Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Brown Food

So, as I mentioned in this post here, there is Green Food. And there is Beige Food.

Green Food is full of life-force. Beige is dead and is going to sap your energy and eventually, your health.

I keep the beige and green definitions broad because I don’t like nutritional dogma.

For example- to my mind, Green Food is plant food, with an abundance of raw.  I personally advocate a diet based on mainly whole plant foods, and animal proteins if eaten, more as a condiment  to the diet than a mainstay.

However,  it is worth pointing out that there are animal proteins which are far more green than beige. A fast food burger laden with strange ingredients  is definitely beige. A cut of organic meat may definitely be considered greener especially when the animal is raised out of doors, (I mean really out of doors) eating Green Food, such as grass. So think  More Green and No/Less Beige within your own way of eating.  You all know what to do…

Which brings me to, Brown Food.

A category in it’s own right, because of the status it holds in many people’s lives.

Yep- I’m talking about chocolate. I don’t know many people that don’t love that stuff. I know I do.

I am here to tell you, for those that are interested that you can make Brown Food that is Green!! Or definitely …Greener.  And no Beige ingredients like sugar, cream, and so on. (By the way, while studies have shown that cacao does have habit forming chemicals, I think the amount to be found in an average bar is so small, that it’s probably the sugar and creamy mouth-feel that is so habit forming.  Mmmm!)

The simplest ever home-made chocolate requires:

1.FAT

2.SWEETNESS

3.CHOCOLATE FLAVOUR

Okay, so it’s no salad. If we wanted a salad, we would eat salad. But, it can still be healthy! Let’s look at these one by one.

FAT can be either extra Virgin cold-pressed coconut oil (which, though not a wholefood, is very green in my opinion, and a very nurturing fat) or organic cacao butter (purchase online) . These must be gently melted and will produce solid chocolates (though the coconut oil will only stay solid while refridgerated) If you are after a kind of frosting consistency, your fat can be avocado (yes, really) or for a stiffer mixture, you could use cashew butter or raw almond butter.

SWEETNESS I Guess if you wanted to be hyper green, you could sweeten only with dates. I made some chocolate sweetened only with dates over Lent and it was nice, a bit more intense…but I probably wouldn’t do it again  🙂   Otherwise you choose a sweetener which is “more green” than table sugar (beige) or syrups like high fructose corn syrup (also beige). Your options might be: Unpasteurised honey (also known as raw honey), maple syrup, agave nectar, Sucanat (dehydrated cane juice, found in most health food stores) or whichever you prefer. It will depend on your palate or dietary preferences.

CHOCOLATE FLAVOUR Unsweetened cocoa powder (if you can afford organic, fairtrade- all the greener!) or raw (unroasted) cacao powder.  This is quite a polarising product in the world of nutrition. Some believe  it is a superfood- a food from the Gods as it was originally named. Others swear they almost trip on it if they are not careful with quantities, along with various unpleasant side effects. Again- I think it is about moderation and tuning in to how your body reacts to a food. It’s expensive; I have never even tried it.  (It’s very rich in magnesium, but so are pumpkin seeds)

ADDITIONS like orange or almond extract, nuts, seeds, freeze dried berries, dessicated coconut, even wholegrain puffed rice or oats for alternative “cluster-cakes”.

Here are some I made using cacao butter, cocoa and honey, almond extract, and a whole almond in the centre.  I think every kitchen deserves some beautiful chocolate moulds, don’t you?

Almond Delights

 Tonight I am making alternative peanut butter cups with the kids. (actually Ellie hates them, she is not a dark chocolate lover…but she loves to help make them, and doesn’t seem to care that she is not eating them??!!)

As a very general (flexible) guideline, for cacao butter chocolates I use a 30:40:50 ratio (30grams cocoa, 40grams cacao butter, 50grams honey) When I use c0 coconut oil, I do 20:30:50 (20grams cocoa, 30 grams coconut oil, 50grams honey) For more details see my “raw treats” section under desserts or Google “Raw chocolate”, and for some specific tips on cacao butter, see this post

And now- lunch! With chocolate for dessert.

Because Brown Food can be Green too.

Or is it…Because Brown Food need not be Beige ?

Suggestions on a postcard, or in the comments below.

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Make your own NAKD RAW bars

Behold- the NAKD BARS:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming in a variety of flavours, and made with only unroasted nuts, dried fruit and natural flavours/spices. They cost 60-80p depending on where you buy them, but thanks to the kind people who put the percentage ratios on the back of the packet, you can also make them at home!

We made “Cocoa Orange”, which is made with:

40% dates

40% cashews

15% raisins

5% unsweetened cocoa powder

a small amount of natural orange flavouring

(I think these figures are correct- I threw the wrapper away by accident- in any case they are close- and it tasted authentic!)

You will need digital scales for this. These quantities make 2 bars, as shown in the highly stylish photo, where they feature on a fluorescent pink IKEA plate.

  • 40 grams unroasted cashews
  • 40 grams of unsweetened dried dates, snipped into smallish pieces
  • 15 grams of raisins
  • 5 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of “orange extract” oil
  1. In your food processor or mini chopper, process the nuts until they look like fine meal.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and process until they are completely broken down- about a minute?
  3. The mixture will seem a bit crumbly but presses together easily.
  4. Form into bars, or- even more convenient- small bite-size truffle shapes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I don’t do food styling. But it tastes good and it nurtures, okay???!!!

Who says self denial is no fun?

This was our Monday night treat. Because every family should have a designated treat night, don’t you think? A little too dark for the kids (I’d say it’s about 70% dark chocolate-type-flavour) Amelia made her siblings cute little cupcakes. Quite healthy ones too, just not appropriate for our Lent challenge 🙂

Made with approximately 40grams of cacao butter (for more details, see this post) 25grams of cocoa powder and about 80grams of date paste: I counteracted the dark flavour by sprinkling liberally with cranberries, raisins, freeze dried strawberry powder, flaked almonds, in short- whatever I could rustle up. Aye- even some salty pistachios.

Cacao butter will “seize up” in contact with even a drop of water, so when you add date paste instead of honey, it goes grainy, but we didn’t mind. It is a lot softer, so it needs to be kept in the freezer. It was delicious.

On cacao butter, thrift and rejoicing

I can be quiet no longer. Generally I am quite reluctant to post things using ingredients that are less accessible . I didn’t post anything using extra virgin coconut oil for ages because I anticipated all the ” why do you use expensive ingredients?” The truth is, I don’t. You will never find steak or Haagen Dazs on this site. I don’t use fancy cheeses or wines, gourmet cuts of meat or speciality baking ingredients, because that is not our thing (to explain it simply)

Coconut oil prices can vary greatly, though I buy it a local organic shop where it costs £3.something for a small jar. 30grams(plus cocoa and honey) makes a batch of at least 12 chocolates- about 50p. As for accessibility, everything can be bought online, albeit a wee bit more expensive because of postage costs.

And so I am going to share my “gourmet steak” that Christmas brought me: organic cacao butter, and no, it’s not face cream, it’s for culinary use. And oh, how we use it!

It is not cheap when bought in bulk, hence I asked for it at Christmas. It costs £15 for 500grams. (I know)

BUT! I have it costed up to 3p a gram, and 40grams or £1.20 makes a batch of about 15 chocolates, containing only organic cacao butter, organic fair trade cocoa and honey.

And then, here’s the cool bit: Every time I make a batch, I pop £1.20 from my purse into a special purse I have, labelled “cacao butter” and now I have “paid for” my chocolates . When my cacao butter has gone , I shall take my purse full of £15 and joyfully order more, guilt free!

The joy of cacao butter is the chocolate tastes more chocolatey, no coconut undertones ( not that I object to said undertones) The other joy is that, unlike coconut oil, it is solid at room temperature and you can put them in your kids lunches, or yours!

When I buy cacao butter, I roughly chop it and then grind it to a fine meal in the food processor and keep it in the fridge, ready for use. The melting process is done in a bowl over warm/hot water; I do it gently to preserve all the goodness that I have paid for. Yes, it has goodness and healthy fats! (I know) and yes, £1.20 is accessible to all, and less than some sugar-laden organic bars at the shop.

My simple ratio is 30-40-50. 30 grams of cocoa,40 grams of cocoa butter, 50 grams of honey or sweetener of choice.(this is how we like it, reduce honey for a more bitter taste)

I carefully melt the honey and cacao butter and then stir in the cocoa. To this I add:

1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Other flavourings eg orange essence,freeze dried berries

Last night I added 2 capfuls of almond extract and I made 12 almond chocolates (with a whole almond in each) and in the remaining melted chocolate, I tossed almost 100 grams of almonds in and coated them. The almond essence gave it an amazing kick and frankly, my heart did rejoice .
For £1.20 worth of cacao butter, that’s not too shabby a deal (rejoicing included) and it made for a perfect end to our friends supper.

Three cheers for abundance in all it’s forms!

Update: Tip

When you  have melted the caco butter and honey down, leave to stand for around 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thicker, but still easily workable. If you try to use the mixture when it is very warm and thin-runny, the honey will separate and sink down(it being denser) and your chocolates, when hardened, will have an oozy layer of honey on the top layer. Not great.

notquiteBettyCrocker: Avocado Chocolate Frosting

You have GOT to try this to believe it! It is sooo chocolatey-silky smooth and fatty, as a good chocolate frosting should be 🙂  It really does NOT taste of avocado. Of course these fats are health-nurturing fats, and as I mentioned in the avocado piece, you can do amazing things with a ripe avocado And here is one to add to the list.

To start with, you need  a food processor or a mini chopper. Take one large avocado, perfectly ripe and soft. Now it’s just the balancing act of unsweetened cocoa powder and sweetener, whichever one you get on with. I like it with unpasteurised honey, I know people that do it with maple syrup, agave nectar, and other forms of dry sugar. That is down to personal taste/dietary habits, though of course, not all of them are as good for you as others. But hey…. It’s avocado frosting!

My recipe uses the following:

  • 1 large, ripe avocado
  • 20 grams cocoa (1/8 cup)
  • 70grams sweetener of choice

Insert into food processor. I am aware of how wierd this looks….

 

 

 

 

 

 

But look what happens once you have whizzed it:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite 70grams sounding like quite a bit of sweetener, this tastes sweet in a dark kind of way, which is how I like it (we’ll see if the girls do! I may need to doctor it a tiny bit) If you prefer it sweeter, well, just sweeten it up a bit. I repeat, it DOES NOT TASTE OF AVOCADO. (Update. I sweetened mine up, after all)

The texture is, quite frankly , glorious. You could eat this as a chocolate mousse and I know plenty of people do. (With orange zest and a squeeze of juice in addition, I bet it is heavenly!)

Note: May look classier if not in an Ikea bowl. But check out that texture!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, this is to be filed under Recipes that Sound Really Wierd, but Really Work (Honestly) , along with this one- dessert hummous. And of course, I cannot take the credit for either one.But wow, I am happy when people make these little discoveries!

This is going on top of a chocolate cake that I have tried previously, which is really delicious, and the children loved it too. It is wholewheat (when I bake it, anyway) not as high in sugar as most cakes, pretty low fat (it uses some vegetable oil) and it has no eggs in, and despite everything I have just said, it is really light and moist. The recipe is here.

I will post a photo of the whole cake tomorrow. It’s my birthday cake 🙂

Fondue

Wow, what a delicious improvisation that turned out to be! Follow these steps for a delicious dairy free fondue dipping sauce. Mental note-we should have made more. It was Saturday night after all.

Ingredients (makes double the amount in the photo)

Chocolate Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup or 30grams coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup or 15-20grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup or 50 grams honey (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup or 100grams soy yogurt (see notes

and now….

  • Heat  a small amount of water in a saucepan. Put a bowl containing the coconut oil into the pan, and cover with a lid.Turn off the heat, or down to it’s very lowest setting, using the residual heat of the hob to melt your oil. We are doing it gently because it is cold-pressed unpasteurised coconut oil and since we have paid for all that tender processing, we may as well try to keep all it’s wonderful goodness!
  • Once melted, remove the bowl from the pan, (we want it to start cooling a little)and add cocoa and honey. Stir well.
  • Finally add your soy yogurt and stir until it’s all creamy and silky-looking.
  • We let it cool a little (even though, technically, that is not a fondue, but what’s a technical detail between friends?) and the texture gets even better. Thicker and kind of silkier. Mmmm!

Notes

  • Digital scales are very useful to have! Especially with coconut oil straight out of the fridge which has the texture of candle wax, no joke.
  • Coconut oil  I know it must be annoying to see this crop up in “everything.” But if you can find an affordable source (ie NOT Holland & Barrett) then a jar of this will last you a good while. If you like coconut you can use it in creations like my Coconut Bites, and if not, you will find that in alternative chocolate recipes, the taste is masked by the cocoa. So much so that my coconut-hating-chocoholic-sweet-toothed daughter said that she liked my Peanut Butter Cups (made with coconut oil chocolate) “better than anything I could buy with my pocket money”  Praise indeed!
  • Honey: Some people dont like the taste of honey; it’s very sweet but it also has quite a strong taste. Unpasteurised honey is very good for your immune and digestive systems, but hey, if you don’t like it, you won’t care about that. You could always sub maple syrup or a less refined sugar like Sucanat. Sucanat is dehydrated cane juice and has quite a few more minerals present than table sugar. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a food group or anything….but it could be a better option than other sugars. You may wish to add a little more, if you or the children have a sweeter tooth, at least you can know it is not full of butter and cream.
  • Soy Yogurt  I found one in my local supermarket (Tesco) that is only made from water, hulled soy beans and cultures. Hooray!

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, when you have your dip made, it only remains to dip your fruit with a good chat partner, piece of music or DVD.

PS It ocurred to me that this is a great alternative chocolate dipping sauce for the walnut and cinnamon encrusted banana slices. I shall save it for another Saturday night!

McHealthy chocolate spread

McHealthy, as in MacHealthy, as in Macadamia Nut Healthy Chocolate spread: CHILD APPROVED! (in my house anyway 🙂 )

I know Macadamia nuts are a little pricey, though if you look around you will find places that they are more affordable than others. Currently Tesco charge £2 for 100g of unroasted mac. nuts, and in Asda they cost  £2.72 for 150grams which works out a little better. Everywhere else I have seen they are a little untouchable. Yes, a little expensive, but so worth it for a bit of whole-food decadence. (I have also found that as you stop buying certain items at the supermarket, that you have all this extra budget leftover for things like…macadamia nuts, extra melons, extra berries, more organic produce, and so on.)

We used this to spread on wholewheat pancakes; the idea was to droozle it over the pancakes and raspberries but it came out a little thick for droozling. It would also be a good dipping sauce for a fruit fondue.

Thinned down with a milk alternative it could be a sauce for banana softserve ice cream, though you may have to add more sweetness/cocoa. (Note: in a regular sized food processor you would probably have to double up) It simply consists of:

  • 50g macadamia nuts, whizzed until buttery in your mini chopper (2-3 minutes approximately) and then add:
  • 3 teaspoons honey or liquid sweetener of choice (maple syrup,rice syrup, agave nectar, whatever you use)
  • 2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and whizz until smooth and creamy consistency.

Spread, eat, and rejoice.

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