Each month FBC member and nutritionist, Sondi Bruner, takes a favourite dish and shows you how to adapt it to be allergen-friendly, as well as delicious and healthy. This month she's showing us how to make homemade chocolates that are dairy free but still decadent and delicious!
I grew up devouring chocolate that was candy-coated, loaded with dairy and pumped full of chemicals. It wasn’t until I reached my mid-20s that I discovered real chocolate wasn’t brightly-coloured and sickeningly sweet.
Pure chocolate is not sweet at all. It’s dark and quite bitter. And where there’s a bitter taste, there’s medicine.
There is a world of difference between raw chocolate and the stuff you’ll find at your local convenience store. When you hear about the health benefits of chocolate, they ain’t talking about a Snickers bar. It’s the pure cacao products where you’ll find the antioxidants, minerals like iron and magnesium, heart-healthy polyphenols, anti-inflammatory nutrients and the special compound phenylethylamine (PEA), which boosts our endorphins similar to when we fall in love.
A typical homemade chocolate recipe may contain some or all of the following:
- Cocoa powder or chocolate chips
- White sugar
- Dairy or cream
- Food colouring
We can do better than this. Get aphrodisiacal (yup, that’s a real word) by making your own healthy, allergen-friendly chocolate goodies at home.
Choose Your Chocolate
I like using 100% raw cacao powder when I make chocolate at home. It can be pricey, but it’s also potent, so you don’t need to use as much of it (and you’ll get the sweet health benefits I mentioned above).
If you don’t want to make the move to raw cacao, try using a dark, organic cocoa powder. The roasting process yields a sweeter powder than raw cacao, so you’ll likely need to use less sugar elsewhere in your recipe.
Use a Natural Sweetener
Chocolate isn’t chocolate without a little bit of sweetness. There are a ton of natural sweeteners that are much better options than refined, white sugar. I like to use maple syrup or coconut sugar when I’m making vegan chocolate, or raw honey for non-vegan chocolate treats.
Both maple syrup and coconut sugar contain valuable minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc, while honey is a great source of digestive enzymes, anti-bacterial compounds, amino acids and energy-boosting B-vitamins.
Choose a Healthy Fat/Binding Agent For Your Chocolates
Since we’re not using chemical emulsifiers, we need to find a natural alternative. Enter the good fats.
I like to use coconut oil in my homemade chocolate. Coconut oil is easily digested and we use it immediately for energy, plus it has anti-fungal properties. When you refrigerate or freeze coconut oil, it hardens – making it the perfect ingredient to bind your dairy-free chocolate recipe together.
If I feel like being super fancy I’ll use cacao butter, which is the fatty part of the cacao bean that is separated and cold-pressed into cakes or chunks. Cacao butter puts the chocolate in chocolate and it smells like heaven, but it can be expensive and difficult to find in some areas, so it’s not an absolute necessity.
Decide on Chocolate Your Add-Ins
Once you’ve got your simple base of cacao, natural sweeteners and coconut oil, you can start to build flavours. They sky is the limit, really. Here are a few things you could use to give your dairy-free chocolate some punch:
- Essential oils – peppermint, spearmint, lavender, orange, tangerine, etc.
- Vanilla extract
- Cayenne pepper or chilli powder
- Sea salt
- Chai spices
- Orange juice or zest
- Chopped nuts or seeds
- Nut butters
- Dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins, etc.)
- Shredded coconut
- Chocolate chunks, chips or cacao nibs
No Dairy Needed Round These Parts
You don’t actually need dairy to make chocolate tasty or complete.
However, if you want to add a little bit more richness to your homemade chocolate, you could try adding coconut cream. Take a can of coconut milk and leave it in the fridge overnight. Open up the can and scoop out the firm, hard cream (there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere – I’ll leave that to your imagination). Leave the water behind. You can save it to use in smoothies.
You can also add depth by using cashew or almond cream in your chocolate. Soak one cup of cashews or almonds overnight, then drain and rinse them well. Blend with ½ cup of water in a blender or food processor, adding an extra tablespoon or two of water if needed.
- ⅓ cup coconut oil
- ⅓ cup cacao powder
- ¼ cup maple syrup (or honey)
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- Fill a small pot with an inch or two of water and bring to a simmer. Put the coconut oil, cacao powder and maple syrup in a glass or metal bowl and place on top of the pot to create a double boiler. Gently stir the ingredients until they melt. Add in the shredded coconut (if you’d like to use any additional components, toss them in now).
- Spoon the chocolate into molds, or pour them into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for two hours, or until set. If you used a loaf pan, cut the chocolate into pieces with a sharp knife.
Do you have a favourite dairy-free or vegan homemade chocolate recipe? Please share the link in the comments!
Check out more of Sondi's Allergen Friendly Remixes for great ideas on revamping your favourite recipes to make them allergen friendly! Got a favourite recipe you'd like to see get an Allergen Friendly Makeover? Let us know in the comments!
Sondi Bruner is a holistic nutritionist, freelance writer and food blogger. She educates people who follow allergen-friendly diets about how to eat simply, deliciously and safely, allowing them to rediscover the pleasure of food. When she’s wearing her writer’s hat, she works with natural health brands to create content that will help their customers live fulfilling, healthful lives. Find out more at www.sondibruner.com. Or you can follow Sondi on Facebook or Twitter