MAKE: Healthy Homemade Chocolate
My grandmother had a drawer in her bedroom dresser filled with chocolate candy bars. My sister and I made a quick bee line to it whenever we visited. The only rule I remember was that we could only take one thing at a time. I remember gorging on chocolate bars one weekend and coming home with an upset stomach, and my mother mumbling about her mother-in-law’s failure to supervise. As I grew older, I stopped eating candy except if I happened upon a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses.
I spent many years working for restaurants and hotels and our break rooms often had leftovers from banquet events or buffets so there was no need to bring in additional foods. When I switched careers to academic advising and teaching, the break rooms brought out the worst of the Standard American Diet (SAD). Donuts, pastries, cookies, muffins, and chips were randomly deposited on the table. I avoided the break room on most days because the temptation was too much.
Except when there was chocolate to be had. Chocolate replaced coffee as the afternoon stimulant and around 3pm on most afternoons, there was a quiet stream of employees in and out of the break room in search of chocolate. Easter and Halloween were the best times for massive amounts of leftover chocolate but if no free chocolate was available we could cruise over the college bookstore and stand with others looking at the chocolate bar display. I wish now that I had taken photos of these different experiences.
Now with a lot more knowledge about the ingredients and production of commercially made chocolate bars, and the health benefits of cacao, I have learned to make my own chocolate. Strictly for medicinal purposes of course...
Chocolate come from cacao, and I am fascinated by both the plant and its history so I wrote a Plant Profile on Cacao, sharing history, medicinal benefits and the threats it is facing with climate change. A world without chocolate? Read it here.
RECIPE: Homemade Chocolate
1 cup cocoa butter*
1 cup organic cocoa powder
½ cup raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla, almond or orange extract
Optional: spices like cinnamon, ginger, cayenne
Melt cocoa butter over low heat. Add cocoa, honey, honey and vanilla. Pour into silicone candy trays. Harden in fridge. Pop out of the silicone trays and store in covered container.
I like to add some extras: chopped nuts, seeds (sunflower, hemp), coconut flakes, and dried fruits all make great additions.
*You can use ½ cup of cocoa butter and ½ cup of coconut oil but the chocolate pieces should probably be refrigerated because coconut oil melts at 76°
Author: Sue Kusch
Sue Kusch, a former community college instructor and academic advisor, incorporates her experiential wisdom, expertise and science-based research garnered from her three decades of growing vegetables, fruit and herbs into her educational writing about plants and how people use them. In addition to her BA in Social Sciences and Masters in Education, she completed the Master Gardener training in 2011 and two permaculture courses in 2001 and 2014. She has studied medicinal and nutritional uses of herbs including studies at Herbmentor.com and East West School of Planetary Herbology since 1997. Sue currently serves as President and newsletter editor of her local chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society. An avid reader, lover of historical and folkloric information, and a promising storyteller, Sue writes about the intersection of plants and people at www.plantsnpeople.com.