Homemade chocolate offers the most rich, smooth depth of flavor, simply incomparable to any chocolate I’ve tried, even the expensive gourmet kind. I doubt it’s any cheaper to make it yourself, but so worth it. Trust me. You also can control exactly how much sugar goes into it, as well as the type of sweetener and any flavoring you’d like. Did I mention it’s easy as pie? Have I convinced you yet?
But first, a more sobering thought. As this is a vegetarian blog, I know you’ve heard me talk about the importance of sustainability, the global consequences of our lifestyles, and ending cruelty to animals. Maybe you’ve even heard me wax on about “conscious consumerism” in other areas of my life and purchases. So here I am to talk about a related matter that requires all our attention- the atrocious human rights abuses that occur, particularly in the chocolate industry. If you’re not familiar with what goes on at conventional cocoa farms, most notably those in the Ivory Coast and other countries in Western Africa, here is a summary from Wikipedia:
“Traffickers promise paid work, housing, and education to children who are then forced to labour and undergo severe abuse, that some children are held forcibly on farms and work up to 100 hours per week, and that attempted escapees are beaten… 15,000 children from Mali, some under age 11, were working as slaves in cocoa production in Ivory Coast…In 2001 Chocolate Manufacturers Association acknowledged that slaves harvested some cocoa.”
43% of the world’s cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast.
I recommend going to the link above, and reading through the articles sited as references. Wikipedia makes a great starting point when learning about an issue, so check out this page and this page too.
Slavery is a grave inhumanity, that one would use and abuse another human being for their own purposes. And it is tragic that I, the consumer, am benefitting from this.
But! There’s good news. We the consumers have a lot of power in where we place our support. There are so many quality, fair trade chocolate brands that ensure the small cocoa farm owners and laborers are treated fairly. ALSO – I was happy to learn that most organic chocolate, while not necessarily fair trade, is slave-free! Organic farms undergo so many regulatory inspections that they don’t use slave labor because they wouldn’t get away with it. So, if fair trade is not available, organic is a great choice too. Yes, fair-trade and/or organic chocolate is more expensive, sometimes a lot more expensive. So I’m trying to use smaller amounts of chocolate, and less often, and skimp in other areas of my budget. It’s worth it.
Well, I suppose this wouldn’t be a proper “All About Chocolate” post if I didn’t mention: Dark chocolate is healthy for you. Excellent news indeed.
Ready to make some chocolate yet?
Notes: The amount of sweetener I used is very minimal. I like to let the chocolate flavor shine through. But feel free to use twice as much, even! Coconut oil will also work in place of the cocoa butter, but you’ll have to store it in the fridge due to coconut oil’s lower melting point. I also prefer the taste and texture that cocoa butter yields. I order my cocoa butter from Amazon.
- 2 cups fair-trade cocoa butter chunks
- 1 cup fair trade unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or other sweetener. Adjust amounts to taste)
- optional: add-ins or flavors (orange extract, nuts, sea salt, peppermint extract, etc)
In a covered sauce pan over low heat, melt the cocoa butter chunks until liquid. Turn off the heat and add the cocoa butter. Stir until completely smooth with no chunks and add the maple syrup (or sweetener). Note: if you’re using granulated sugar (non-liquid) add while you’re melting the cocoa butter. I transferred the mixture into a glass measuring cup to make pouring easier. Pour into candy molds, rubber ice cube molds, or any other container you prefer. Freeze for about 30 minutes until solid.
To end a serious post on a sweeter note, what would a discussion on chocolate be if it didn’t also involve roses? I couldn’t help but photograph this beautiful just-because bouquet from my sweet husband.