If you have ever worked with pure, dark (baking) chocolate, you know the frustration of trying to sweeten it. Everything you add just falls out and sits on the bottom. Well, I’m here to tell you why, give you some solutions to your problem, and even cry with you because chocolate is our friend; our good friend that needs a bit of sweetening up.
First off, did you know that chocolate was originally sipped, thick and hot, and it was spiced up with lots of cayenne pepper?
That’s a bit of history you probably did not know.
A sad bit of news about chocolate is that around 60% of the chocolate sold in America comes from chocolate plantations in Africa where children who were sold into slavery are overworked, underfed, beaten, and when/if they die, their bodies are just dumped into the surrounding rivers.
That is not a very sweet fact, and it is why we beseech you to always buy Fair Trade Chocolate. Fair Trade makes sure that everyone, from the lowliest plantation workers to the supplier who loads cargo ships with the final products is paid a living wage. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
I’ve been to so many websites of chocolate aficionados and read hundreds upon hundreds of recipes. Once in a while the author will talk about how it’s impossible to infuse the chocolate with a sweetener. One site tells you how to make semi-sweet chocolate chips from baking chocolate, but didn’t mention that the recipe just doesn’t work . . . at first, that is.
One day I returned to the site, and the author was now bemoaning over the fact that her wonderful sweetener, (one we recommend) Swerve Confectionery Sweetener, fell out of the mixture and just sank to the bottom, forcing her to spread it out very thinly on foil to make sure the sweetener was evenly (as possible) spread throughout the results.
Chocolate comes from a bean. If you buy raw beans, you have to roast them and then peel them before you can use them. So I’ll bet you’re heard of “chocolate nibs,” which seem to be the latest fad. The “nib” is what you get out of a roasted, peeled bean. That’s it. Then to use that, you have to grind it up with a mortar and pestle and then you’ve got everything you need to make your own dark chocolate.
However, for years the ground-up nibs have been separated into Cacao Powder and Cacao Butter. Baking chocolate is simply the powder and butter all blended back together.
We get our Fair Trade, organic Cacao Powder and Cacao Butter from one of our affiliate programs, The Raw Food World. Our devoted readers know that we would not ever choose an affiliate program we wouldn’t use ourselves. In fact, we find companies we purchase from and then look to see if they have affiliate programs. Like Swanson Health! We posted links to their site for 15 years before they created an affiliate program.
So there you have it; if you want to make your own baking chocolate, you’re going to have to mix together raw cacao powder and raw cacao butter in a double boiler. And it’s also good to get a candy thermometer because you don’t want to heat the chocolate over 100 degrees (Fahrenheit).
The formula for making your own Fair Trade, organic baking chocolate is quite simple:
7 oz (by weight) Cacao Butter to 6 oz (by volume) Cacao Powder
If you want to make more, then use the following:
10.5 oz (by weight) Cacao Butter to 9 oz (by volume) Cacao Powder
Heat up the cacao butter in a double boiler, and when it’s half melted, add your cacao powder and continually stir. When the cacao butter is completely melted, remove the pan from the top of the boiling water (to keep the temperature low — below 100°).
So you now know that chocolate consists of cacao powder and cacao butter. This means that chocolate is “fat” based. Or as some would say, lipid based. And when you melt it, it is still a lipid. It’s now a liquidy lipid.
The problem with adding a sweetener is that your sweeteners (sugar, stevia, honey, molasses, etc) are all “water soluble.” They blend into substances that are water based, not lipid based.
So how the hell does chocolate get sweetened? How did Mr Hershey ever make his freakin candy bar?
This took me some time to discover. I got it from a chocolate expert. And first you should know that every chocolate store you’ve ever been to that makes their own “hand dipped,” “homemade,” or “custom” chocolates purchases their chocolate already sweetened, whether dark or milk chocolate.
That chocolate had to be sweetened way, way back in its processing.
And here is how chocolate gets sweetened: the ingredients, the cacao powder and the sugar, must be ground together for over 75 hours. When the process is finished, the sugar and the cacao powder are basically one substance.
We all have blenders, but after fifteen minutes of blending, your machine will burn out. There is no way you or I or your neighbor is going to grind these things together for that length of time.
So we have come up with alternative methods of sweetening your homemade chocolate.
Add your sweeteners to your liquid chocolate, and when you pour into molds, dip your spoon to the bottom of your pan where the sweeteners have collected and add that to the chocolate in your candy mold.
Or, if you’re making chips or bark, just make sure you spread all the sweeteners that have collected at the bottom of the pan evenly over the bark you’ve poured into a plate of over aluminum foil.
This one can be tricky.
You are going to allow the chocolate syrup you’ve made start to cool. As it thickens it will hold the sweetener better. The sweetener cannot just drop to the bottom because of the density of the cooling chocolate. However, it’s very hard when this starts to happen to make chocolate candies using candy molds.
Add things to the chocolate to make it thicker. You won’t get a pure chocolate candy this way, but you can create some healthy chocolate bars at home.
And that is exactly what we’ve done, and you can use this recipe or make your own.
Here you go: I used stevia and erythritol (Swerve Confectionery Sweetener) together, and added a bit of Black Strap Molasses and some vanilla extract.
If you are making this for a diabetic, you’ll want to disregard the molasses and vanilla extract.
The amounts of sweetener we used:
The above is added to SIX Ounces of Baking Chocolate (by weight).
We first created the Backing Chocolate from the recipe above: 10.5 oz (by weight) Cacao Butter to 9 oz (by volume) Cacao Powder.
Keep in mind that we were planning on adding a lot of other things to “thicken” this recipe. Had we planned to use less, we would have added less sweetener.
Start by melting the Baking Chocolate (best to use a double boiler because you do NOT want the temp to rise above 100° Fahrenheit.
When it was fully melted, I removed it from the heat and stirred in:
We mixed and stirred till all the ingredients were blended well, and then spread the concoction out into my pyrex baking dishes (but there’s no baking), smoothed over the top (as best we could) and put it all into the freezer. In fifteen minutes, the concoction hardened, and it’s still hard even after being out overnight.
I just cut them up with a butter knife and dished them out into baggies. They’re very healthy chocolate bars.
And remember. If you are using less ingredients, say you just wanted to add almond flour (you need add only one ingredient to thicken the chocolate enough to hold the sweetener), you would want to use less sweetener.
But the Holy Crap is a fantastic cereal from Canada. It’s expensive mainly because of shipping. They have one hell of a healthy product line, and the moment our shipment arrived, we invented (and tested) chocolate protein bars, using two of their cereals, Holy Crap and Skinny B.
You can see the recipe for that here: Chocolate Holy Crap Protein Bars.
We have discovered something really weird, and that is the batter will taste sweeter than the final product. We first discovered this when trying to make a lower carb zucchini bread. Oftentimes I have others in my kitchen when we are experimenting and we tasted the batter only to be really disappointed with the outcome. After three years of using these two sweeteners together, we have finally concluded that the batter always tastes sweeter than the final product.
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