Somehow, next weekend is EASTER, despite that fact that I’m pretty sure Christmas was only a few weeks ago… right?
With Easter inevitably comes a lot of egg or bunny-shaped chocolate, wrapped in shiny foil. While I do have a weak spot for certain shiny-wrapped egg-shaped chocolate (as not-so-subtly hinted last Easter), most conventionally made chocolate is filled with a lot of junk – additives and preservatives, artificial flavourings and a TON of sugar. Traditionally, chocolate is made by roasting and fermenting cacao beans which are then ground, sweetened, and tempered to make chocolate. In addition to this, the chocolate that we buy in the supermarket usually has milk solids and/or condensed milk added to make “dairy milk” chocolate.
I decided this year to try my hand at making some homemade raw chocolate for Easter, which is made with raw cacao butter and cacao powder, and then sweetened and flavoured to your liking. Raw chocolate products – ie the cacao butter and powder – are either cold-pressed or naturally-dried as opposed to the traditional process which heats the beans to very high temperatures thus losing some of the nutrients which occur naturally within the cacao beans. This means that raw chocolate products not only contain more nutrients, but they are also higher in antioxidants AND contain so called “bliss chemicals” (aka anandamide and phenylethylamine) which have been shown can help in lifting mood and making you feel generally happy – so eating this chocolate will literally make you happy whichever way you look at it!
Raw chocolate is a both a little easier to work with but also a little more difficult than using conventional chocolate. Confused? Let me explain further – conventional chocolate that you melt down yourself can be a little fussy; overheat it and you’ll ruin it beyond repair! That said, if you get it right, it’s thick and glossy texture makes it perfect for lining Easter egg moulds, whereas raw chocolate is extremely thin and runny and if you want to coat an Easter egg mould to create a hollow egg, it will take a lot of patience and about 38 layers of chocolate. I found that out the hard way… If however all you fancy is a solid little eggy that’s far healthier than it’s conventional cousin, then you are going to LOVE raw chocolate! The taste is a little richer than what you may be used too, but this means that you’ll be satisfied after only a few, rather than being able to eat a million of them and not stopping until you feel sick (I also speak from experience here sadly). If you aren’t a huge fan of dark chocolate, then I suggest you try the coconut milk version below, it’s a little creamier and sweeter than the first method, making it a little more palatable.
To keep the chocolate “raw”, make sure you heat it over the lowest possible heat, and as soon as its melted turn the hotplate off. I used a candy thermometer to make sure it didn’t go above 46 and managed to keep it well below. Alternatively, you could use a double boiler instead, however if you go this way just make sure that you don’t get any water in the mixture as it will spoil it. Likewise, make sure you use a metal spoon or whisk to stir the chocolate mixture as wooden utensils can hold water in them which can then seep into the chocolate.
As with regular store-bought chocolate, there are endless options for what you can do with this. Add shredded coconut, chopped nuts, dried fruit, puffed wholegrain cereal – or get really creative and try something a little left-field – like some spices or some crushed herbs.
Along with this dark chocolate, I also played around with making which chocolate – I made a gorgeous white chocolate egg marbled with raspberry and blueberry flavoured chocolate… though unfortunately the whole thing broke when I tried to get it out of its shell so while it still tasted great, the whole “Easter egg” thing didn’t quite go to plan. I may have to keep working on that one I think…
And lastly, a note on the moulds – I looked everywhere I could think of to find some standard egg-shaped moulds, but after being told “we don’t have any egg shapes sorry, how about a cute bunny?” a dozen or so times, I finally resorted to online shopping (sorry cute bunnies!) Amazon have a few or for those in Australia I bought mine here.
- Dark chocolate eggs;
- 100g raw cacao butter
- 75g raw cacao powder
- 30g raw honey or maple syrup
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- Coconut cream chocolate eggs;
- 100g cacao butter
- 20g raw cacao powder
- 45g raw honey
- 3 Tbsp coconut cream
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- Add all ingredients for whichever chocolate you choose to make into a small sauce pan over the lowest possible heat. Stir with a metal spoon until all melted together and smooth.
- Remove from heat and pour into moulds, reserving a few tablespoons of the mixture.
- Set in the freezer at least 20 minutes.
- Once completely set, remove from the freezer and heat the leftover chocolate again over low heat. Using a brush, paint a small amount of chocolate over the flat side of an egg half, and then stick to the flat side of another egg half. Continue this process until all egg halfs are combined and you have a set of whole eggs. Place back in the freezer to set, and then store in the fridge.
- The dark chocolate version is my favorite - though it's very "dark" and bordering on bitter. If you prefer a sweeter style chocolate, add a little extra sweetener, or try the coconut cream version instead.