My little confession is that I don’t particularly like chocolate. I appreciate it and I really enjoy a square or two of dark chocolate for both the flavour and the nutritional properties (read: potent antioxidants), but we don’t really stock it in our pantry. I do however like playing with chocolate in the kitchen and my friends like me more for it. My last game was to make a smooth, crunchy dark chocolate bark using raw cacao butter.
Before I begin with the recipe, here are some facts you might find interesting:
- Cacao butter and cocoa butter are ‘almost’ the same thing. Cacao butter is the raw version of edible, vegetable fat derived from cacao bean. It is extracted and treated using very low temperatures, and is therefore considered raw and more nutritious; cocoa butter is produced by applying more heat. The same difference applies to raw cacao powder versus cocoa powder with the latter being roasted, processed type. Again, the raw cacao is deemed more superior when it comes to health benefits.
- In its solidified form, cacao butter looks like white chocolate. It has the same mouth feel and consistency when you taste it, minus the sweetness.
- Cacao butter and cocoa butter are very stable fats with long shelf life and will solidify at room temperature.
Both are used in beauty products and are commonly seen as ingredients in raw, dairy free treats including raw chocolate. You can cook with it and you can rub it on your skin or lips as it will melt at body temperature.
- Based on the latest research findings, Mauro Serafini, PhD, of Italy’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome, and colleagues, claim that “milk may interfere the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate… and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate.” This makes raw, dairy free chocolate more superior.
In this recipe I used Bulletproof Upgraded Cacao Butter but you can use a cheaper cocoa butter as well; and raw cacao powder which can be replaced with regular cocoa powder/powdered chocolate.
Please note that the original recipe that used coconut sugar has been amended to just use honey or other liquid sweetener as some people experienced issues with the sugar melting.
- About 1 cup cacao butter (about 220-250 grams of solid cacao butter)
- 6-7 tbsp raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- 3-4 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- ½ tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp silvered or shaved almonds
- 1 tbsp roasted/crystal coconut flakes
- 1 tbsp dried blueberries or cranberries
- You will also need a saucepan quarter filled with water, digital thermometer, a heat proof bowl that goes over the saucepan, a whisk, shallow baking tray and non-stick baking paper.
- Bring a saucepan of water (about quarter full) to boil and then turn the heat down to simmering. Add cacao butter to a heatproof bowl and place over the simmering water in the saucepan. Make sure no water gets in the cacao butter. Melt the butter, stirring with a whisk or a spatula, and when almost all of it is melted, stick the digital thermometer in to check the temperature. Make sure you don’t go over 48°C/118°F. If you get very close and the cacao butter is still melting, remove the bowl from the heat and let the butter melt further on the countertop. The temperature will start to drop and that's what we're after.
- Once cacao butter is melted, add cacao powder, vanilla and honey or your preferred sweetener and whisk together until all dissolved and well incorporated. The temperature will go down further once you add other ingredients. Keep it at about 32-35°C, warm it up if needed but NOT all the way up to 48°C. This will keep it smooth and silky, and decrease the chances of chocolate seize (when it turns into grainy paste).
- Finally, add the salt and whisk together until smooth. Line a tray with baking paper, making sure the sides are covered so no chocolate liquid is spilt over the edges. Pour the chocolate into the tray and let is spread into a thin bark layer.
- While still melted and hot, sprinkle evenly with pumpkin seeds, almonds, coconut flakes and dried blueberries or other nuts and dried fruit of your choice. You can even use fresh berries if you plan to eat the bark in the next couple of days.
- Place the tray in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The bark will solidify within 30 minutes but it’s a good idea to let it stand for a little longer. Keep in an airtight container in or out of the fridge, depending on how crunchy you like it. It will keep for quite a while.