Fair-trade, Organic Chocolate (Sweetened with Honey)

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Last winter, as part of a holiday appreciation gift to our practice members, we purchased a large volume of locally-made, fair-trade, organic chocolates. The chocolate was a big hit with our clients and it got me thinking… can I make the chocolate for this year’s gift?

I look back on this idea now and find it humourous that I thought “Oh, I’ll just make delicious, smooth and creamy chocolate from scratch.  How hard can it be?”

Through a lot of trial and error, I learned that making chocolate is pretty hard. To do it well you also need a chocolate melanger to properly grind the chocolate ingredients which gives it that smooth, creamy feeling in your mouth. Not to mention, there is a precise science to get the chocolate to temper (harden) properly. No wonder people go to school for years to become Chocolatiers!

Sharing the pain of my initial failures, a friend of mine gave me the idea to try making truffles instead.  Low and behold, without too much trial and error I managed to make these incredible chocolate treats! It does take some time to make these goodies, especially if you do the tempered chocolate coating, however the result is both nutritious and delicious.  It’s also really nice and feels really good to know exactly what the ingredients are and where they’re coming from.

For Rob and I, this is guilt-free chocolate and we will continue to enjoy these throughout the year! Be sure to check out the recipe notes for info on how to save time and gain some insight into the somewhat finicky process of making these amazing truffles.

Ingredient choices

As much as possible, we do our best to buy local, organic, ethically and sustainably sourced whole foods. It can be pricey to buy such ingredients but when we assemble the ingredients ourselves we can make high quality chocolate at a reasonable price.

Cacao powder

Raw cacao powder is an excellent source of antioxidants. It’s also a good source of protein, potassium, zinc and a very good source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. We use fair-trade, organic cacao powder made by Giddy Yo . You could also use cocoa powder in this recipe. Cacao powder (note the spelling) is made from raw cacao beans whereas cocoa powder is made from roasted cacao beans (cocoa beans) and is also more processed. Cacao powder preserves more of the wonderful nutrients available from the cacao bean!

https://shop.giddyyoyo.com

Cacao butter

Cacao butter is the fat that’s extracted from cacao beans.  Cacao butter is very healthy if consumed in moderation. This 100% vegan fat is a great addition for those who are on a plant-based diet and/or are trying to consume more healthy, saturated fats. It’s full of fatty acids like oleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid which are antioxidants that fight free radicals. Antioxidants help lower inflammation in the body and support the immune system. Many people consider cacao a superfood for all these reasons. Its fats help to boost neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine (the happy brain chemicals) and also help to balance hormones. It’s also a good source of magnesium, iron, zinc and Vitamin E. The cacao butter we used was also sourced from Giddy Yo .

Honey

While we may not be able to call honey a ‘health food’ we like to use it and other natural sugar in place of refined sugar in our diet. For one, honey is less processed and more of a whole food. Honey also has a somewhat lower glycemic index than refined sugar, which means it has a gentler effect on our pancreas and insulin levels (which act to regulate blood sugar in the body). High quality honey — which is minimally processed, unheated, and fresh — contains many important bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. Researchers have found that honey may increase levels of adiponectin, a hormone that reduces inflammation and improves blood sugar regulation (1 – A Review on the Protective Effects of Honey against Metabolic Syndrome ). It’s also a potent prebiotic, meaning it nourishes the good bacteria that live in the intestines, which are crucial not only for digestion but overall health.

Some people find that eating local honey can have a positive impact on seasonal allergic reactions. The idea here is that consuming small amounts of local honey can help the body more effectively process these substances found in our environment. Local bees consume pollen from local plants, some of which ends up in the honey. Eating some local, raw, unpasteurized honey each day (approximately a teaspoon) could help the body develop a more effective and efficient response, having a positive effect on your allergies. Although, these results haven’t been consistently duplicated in clinical studies, many people we know have observed this benefit for themselves.  Is it placebo? Who knows, but honey is delicious!

We’ve sourced our local honey from @twissfarms our friends’ organic farm in Burlington.

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Recipe

Makes 16 – 20 Truffles

Total time: 90 to 120 minutes with 30 to 45 minutes of active work

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons organic raw cacao butter (84 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • ¾ cup organic raw cacao powder (67 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional ingredients for truffle coating

  • ¾ cup organic dark chocolate chips (for making chocolate coating)
  • Shredded dark chocolate, or chopped chocolate chips
  • Chopped nuts
  • Cacao nibs
  • Cacao powder
  • Salt (preferably ground)
  • Any kind of chili powder
  • Chopped dried fruit
  • Shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Chop the cacao butter into fine pieces to measure.
  2. Fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Turn it off.
  3. Place the cacao butter in a heat proof bowl (or double boiler), and place it directly over the boiling water, but not touching it.
  4. Stir for 1-2 minutes until it begins to melt. Make sure no water or liquid gets into the chocolate as it can cause the texture to get mealy.
  5. Mix in the coconut oil and honey until everything is melted (heating the hot water again if needed).
  6. Add the cacao powder and vanilla. Mix until evenly blended.
  7. Remove the bowl from the heat.
  8. Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes or until the chocolate is firm enough to handle. Don’t let it get too firm.
  9. Set up individual plates of whatever optional toppings you are using.
  10. After it has chilled, scoop out balls about the size of a tablespoon from the bowl.
  11. Form the truffles with your finger tips into balls approximately 1” in diameter.

If doing a chocolate coating skip this step and go to the following steps.

  • If using other toppings, roll the formed balls onto desired toppings to coat lightly. Place the balls on a parchment lined tray then place the tray back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and then store in an airtight container.

If doing a chocolate coating follow these steps.

  • After step 11, place formed balls onto parchment lined tray and then in the refrigerator for 15 – 30 minutes to harden.
  • When balls have hardened, melt and temper the ¾ cup of chocolate chips.  The easiest way is to use a microwave, and heat the chips in a cup, 20s at a time, stirring between each heating and until the chips are melted.  Be careful not to let the mixture get too hot. If it gets too hot, you may need to add some more chips to cool it down and keep the mixture in temper.  To learn to temper chocolate with a double boiler visit this link .
  • Dip the cooled truffles into the tempered chocolate with a spoon and remove, leaving as much tempered chocolate behind in the cup as possible.
  • Place coated truffles back on the parchment lined tray and then place the tray back in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes, or until coating is hard. Store in an airtight container.

Notes

  • Ingredients and directions adapted from Eat Well Enjoy Life
  • These truffles will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 weeks or in a cool dry place for 1 week. I like to store my truffles in the fridge and then warm them to room temperature prior to eating as it gives more of that smooth, creamy chocolate experience.
  • Be creative with coatings and experiment with different options.
  • When I make this recipe I can scale it up 4x comfortably and it makes 60 to 80 truffles. When scaling it up, step 8 needs more time (around 60 to 90 mins) and it’s important to stir (scraping the sides) a couple times closer to the end of the cooling period.
  • Making and coating the truffles with tempered chocolate is an extra step that beautifies the chocolate truffles, but isn’t necessary to enjoy the taste. Using some kind of coating is a good idea because at room temperature the truffles are quite soft.
  • When making the chocolate coated truffles, you can mix other ingredients into the inner truffle (after the mixture in step 8 has cooled somewhat), such as salt or nuts. After adding the chocolate coating, you can sprinkle a small amount of topping on top so it looks pretty and to show what’s inside.
  • To beautify the chocolate coated truffles, after they have hardened somewhat, drizzle any leftover tempered chocolate over the coated chocolate.
  • I’ve found that forming the truffles in step 11 can be a messy and finicky process. Rolling the balls between your palms doesn’t work very well. Be prepared to get your hands dirty and don’t worry about making the balls perfectly round.

Serving: 1 uncoated truffle | Calories: 87 calories | Total Fat: 6 grams | Net Carbohydrates: 4 grams | Fiber: 1 gram | Protein: 1 gram

* Nutrition data is approximate and is for informational purposes only.