This question comes up on most of my raw chocolate posts, so I thought today - the day of chocolate - would be the perfect day to answer this question.
I have touched upon this subject before, and the difference between raw chocolate and regular chocolate, but I am happy to elaborate again.
Chocolate is made from cacao beans. They grow in big pods and look a bit like a papaya. The beans then get broken into what you can buy as cacao nibs - really bitter chocolate bits. Cacao nibs get ground into raw cacao powder. That is what I use in all of my recipes, and you should, too. It’s rich in minerals and anti-oxidants. Did you know there is more calcium in cacao than in cow’s milk? Gimme all the chocolate!!!
For regular cocoa powder, the cacao beans are roasted and chemically processed to take away the bitterness. The ground down cocoa powder can then more easily be used for main stream chocolate making. Because of the heat and chemical treatment of the cocoa (also called “dutch processed”), all the beneficial compounds are destroyed giving you no health benefits when eating regular chocolate.
While regular chocolate is made from processed cocoa powder, milk, sugar, and (often) soy, raw chocolates use raw cacao, cacao butter, cacao paste, and a natural sweetening option such as maple syrup, honey or stevia. Raw chocolate is a very pure product without any other additives and fillers. This also makes buying raw chocolate expensive. I prefer to make my own. You can get raw cacao butter and cacao powder at most health food stores or order it online.
Making raw chocolate is a bit time intensive, because of the very cautious heating required to melt the cacao butter. You need to set up a double broiler system, where you heat a pan of water to simmering point, and then place a bowl with the cacao butter in the hot water to melt the butter. The whole time you need to be very careful that no water touches your cacao butter or it gets ruined into a dry, brittle lump. If you have a Thermomix, you are in luck. Melting cacao butter in here and making raw chocolates is a breeze with the lowest temperature setting!
You may ask, why would I ever go through such an intense process? Because you can eat all the chocolate you want when making it from scratch from raw cacao!!! And isn’t that what we all dream of, especially on Valentine’s Day?
All the chocolate love,