It’s February and it’s also the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day. I remember when I was single it was just another reminder of being on my own, while my friends who were happily in relationships would go out together and share a lovey – dovey dinner. So instead of being sad because I was on my own on this day, I decided to make this day a Self-Love day and pamper and nurture myself. One of my favourite things to do was to make homemade chocolate from scratch and indulge in that velvet explosion of taste sensations knowing I was eating something healthy even though it felt naughty. So this year I thought I would bring my tradition back and make some homemade chocolate Valentine’s Hearts for my husband.
Is Chocolate Healthy?
Is Chocolate really healthy I hear you say? Well it depends. Unless you buy really good quality chocolate, then normally no. But that is only because the food manufacturers use cheap ingredients, add loads of sugar, bad fat and other additives to the chocolate. Homemade chocolate on the other hand is super healthy and full of minerals and antioxidants. Harvard recently released some research that real chocolate (not candy chocolate bars) is good for cardiovascular health. GO CHOCOLATE!
Simple Steps to make Homemade Chocolate
Making homemade chocolate from scratch is really easy and within only minutes you can have the best chocolate for Valentine’s Day. The steps are really simple: You basically melt some cacao butter (healthy – tick), add some raw cacao powder (healthy – tick) and sweeten it with a natural sweetener like maple syrup or raw honey (healthy – tick).
It’s then optional to add some roasted nuts, cacao nibs, a few drops of peppermint oil, some chili, sea salt, roasted desiccated coconut, dried fruit or seeds of your choice. You can also add some cinnamon, vanilla extract or some espresso powder for extra flavour. Pour your chocolate into a mould, leave it to cool down in the fridge and voila – your chocolate is done. I have made a short video for you to watch the steps. It’s really easy!
But things can go wrong!
I would be lying if I told you my first batch was all smooth sailing. That was not the case. I faced a few “Oh my god… I think I am losing it” moments that I want to share with you.
First, it wasn’t as easy as I thought to find the heart shaped chocolate moulds. I went to at least 6 different shops without any luck and only a quick online search pointed me in the right direction. I finally, after a bit of a drive, found my heart shaped chocolate moulds at Spotlight. There were a couple of online shops too that you can order the moulds from but I didn’t have the time to wait, so it was Spotlight or no hearts for me.
Secondly, when my chocolate was melted and ready to put into the moulds, I tasted the liquid chocolate and because these hearts are for my husband, I was worried they were not sweet enough. So I added a bit more maple syrup than the recipe asked for.
The problem was that the chocolate had already cooled off a bit and I didn’t combine the additional maple syrup with the chocolate enough. The end result was wet spots in my chocolate hearts. The maple syrup is literally dripping out of the hearts which makes them quite messy. For my taste they also ended up a little bit too sweet … but I guess all tastes are different and some like it sweeter than others.
Finally, what I didn’t consider was that homemade chocolate is free of additives and hydrogenated fats. The cacao butter is the only fat that keeps the chocolate solid. That’s great from a health perspective but to stay solid homemade chocolate must be kept in the fridge. And that’s not great when you want to put the hearts into a pretty bag and give it away because by the time you make your present you may have a chocolate mess in your bag.
Using store bought Chocolate
My final thought is that for Valentine’s Hearts I would probably use a high quality store bought chocolate rather than the homemade chocolate. It sets harder and is not as delicate to handle, especially when you have hot temperatures like we have in Queensland at the moment.
Using store bought dark chocolate is similar, except you melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water. Make sure you don’t spill any water into the chocolate as that curdles the chocolate and makes it unusable. You can still add any flavours like nuts or dried fruit before adding the liquid chocolate into the moulds.
Better ways to use homemade chocolate
I found a better way to use the homemade chocolate is to pour the liquid chocolate onto a tray lined with baking paper. Let the chocolate set at room temperature or in the fridge and break it into pieces once set.
I love the fact that I can indulge in chocolate and don’t have to feel guilty. Of course you just want to have a few pieces of this chocolate. Moderation is good but luckily it’s much easier with this rich version of chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth than it is with chocolate of a lesser quality.
So why not give it a go. Valentine’s Day or not. Homemade chocolate is a treat we should indulge in more often I say.
There is something nurturing about making chocolate from scratch and reaping the health benefits from a normally not so healthy treat.
- 200 g cacao butter cut into pieces
- 50 g raw cacao powder
- 100 g raw honey or maple syrup
- 1 pinch of salt
Melt the cacao butter in a pot on the stove until completely liquid.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix through thoroughly.
Optional: add additional flavourings e.g. roasted nuts, seeds, cinnamon, vanilla, espresso powder, dried berries, roasted desiccated coconut or whatever you would like to have in your chocolate.
Pour into moulds or onto a shallow tray lined with baking paper.
Let the chocolate set either at room temperature or in the fridge.
Break into pieces and store in fridge.
Enjoy guilt free.