Monday, April 28, 2014

Let's Begin with Chocolate: Homemade Chococolate Chunks

I don’t get much me time anymore.  When I do, I always find myself in the kitchen, even though I’ve probably already spent a third of the day there and it inevitably means there will be another sink full of dishes (sorry honey).  I love cooking, baking, and eating (not necessarily in that order).   Sometimes I am really proud of something I make.  Sometimes I am really excited by a recipe that I found in the blog world that I feel such an urge to share it.  Sometimes I take a pretty cool food picture that I just want to do something with.  Mostly, I just want to do something for myself.  I’m not too concerned whether anyone reads this or not.  I just want an outlet that allows me to connect what I love with the ability to tune out the rest of the world, if only until the next cry of ‘Mommmmmy’.

 So let's begin with chocolate :) I have been itching to make homemade chocolate chips for months now.  I can control the amount of caffeine I use (as I'm not too fond of giving Charlotte or baby caffeine).  Bonus.  Plus it allows me to control the amount of sugar I use.  Double Bonus.  I used 2 tablespoons of sugar to yield 1 cup of chunks. With rough calculations, a smaller than 1 cup portion of Enjoy Life chips uses 7 tablespoons.  Granted, mine are certainly more of a 'dark chocolate', but I didn't hear Jerry or Charlotte complain.
There are a ton of recipes out there for homemade chocolate chips.  I took them all and played around with them to fit my needs.  The end result looked like this:
And this is how I got there:
Homemade Chocolate Chunks
Yields 1 cup
1/2 cup cocoa butter (Feel free to sub coconut oil - I prefer unrefined)
1/4 cup cocoa powder of some sort (I used 75% carob powder, which has a chocolate-like taste, but is caffeine free, and 25% raw cacao powder. You could also use regular cocoa powder)
2 Tbsp liquid sweetener (I used 1/2 raw honey, 1/2 maple syrup)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the ingredients over very low heat.  The reason this took me 3 attempts is because I kept heating my oil too much, which caused the oil to never mix with the solid ingredients.  One my 3rd attempt, I set up a double boiler, got the water underneath boiling, then turned the heat off before even adding my cocoa butter. Everything melted just fine, and it finally all came together!  Keep stirring until everything melts and combines.

What you do next depends on what your goal was with the chocolate.  To make chocolate chunks, just spread everything into an 8x8 baking dish and freeze for an hour until it hardens.  Parchment paper would help with easy removal, but parchment paper and I don't have a good relationship, so I just used the back of a spatula to get all the chocolate out of the pan.  Then cut into whatever size chunks you'd like.  It does need to be stored in the freezer, because it will eventually melt at room temperature (especially if you made it with coconut oil). 

Other Alternatives: 

You could spoon the chocolate into molds to make little chocolate pieces.  You could mix dried fruit or nuts (or even peanut butter for that matter) into the chocolate before spreading onto the sheet.  You could dip frozen bananas into it or drizzle over granola bars or cookies.  You could use immediately for a homemade chocolate sauce.  You could pipe into a bag with a teeny tiny opening and actually make pretty chocolate chips.... the possibilities are endless!  Personally, I'm saving them for when I finally get to the store to buy an ice cream maker so I can make some homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream :)