Raw chocolate is a nice alternative to regular dark chocolate, especially because you can easily control what goes into it. This recipe has just three main ingredients – cacao butter, cacao powder, and maple syrup or honey to sweeten – but a touch of salt and vanilla add some depth of flavour.
There are some measurable health benefits to consuming raw chocolate, but I’m not really qualified to speak on that, so I’ve included a couple of links to articles below instead. I notice a real and positive change in how I feel both mentally and physically when I reach for raw over store bought chocolate, so you might too.
Though I talk about the positives of raw chocolate here for PMS and its associated symptoms, raw cacao isn’t just good for women! In addition to supporting period-related illnesses, magnesium can be helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease (and everyone has a heart) so it’s a good choice for anyone. Unless you already have cardiovascular disease; then take your damn meds.
With that in mind, I still wouldn’t choose raw chocolate over a normal chocolate bar if it didn’t taste great, and it does! We’re not about drinking kelp over here, but if something is tasty and healthy, then it’s the better choice for sure.
Raw Chocolate and Magnesium
Cacoa powder reportedly has a number of health benefits that largely disappear when heated at a high temperature, but stick around if it’s not cooked. Magnesium, some iron, a bit of protein and dietary fibre.
Magnesium is supposed to help with the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and the idea here is that reaching for some magnesium-rich raw chocolate instead of regular old dark (or, perish the thought, milk or white!) chocolate might help to alleviate some of those symptoms.
So I eat a lot of raw chocolate around my period and part of me thinks it’s a placebo effect, because does PMS even exist? And then I remember that’s the patriarchy talking, because obviously it exists, and I eat another piece of chocolate and feel better.
A single piece of raw chocolate each day obviously can’t replace a magnesium supplement if you need one, but it does contain some magnesium, and that’s better than none. The way I see it is, I’m going to eat chocolate anyway, so I might as well eat a type that might make me feel good.
Raw cacao contains over 100% more magnesium, iron, and potassium than cocoa per 100 grams. A 15 year old study showed that the antioxidants in cocoa may help to reduce cardiovascular disease, and more recent research suggests that consuming dark chocolate can help to reduce both stress and inflammation. All the more reason, really.
Making your own chocolate bars
Apart from this, raw chocolate is delicious and easy to make. I don’t bother with tempering. Of course, tempering also heats the chocolate in any case, so it gets chucked in the freezer instead.
There are piles of options to jazz up your chocolate bar, with as many toppings as you can think of. I love a bit of orange zest, like in this pomegranate orange chocolate bar. Choose whatever you like best. Coconut, nuts, dried fruit, sweet spices, it’s all good.
You can use silicon moulds to make actual bars, or go for drops on parchment paper, or just pour the whole batch into a parchment lined container or ice cube tray for a more relaxed bar. That’s what I do, so there’s definitely no need to buy a mould if you want to make it yourself.
If you want to make chocolate but don’t want to pay the hefty price tag for raw cacao, then go with normal cocoa powder. It’ll taste just as good, if not even more mild, and is a lot easier on the wallet. You lose some benefits but it’s still good!
The best trick to make snappy chocolate, apart from keeping it in the freezer: make sure your ingredients are warm when mixed. Don’t place the melted cacao butter onto a cold surface or into a cold dish before mixing with the honey/syrup – warmer than room temperature is best!
You can see in the close up shot that my chocolate looks a touch grainy – it’s because my house was really cold and I took the pan off the heat so it cooled too quickly. So by the time I mixed in the honey and cacao, it wasn’t really warm anymore, so I spooned instead of poured into the mould. It’s still really tasty frozen though, just a bit softer.
How to use it
Apart from eating your chocolate as is, you can use it in any treat that’ll be stored in the refrigerator. Vegan peanut butter cups, bounty bars, or top your overnight oats with a couple squares. Top off your treats (like these peanut butter banana popsicles) with a drizzle of raw chocolate, coat anything you like, go nuts.
It makes a nice gift, too, as long as it doesn’t get too warm during transportation. I like to eat a bit of raw chocolate every day and then amp it up a bit if you’re experiencing PMS symptoms. It works for me, might work for you too.
If you find that the chocolate is a bit too bitter for you, but you still want those vitamins, then try this dairy free hot chocolate instead. It’s still got the raw cacao and cacao butter, but with some plant based milk to round things out for a nice mild chocolate taste.
Since this recipe uses so few ingredients, there aren’t really a lot of substitutions available. It’s okay to use regular or dark cocoa powder for the raw cacao as mentioned above, and you can add any spices or extra flavourings that you like.
Honey and maple syrup can be used interchangeably. This is purely for a vegan option and doesn’t affect the texture or flavour. I have made this with coconut sugar but it tends to leave a lot of crystals throughout the chocolate, so only do that if you don’t mind a lot of crunch.
There isn’t a proper sub for cacao butter. You can add coconut oil if you’ve run out and need to add just a touch more fat to reach the full amount, but all coconut oil makes for a greasy raw chocolate. We’re going for rich, creamy, good raw chocolate here, thanks.
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- 50 grams cacao butter
- 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup*
- 35 grams cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract**
- Pinch sea salt
- Any toppings freeze dried fruit, spices, bee pollen, etc.
- Line a small/medium container with parchment paper and set aside. I use a bread tin.
- In a heat proof glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, gently melt the cacao butter.
- Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat and whisk in the honey until fully incorporated (see above photo) and it becomes a smooth golden colour and the consistency of soft butter. If you don’t whisk it for long enough you risk separation.
- Add the cacao powder, vanilla, and salt and whisk again until combined.
- Pour the chocolate into the lined container and immediately top with any desired toppings. Cool to room temperature before freezing, then break into pieces and store in a sealed container in the freezer for up to a month.