Although we know it is bad for us, I don’t know many people who would say no to a slab of chocolate. But there could just be a healthy alternative to this craving…
You say Cocoa, I say Cacao
The most common product derived from the cacao bean is cocoa powder, which is cooked with things like dairy and sugar to become the chocolate we see in the store. But raw derivatives of the this bean – which come in the form of paste, butter, nibs or powder – are referred to as ‘cacao‘ (from the original Mayan word Ka’kau’) perhaps to implicate that they are still in a very natural state.
Good for You?
Raw cacao products are different from conventional cocoa powder in that they have not been heated and therefore are said to have a higher content of nutrients and antioxidants. Raw foodies claim it to be everything from a hormone balancer to an aphrodisiac, and suggest that cacao could help suppress the appetite and contain certain properties that trigger happiness. Whatever the case may be, cacao is certainly less processed than conventional cocoa; so if you are going to eat chocolate, make sure it’s the raw kind. Although the ingredients can be expensive, raw cacao chocolate tastes very rich, so you’ll need less to satisfy your cravings.
There are quite a few ways to make raw chocolate and, because the basic elements are quite simple, experimentation is most welcome! The three main ingredients are as follows: you will need either cacao powder or cacao paste to give it that real chocolatey flavour, cacao butter or coconut oil to make it creamy and agave syrup or some other healthy alternative to sweeten. You can also play around with ingredients such as carob, ground nuts, chopped dates, cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt.
Many of these ingredients will need melting – like the cacao paste and the cacao butter (or coconut oil, depending on what you’re using) – but be sure to keep it at a low temperature to maintain the qualities of raw. These different ingredients can be added in quantities depending on your taste buds, but generally they are used in equal parts with one another (except in the case of the coconut oil, as this can be very runny).
After the main ingredients have melted into a liquid, you can stir in the healthy sweetener of your choice and then pour into the moulds, before refrigerating. If you are using cacao powder instead of cacao paste, this is added at the end as well. Once your chocolates have hardened, which usually takes about half an hour, remove from the fridge and enjoy!