FOR THE RAW LOVE OF CHOCOLATE

Alas, we have chocolate! I love making chocolate creations of all kinds using pure, organic, raw Criollo variety cacao beans, paste, and cacao butter. The simplicity of just pure cacao paste with a touch of coconut sugar, a vanilla bean and some cacao butter yields an exquisite and unparalleled taste experience that engages so many of your senses. But I often find myself inspired by the endless variations of raw chocolate that are possible and experiment with all types of nut butters, flavors, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and superfoods to create true alchemy in a sublime bite.

First up, Lavender-Maqui Infused White Cashew Chocolates

FEBRUARY 089 Those little hearts in the picture are quite possibly, the most perfect bite of sweetness I’ve ever tried. I’ve been a lover of white chocolate since I was a child and always wanted the white chocolate bunny at Easter! Not that I ever limited myself from “taste testing” my sister’s milk chocolate bunny, but still, it’s no surprise that a white chocolate creation would rank up there with my top favorite bites of all time.

These chocolates are creamy, rich, and perfectly scented with culinary lavender flowers that are equally dispersed with the faint hint of maqui berry, neither overpowering the other. The distant sweetness of maple syrup brings together all of the flavors in a marriage truly made in heaven! Here’s what you need:

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cacao butter

3/4 cup raw cashew butter

3/4 tsp dried culinary lavender flowers that have been pulverized into a powder (I use my nut grinder)

1/4 cup room temperature maple syrup

2 teaspoons maqui berry powder

Directions:

Chill your chocolate molds or pan you will use by placing it in the freezer before you get started making the chocolates.

Melt cacao butter at the lowest temperature possible. You can do this on the stove,  but if you do I highly recommend using a double boiler, otherwise your chocolate will not temper properly. I melt mine at 95 degrees F in the bottom of my dehydrator in a stainless bowl. Always make certain that your bowls and utensils and pots are dry and contain no trace of water. Water will cause chocolate not to temper correctly, and can cause it to seize up.

Once your cacao butter is melted, gently stir in your cashew butter, lavender flowers and maqui berry powder and whisk until thoroughly combined. Put back in the heat source for about 5 minutes. Take back out and add room temperature maple syrup. Do NOT use cold syrup. Pour mixture into pre-chilled molds and stick in refrigerator until fully solid. Enjoy! These chocolates can be stored in the refrigerator, freezer or at room temperature as long as it is not too hot in your home (above 75 degrees and they will become very soft).

If your chocolates don’t stay firm at room temperature, no worries. Tempering is a process that takes a little time to master¬† and it has a lot to do with exact temperatures, conditions of your ingredients, humidity and many other factors. Here in Hawaii during the summer months, our humidity is so high that I have to wait until night time to even begin tempering chocolate.

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RECIPE NUMBER TWO: SMOKY GOJI MULBERRY CHOCOLATE BARK

This one was the favorite of my husband and kids. It’s so jam packed with everything there is to love about raw foods: nuts, berries, coconut sugar, and high quality pure Criollo Cacao. What you need:

Ingredients:

1 cup cacao butter

3/4 cup cacao paste

1/2 cup organic coconut sugar, granulated

1 tsp Himalayan salt

1 tablespoon of mesquite powder

1 vanilla bean, scraped out

1 cup of mixed add-ins (I used raw macadamia nuts, raw pecans, goji berries and mulberries)

Directions:

Chill your chocolate molds or pan you will use by placing it in the freezer before you get started making the chocolates.

Melt cacao butter and cacao paste together, at the lowest temperature possible. Same rules apply as above in terms of temperature, method and dryness of your utensils and bowls.

Once your cacao butter and cacao paste are about 75% melted, gently stir in your vanilla, salt, and mesquite. Put back in the heat source for about 5 minutes. Take back out and add the coconut sugar and whisk until fully incorporated. Be sure there are no lumps of any kind.

I made this one into a chocolate bark so I simply poured the chocolate mixture into a glass pan that had been pre-oiled with a tiny bit of coconut oil. Then, I sprinkled the nuts and berries on top of the chocolate and some of it sank down, while some stayed at the top for nice distribution. Cover, then place in the refrigerator until fully solid. Since this has no cashew butter or coconut oil it will remain solid and have the snap of a true tempered chocolate bar at room temperature if the tempering process went well! But either way, enjoy these and remember to love YOURSELF this Valentine’s Day weekend!

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