Cacao Paste ~ Now What~?~!


I have recently bought some cacao paste from  I seem to be paralyzed, though. I am not sure what I want to do with this cacao paste. I mean, the longterm goal is to make the most delicious and healthy chocolate in the world. The short term goal is to learn how to make it sweet, and have the right texture. I happen to think texture is important in my chocolate sampling.  It seems to me that most healthy chocolates have a dry and powdery texture. I don’t enjoy that as much as a commercial dark chocolate, with that  glorious hard “SNAP” texture. I would like to create a chocolate with a low glycemic index. With that in mind, stevia would probably be a good sweetener selection, yet agave or yacon might give me a better end texture. They have comparatively low G.I. and offer some health benefits, too. So…. I am undecided on what to do, and here I sit, unable to move forward. I have some fun ingredients on hand, like goji berries, hemp seed, raw unsweetened coconut, cashews, and my favorite: cayenne~! I’ll come blog again when I have some new ideas on how to move forward. Maybe I can visit the Gnosis Chocolate Website for some inspiration~! I doubt any raw chocolatier does it any better than they do~!

Link to Cacao Paste - what the heck am I going to do with mine????

Link to - a great resource to read about and buy raw foods.

Link to Agave Nectar - I use this in my coffee instead of stevia or sugar. But, if you look for this, make sure to buy the raw kind or you’re basically just buying High Fructose Corn Syrup, HFCS, which is “way bad for you”.

Link to Gnosis Chocolate – The most healthy chocolate available on the commercial market. Oh, and they get the texture right, too.



Honey Sunflower Seeds & Raisin Bark

I am going to an “event” today, and I am bringing one of the sweet treats that will end the meal. I decided to make 2 different kinds of chocolates. I’ll blog each one separately, each a unique recipe.

This is a simple recipe, and affordable to make for larger groups. The price of sunflower seeds is considerably lower than the price of nuts, and raisins are delicious in chocolate, and also affordable.  That said, it isn’t always about saving money, in this case it is about making the money go farther… making more dessert for the same amount~!

I chose honey roasted sunflower kernels from the dig bin in my amazing supermarket. I went with the golden raisins this time. I don’t know why. I decided these ingredients would taste good in milk chocolate. I didn’t want to get into the big tempering ordeal (so much leaf raking to be done today, too), so I used the chocoley chocolate. Tastes great while keeping things simple. I melted the chocolate and added a whole bunch of seeds and raisins. I like very chunky chocolates… so I tend to add as much as I can, with the chocolate still maintaining the snap we all adore in chocolate. I spread it out on a pretty textured plastic sheet, let cool, cut it with a big knife into smaller square pieces. Viola~!

Superfood Chocolate is Healthy~!

Lately I have been experimenting with superfoods…. of course that means I am experimenting with superfood chocolate as well. When I eat my chocolate now, I am convinced that I am eating heath food. I am still working my way through that 10 pound box of chocolate that I wrote about earlier. (I love that entry…. the story about the chocolate guy who came for the California gold rush, and he found out that people were more than glad to trade their gold for his chocolate). Anyway, when that chocolate is gone, I’ll experiment more with raw chocolate…. then I’ll REALLY be eating heath food extreme when I am eating my chocolate. But for now, I’m sure I am heading is a very good direction. Don’t get me wrong, I still have favorite recipes that aren’t superfood chocolates. I can’t quite ever envision myself as a health food puritan, but I would like to think I am taking good care of this body that God gave me to nourish. So, you can probably already guess that I used dark chocolate for this recipe. 70%. Then I added ingredients I happen to have around for smoothies. I added goji berries, hemp seed, flax seed, raw coconut, and my favorite ingredient, cayenne pepper. So, why those ingredients? Because they are especially nutrient dense. I like as a resource for reading about superfoods.  I buy stuff from them if I can’t find it anywhere else, or if I can find a good coupon. I have also found that is a great resource for buying health foods, vitamins, and supplements. They give good prices, and coupons, and free shipping when you buy an affordable amount of stuff. But for research, is super~!  Here you can skim for information on goji berries, and here on hemp seeds.  Flax (flax seeds) are good for us, and quite affordable, too~!~! Cayenne pepper has antioxidants and vitamin C…. and it is good for blood flow, among other things. Some folks actually take this in pill form (Cayenne Capsules). But, I like the zing it gives to chocolate. The tastes are so very complimentary.

OH, but read about cacao~!  Raw chocolate is one of the most healthy things we can eat, plus it stimulates love and bliss emotions in 2 ways in our brains…. better than a chill pill~!  Raw chocolate~!  That is where I am heading……chocolate cocoa cacao paste.

Chunky Bars for Dad~!

OH dear… It is Father’s Day again. What to get Dad….. always the question. There is nothing in the world he needs. He has a lovely wife who makes sure of that~! But, I know a secret. Dad has an unquenchable sweet tooth. He doesn’t require the finest chocolate. He’ll eat anything. But there are a few ingredients that would be special to him… peanuts, heath crunch, dried cherries… sounds good to me, too.  I used the chocolate melts, instead of the Guittard chocolate. I didn’t want to have to worry about tempering the chocolate. Dad would like the Chocoley Chocolate just as much, anyway.

So, I melted up the chocolate, and got out the deep silicon ice cube tray… the one that makes the big chunky cubes. I lined the cubes with melted chocolate, then I added all kinds of yummy stuff inside. Then I filled the rest of the tray with chocolate, and stirred each cube slightly. I ran out of peanuts (bummer). So, each chunky square will have peanuts, and walnuts. I also included a small chunk of granola. So the dried cherries add a chewy texture, then the granola, peanuts, and walnuts add a softer crunch, and the heath bar crunch toffee bits add a sharp crunch. The squares will be about the size of a “Chunky Bar”… but he won’t have to stop at one. I’ll be giving him about a dozen, and it is Father’s Day, so he can eat them ALL~! I think this is going to work out fine as aFather’s Day gift~!

Hazelnut Truffles

We are going to our neighbors’ tonight for dinner. They said not to bring anything, but how can I do that?  I haven’t been to the grocery store in about a week, so a fruit salad isn’t an option…. Oh what to do?

Then I remember, I have a HUGE box of Guittard Chocolate.  I can make a chocolate something. But, I don’t feel like tempering chocolate today. OH OH OH…. I can make a chocolates spread.  No,  what would they use that for?  Well, they could__________…..  OH OH OH… I got it…. TRUFFLES~!  How easy~! How tasty… How gourmet~!

But, I don’t want to make something totally plain.  Yet, I don’t think these are people who take big food risks… so chipolte is not an option. What else do I have.  Oh look… hazelnuts. hazelnuts are delightful in a 35% milk chocolate.  Great!

So, I get out 1/2 cup of hazelnuts… toss them in the oven at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes, stirring them every 1 minute.  This way they are slightly toasted, which tastes better in chocolate. I chop the heck out of the nuts in the food processor.

I get out 3/4 cup of milk chocolate. melt it in the microwave at 50% power, so as not to burn the chocolate.  I add 1.5 tablespoons of cream to the chocolate, and mix it with the immersion blender (which has turned out to be a rather useful kitchen tool).  Add the hazelnuts and continue to blend.

Let cool to room temperature…. form into tiny little balls…. roll in cocoa powder, so they won’t be all gooey on the outside…. and there you go… about 20 minutes of prep time, but spread out over time spent cooling, and toasting the nuts…. Start to finish it takes about an hour, but only 20 minutes of your time.

I was quite pleased with the end product. It has 3 phases in your mouth. 1st the cocoa powder, then the truffle starts to melt and fill your mouth, then 3rd, the hazelnut hangs around for the big finish.  Fun, easy delicious~!


I puff my chocolate… I find I get more out of it that way~!  Does that sound interesting to you? It might be… Read more and I’ll tell you about it.

OK… here’s the deal. Chocolate is a non-negotiable for me… come hell or high water, I’m still gonna find a way to eat chocolate, and the more, the better. That’s where the Puffing comes in.  This is how I make my chocolate “bigger”… I add bulk by adding Kashi 7 Whole Grain Cereals Puffs. I haven’t figured out the exact proportions yet. I do it by texture. I add as much puff to my chocolate as I can while still maintaining the snap, bite, and flavor that I like from my chocolate. I’m not sure if I am  making my chocolate go 2x as far… but it is close. It is almost like having DIET chocolate… LOL… fiber and nutrition, fewer calories per ounce.

My most recent chocolate adventures have been an ancho bacon milk chocolate, which I make by making my reduced fat turkey bacon EXTRA crunchy by cooking it in the microwave, and adding that with some smoky ancho chile powder. I like it hot, so I add my pepper powder to suit my own taste buds. Yum~!  Very wonderful rich flavor… Yes, I puffed it so I can feel like I am eating more chocolate every time I grab my stash~!

And… I made more of my Crispy Chewy Chile Cherry Cashew Chocolate… Cayenne pepper in this batch…. and of I course bulked it up with Kashi puffs. I use chopped cashews, and SOUR dried cherries.

Lavender, Lancaster, & Jacq~!

My friend Jacqueline and I have admired the lavender chocolate by Dagoba for some time now. But, I typically have the same problem with most other peoples’ recipes. I wish that the seasoning were stronger. More lavender please~!

Well, as opportunity had it, when I went to Lancaster for a fall craft show I visited the Farmers Market in the center of town. There is a fabulous Herb Shop in that market. I always try to go there when I am in Lancaster. Central Market, Lancaster, PA. I spent about $30 and walked away with a good variety of wonderful herbs and spices. But, my real prize was the lavender buds. I love lavender, so I figured 2 oz. would be a good quantity. I now know that 2 ounces of lavender is a lot~!

I have been using lavender in a variety of cooking explorations (think floral tea blends, and “Herbs de Provence”). My favorite has been the lavender chocolate. I was motivated to dive right in because Jacqueline was coming to town. I decided to go with the most sincere form of flattery to Dagoba.  I made a lavender blueberry slab, on a floral textured sheet, and broke the slab into 2-bite sized pieces. I used the good 70% dark chocolate from Guittard… but skipped the tempering process. I just store the chocolate in the freezer; that does the trick. Now, Jacq is allergic to most nuts, so I didn’t add any. But, if I make this again, I will add diced walnuts (unless Jacq comes back and we indulge ourselves again… I love her even more than walnuts~!).

In the end I was extremely pleased with this chocolate. I made about 6 oz of dark choc, added over 1/2 tsp of ground lavender, and 2 tbsp of dried blueberries. YUM~!~!

This chocolate bar is a live link to Dagoba~!

Happy Birthday to ME !

Maybe not the greatest photo, but it sure was the greatest chocolate. Brook was asking me what kind of cake or pie I would like for my birthday. As I thought about it, I decided that if it really was my day to have my favorite things, I was going to have to make my own chocolate… I just like my own recipes the best. (Of course if it had really been all about me, one of the recipes would have had chipolte, or habanero pepper. But, Brook’s dad would be joining us later in the day. Tougher than nails in most every way, but he can’t handle the hot stuff.) Since I wanted it to be fun and fast, I decided to use the BadaBing Chocolate instead of the Guittard. No worries about tempering; still a very nice flavor. So, what did I make myself for my own birthday?  Naked Chunk and Cherry Jazz Hearts.

Naked Chunk is just as easy as a recipe can be. Melt milk chocolate, add bare naked granola. My favorite for this is their “Peak Protein” granola. Cinnamon, raisins, soft crunch. To form the chunks, I used a silicone ice-cube tray I bought at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I put a layer of chocolate on the bottom of each “cube”, then add the granola, then pour chocolate over the top. Each piece ends up a similar size to a Chunky Bar. One really gets to sink the teeth into these nuggets!

The Cherry Jazz Hearts came as a surprise, even to me. They happened as I was making them. I got a bunch of stuff out of the cabinets to take an inventory of possible ingredients. I had a lot of dried sour cherries. These are so good with dark chocolate that it blows my mind. It would have to be very dark chocolate! Nuts go well with almost everything. I like a lot of textures in my chocolate… I decided on walnuts. The fun part was that while I was pulling the variety out of my cabinets, a packet of jasmine tea pearls fell on me… in my face, as it were. I realllllllly love jasmine in chocolate. I wondered if it would be worth the risk. I used my secret trick of popping the ingredients in my mouth together…. OH YES… This would work out perfectly! And it did! I made them in heart shaped silicon ice cube trays, also from Bed, Bath & Beyond. I was concerned that Brook’s dad wouldn’t like this one. But we all agreed that this was a good as chocolate possibly could be. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME~!

Happy Birthday Josh~Boy!

Happy Birthday Josh~Boy,

Here is a description of your crazy birthday chocolates:

Ginger dark chocolate – 70% Guittard dark chocolate with spicy dried ginger, in triangle mold. (Bloomed… sorry, looks mottled, but still tastes the same.)

Hot Cherry Pop-Rock-Chocolate -70% Guittard dark chocolate with habanero powder, sour cherries, and pop rocks! Snap-Cracked slab.

Bare Naked Chunk – 32% Guittard milk chocolate with Bare Naked granola, in deep square mold.

Jasmine Pecan Bark – 32% Guittard milk chocolate with stone ground jasmine pearls and pecans. Snap-Cracked slab.

Lady Grey Sunflower – True white chocolate by Guittard with Lady Grey Tea and sunflower seeds. Snap-Cracked slab.

Pink Lemon-aide  - True white chocolate by Guittard with dried strawberry and lemon-aide powder, in mountain mold.

Jasmine Opera Fudge

This is a fun experiment! I saw a recipe for white fudge (AKA: Opera Fudge). It seemed like it would be a wonderfully adaptable base recipe. I could mix in flavorings, fruit and nuts, even peanut butter, and it could be a different fudge each time. This was my very first time making fudge. I didn’t like the “beating with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes” part. But, I survived.

I put Jasmine tea and raw vanilla bean into the milk and let it steep for a long time. I strained out the tea leaves and the vanilla bean.  Then I followed the whit fudge recipe. In the end I thought that the recipe was very sweet, even though I doubled the salt content. I was going to add the almond to decorate the top of the fudge after I had cut it into one inch squares and dipped it into dark chocolate. I decided to mix some extra sliced almonds into the fudge itself… it cuts the sweetness a little more.  I’ll probably still decorate the dipped fudge with a little bit more of the sliced almonds. I hope I remember to take a photo of the finished product. Life is pretty hectic these days!

Oh – I licked the spoon. Lovely jasmine & vanilla flavor! Not too strong… but the fudge is still quite sweet.