly milk chocolate, this does contain full fat milk powder instead of sugar.
250g cocoa butter
60g FULL FAT milk POWDER
1 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- Measure out all of your ingredients, and make sure your working space is clear of clutter.
- Set out 6 chocolate moulds on a baking sheet, or place a generous sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray. Make sure you have space to put the tray into the fridge, on a level surface.
- Have your stick blender plugged in and ready to go, and the digital thermometer ready.
- Wear an apron!
- Find a suitably sized mixing bowl and a saucepan that it will sit snugly over. You need enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, but not touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Sit this over a low heat and bring the water to a gentle simmer.
- Add your cocoa butter to the bowl and slowly melt it to 40C. You may want to take it off the heat when it reaches about 35C and let the rest melt in the residual heat. Once melted, you want that cocoa butter at 40C – 45C.
- Remove the bowl from the pan, and place on a stable surface where you are comfortable standing. This process while take a while.
- Add the rest of your ingredients and stir to combine.
- Now, you are going to cool that mixture down to 28C. It could take 30 minutes so you really need to be patient.
- Use the stick blender for as long as you can during this process. It can be noisy, and the motor can get hot, so alternate bursts of blending with bursts of stirring with the wooden spatula. You can get away with brief periods of not stirring, but it is the cooling and the stirring that creates the tempering of the chocolate.
- Once you reach 28C, pour the liquid chocolate into the moulds or onto the baking tray.
- Transfer to the fridge to set.
- The chocolate will set quite quickly, but keep it in the fridge for a few hours. You will find that the texture changes over time, and also depending where you store it.
- Either store the bars as they are, or break up your sheet of chocolate. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge or in the cupboard. You may want to experiment with both, to see what works best for you and your kitchen.
Tweaking your chocolate recipe
Once you have made your first batch of chocolate you are ready to evaluate how it went. A grainy texture cannot be avoided, but hopefully with the blender and the proper tempering process it was kept to a minimum.
How did you find the taste? Was it too bitter? Did the milk powder bring in a softer taste? Do you think you would rather add a little sweetness?
Homemade Vegan Dark Chocolate
Following exactly the same procedure above you can make a darker, yet sweeter, dairy-free version. Simply omit the milk powder, and replace the cacao with 125g of our organic drinking cacao, which is made with pure organic cacao and organic coconut sugar.
Have you explored our range of superfoods for boosting your smoothies, shakes and healthy snacks?
This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Healthy ingredients Suppliers”.
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