Raw chocolate. Glossy, snappy, creamy, and aromatic. The flexibility of chocolate is what I love most about it. It can be incredibly satisfying to simply taste a little piece of dark chocolate and let it melt on your tongue. However, it can be equally satisfying to taste an elaborate and boldly decorated raw tempered chocolate bark. I think that Linnaeus was dead-on when he named the cacao plant Theobroma Cacao, or “Food of the Gods”.
I have been a chocolate lover ever since I can remember. My obsession started with Bounty bars, then switched to peanut butter cups, and has eventually arrived at the basics – simple dark chocolate.
Along with natural peanut butter, dark chocolate is one of the things I crave quite frequently. It tastes good. It smells good. And it feels good when it melts on the tongue. According to science, letting chocolate dissolve slowly in your mouth produces as big an increase in brain activity and heart rate as a passionate kiss—but the effects of the chocolate last four times longer! No wonder it’s so darn hard to stop eating chocolate.
What really helped me tame my chocolate cravings was learning to make my own chocolate. The expensive ingredients not only made me think twice about how much chocolate I ate, but the higher quality usually satisfied the quantity I craved. So it was a win-win.
I will admit that making tempered chocolate from scratch can be intimidating though. I have failed at chocolate making more than I can count on the fingers of one hand. However, it’s also very rewarding so be patient. After all, practice makes perfect
Tips for Making Raw Chocolate (Tempered)
Raw chocolate is made from cocoa beans which haven’t been roasted. Cacao and cocoa might sound similar, but both of them are unique when it comes to taste and nutrition. Cacao powder is the purest chocolate you can consume because it’s raw (although that’s questionable depending on where you get the cacao powder from). Roasting changes the molecular structure of cocoa beans, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value. Cacao, on the other hand, is made by cold-processing unroasted cocoa beans and removing the fat – cacao butter.
Cacao butter is what gives chocolate its unique mouth-feel and stable properties. It’s essentially the only fat present in “real” chocolate. Since cacao butter can form six different form of crystals – and only one of them produces firm and shiny chocolate – it’s what makes working with raw chocolate so tricky.
The last ingredient necessary for making raw chocolate is a sweetener. Whenever I make raw desserts, I almost exclusively use liquid sweeteners, such as maple syrup or brown rice syrup. However, I’ve learned that liquid sweeteners don’t work all that great for tempering. (I wrote about why I don’t use liquids in chocolate here). So what’s the alternative? Powdered sugar. And by powdered, I mean powdered. No granules. Since chocolate is fat-based, granular sugar will not dissolve in cacao butter. So unless you grind the sugar to a fine powder, you’ll end up with that texture in your chocolate.
I’m not gonna go into detail about tempering chocolate because I’ve written a whole guide on this topic already. But essentially, to temper chocolate you need to heat, cool, and then gently heat chocolate to precise temperatures in order to propagate a type of stable cocoa butter crystals. This allows the chocolate to have a mirror-like shine when set and results in the proper mouth feel and audible snap when you break off a piece.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Blender (Vitamix Pro 750) | 2. Cookware Set (Calphalon, Stainless Steel) | 3. Scale (Elekcity, Stainless Steel) | 4. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 5. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 6. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass | 7. Ramekins (Set of 6, Bellemain, Porcelain) | 8. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 9. Thermometer (Elekcity, Laser Infrared)
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