The Wonders of Raw Cacao.
Would you like to know how to make this homemade, raw, refined-sugar-free, 4 ingredient chocolate…….sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?! Well it’s true, and I can honestly say it is delicious AND nutritious!! So if you indulged yourself a little too much on the processed, sugar-filled kind over Easter and subsequently felt like you had to ban chocolate for eternity……well never fear, Honey&Date are here!
First let’s chat about raw cacao and then I’ll let you in on our secret recipe for homemade guilt-free chocolate bark (and a few other recipe ideas for the chocoholics out there!)
So, I’m sure you have all heard that the standard chocolate bar really isn’t all that good for you. This is firstly due to the vast amount of added sugar in there, but also because the raw cacao found in processed chocolate is heated in the manufacturing process, which strips the cacao of all its goodness – and that’s a real shame because raw cacao has so many nutritional benefits for us!
1) It makes you happy…hooray – cacao contains the mood enhancer called anandamide. When you eat it, the brain releases endorphins (the natural feel-good chemical), and phenylethylamine which prompts the head-over-heels feeling of falling in love…… plus, I always say ‘when you feel good you look good.’
2) Energy booster – cacao contains very high levels of magnesium, which is vitally important for providing our cells with energy. (Incidentally, magnesium is one of the most commonly deficient nutrients in the typical British diet).
3) Protects your heart – raw cacao contains both anti-inflammatory Flavanols and heart protective Antioxidants, which can help prevent cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of stroke and help improve blood circulation. Raw cacao can also help to thin the blood and therefore helps to prevent clots.
4) Lowers cholesterol and prevents premature aging – complex antioxidants known as polyphenols help reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and are also said to prevent premature aging. (These are the same antioxidants found in green tea and red wine)
5) Shiny hair and strong nails – for the women among you, cacao is a good source of sulphur, giving your hair and nails that added boost to help them grow long, strong and shiny!
Now it’s time to find out how best to use this superfood.
Cooking with raw cacao
So this is the bit I’m sure you have all been waiting for…how to make our homemade raw chocolate! This is enough for 2 big squares of chocolate, so you can make a big batch and have it on standby for when you need that sweet snack with your cup of tea! It keeps for a few weeks in the fridge or you can freeze it!
180g cacao butter
120g raw cacao powder
60g maple syrup
Directions (preparation time: 5 minutes)
• Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper or reusable tray liners
• Melt the cacao butter on a low heat and then sift in the cacao powder. Stir until it is all dissolved
• Stir in the honey and maple syrup
• Pour the mixture into your trays (it should just be a thin layer, perhaps the thickness of a one pound coin)
• Decorate to your hearts content with nutritious superfoods – we used coconut (desiccated and chips), goji berries, pistachios, rose petals and freeze dried raspberries
• Then pop them in the freezer for c. 45 minutes until your chocolate has well and truly solidified
• Break the squares into bark and store in an air tight container in the fridge
Other ways to enjoy this wonder food!
1) Add it to smoothies
2) Blend it with frozen bananas for a delicious chocolate banana ice cream (best served topped with a good dollop of almond butter)
3) Quinoa chocolate mousse: mix it with maple syrup and pour over cooled/cooked quinoa, (…yes you heard me quinoa), for a protein and nutrient rich bowl of yumminess! I promise it tastes one hell of a lot better than it sounds, and you won’t regret it! (I personally like the grains whole as I’m not a fan of the smooth mousse texture, but if you are, just give it a quick whizz in the blender….and Bob’s your uncle, problem solved!}
4) Homemade body butter with zero fuss and zero chemicals!: combine and melt 1 cup of unrefined cacao butter and 1 cup of coconut oil. Transfer to a whisking bowl and chill in the freezer for c. 30 minutes or until the mixture is firm but still has some give. Whip for 3-5 minutes until white peaks form. Scoop into jars and add it to your beauty regime!
I hope you've found this interesting and please do let me know if you make any of these creations - I would love to hear from you!
Until next time,
xxx Amy xxx