Many people have no idea where chocolate comes from, and that’s understandable.
“Chocolate is just chocolate, right? Why would I want to make it if I could just buy it in a store?”
I can think of three reasons:
- Fresh homemade chocolate tastes INCREDIBLE. You’ve never tasted such chocolatey flavor in a store-bought bar
- It’s pure. No artificial flavors, colors, dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers, or paraffins...just chocolate at it’s more elemental. Pure, slightly processed ingredients also contain more natural antioxidants and minerals than typically found in store-bought chocolate.
- Making chocolate is fun! It’s quick and easy and you get to taste along the way. You also get the satisfaction of sharing what you’ve made with your friends and family.
A few years ago, I started studying the subject of chocolate making and starting to experiment with all types of ingredients. I’ve learned a TON about the process and am amazed at just how easy it is to consistently make super flavorful chocolate at home that blows store-bought bars, even high end ones, away in terms of taste, texture, and overall deliciousness.
First, let’s talk about what you need, then how to do it.
There are just three main ingredients to all chocolate:
- Cocoa butter
- Cocoa powder
- Sugar or sweetener
Let’s look at each one alone.
Cocoa butter is the foundation of your chocolate. It’s the lovely golden colored hard stuff that smells like chocolate. It’s extracted from cocoa beans and is considered a vegetable fat.
There are many different types of cocoa butter, but they fall into two types- natural and deodorized. Both offer pros and cons, but in general natural cocoa butter produces the velvetiest mouthfeel and the richest-tasting chocolate. Cocoa butter has a melting temperature below what our bodies produce, which is why chocolate melts in your mouth.
Cocoa butter is by far the most expensive ingredient in chocolate. You can find many types online and in health food stores.
Now where the flavor really comes from- the cocoa powder. It’s produced from the cocoa bean after the butter has been extracted. Once extracted, the powder can be further processed, or “Dutched”, a process where alkali is added to the powder to lower its acidity and mellow out the flavor.
Natural cocoa tends to be lighter than Dutched, and have a bit stronger, more citrusy taste. Dutched chocolate tends to taste more mellow and earthy. Both types usually come in blends- that is, they are made from several different kinds of beans instead of just cocoa beans sourced from just one farm or region.
So, which one should you use to make chocolate? Natural cocoa is the more common of the two, and what you’ll find in most chocolate bars you’d find at the store.
I’ve had great experiences making delicious chocolate with both, but prefer single-origin natural cocoa powder because it’s consistently flavorful and has a higher fat content than most Dutched cocoa powder, blending better with the cocoa butter and creating a very round, full chocolatey flavor.
Last but not least- superfine sugar. Let’s face it, we like chocolate because it’s sweet.
You can get sweetness from pure agave, honey, or even maple syrup, but superfine or confectioner’s sugar is best for distributing evenly when making chocolate. Honey and syrup vary widely in quality and taste, and because they’re liquid, because superfine sugar is relatively light, it’s easy to stir into your chocolate mix and hard to over sweeten your creations.
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Now that you know what’s in chocolate, here’s a cheat sheet on how to actually make it. Video at the bottom of this blog post shows you everything in action, or check out our YouTube channel: www.YouTube.com/makefreshchocolate All you’ll need are:
- A stovetop
- A clean cooking pot
- A metal stirring spoon (a tablespoon is perfect)
First thing’s first, place the pot on the stove and set to the LOWEST possible temperature. Remember, chocolate melts in your mouth! Your pot doesn’t have to be much warmer than that.
Measure out 4 ounces of your choice of cocoa butter. I prefer mine medium ground first, or you can use larger chunks, up to you. Place the cocoa butter into the pot and watch it slowly melt and turn into a straw-colored liquid, sort of like real butter. Keep stirring and make sure it melts completely.
Leaving the temperature the same, it’s time to start adding the cocoa powder. Measure out 3 ounces of cocoa powder, and add it into the butter one tablespoon at a time, stirring well. After you’ve added and stirred in about half of the cocoa powder, it’s time to start sweetening.
To sweeten, measure out 3 ounces of confectioner sugar and, just as you did with the cocoa powder, and add in one tablespoon at a time, stirring the sugar in completely, it will dissolve into the chocolate mixture.
Now it’s time to start tasting the chocolate.
If it tastes a bit bitter, try another tablespoon of sugar and stir it in completely. Maybe you’d like even richer chocolate taste? Go ahead and mix in some more cocoa powder. If the chocolate mixture begins to thicken too much, you can slightly increase the temperature and keep stirring.
Once the chocolate is to your liking, pour it into any mold you like. If you don’t have a chocolate mold or truffle cups, you can use an ice cube tray, paper cups, or even cupcake molds. The chocolate will start to harden and conform to the shape of whatever you put it in, just make sure it’s not too hard to get it out once it’s hardened.
Now pop your poured chocolate into a refrigerator or freezer for 15 minutes or so, and voila! You’re now a chocolatier!
The more you make chocolate, the better it will be every time. Keep trying different cocoa butter and powder types, play with the level of sweetness, and try a variety of molds- the possibilities are endless!
Thanks for reading!
PS- Video and Extra Tips Below
PPS- Ready to give it a try? See our complete chocolate kits!
Some Extra Tips:
Take it slow and maybe experiment and taste the chocolate along the way. Chocolate tastes great a whole variety of ways, just follow your taste buds. You can save some cocoa powder, or sugar to add during this stage depending on your individual tastes.
Tip: low and slow works best- if you see any bubbles forming or any boiling, remove from burner and lower the heat.
Tip: any leftover chocolate you might have can be poured into virtually any container to act as a mold.
Tip: you might try a small pinch of salt mixed into the chocolate to amp the flavor.
Tip: keep everything dry- water is the enemy of chocolate.