I had pleasure of attending Sarah Barber’s most recent workshop – Raw Chocolate for Beginners which came with the reassuring invitation to bring a tupperware container to take some goodies home at the end…

We started with a talk about everything chocolate – from what the beans look like to what sweeteners to use and the best equipment. We also got a chance to taste the raw bean which has an almost paper like coating around the bean which is then crushed to make the nibs.

Intro talk and equipment

Intro talk and equipment (moulds not essential – a tupperware container/lid can be used instead)

An introduction to ingredients

An introduction to ingredients

The first recipe had a cacao-butter base giving a warming background to the chocolate. This was useful to know in terms of playing with flavourings with this base – warmer ones may work better such as orange and spices.

Cacao butter based chocolate recipe

Cacao butter based chocolate recipe

The second recipe came with a coconut butter base, this time lending itself to cooler flavourings such as peppermint. We went for cacao nibs at the base of our heart shaped moulds with a peppermint oil and the result was divine (I have just finished eating one as I write this – all in the interests of research of course)…

Coconut butter based raw chocolate recipe

Coconut butter based raw chocolate recipe

We then moved on to a raw food caramac recipe made with cacao butter, lucuma and carob (amongst other things – including Sarah’s ‘secret mix’ which you will have to do the workshop to find out about!). I was fascinated to learn that many ‘superfoods’ such as Lucuma and Maca come from Peru and grow in extremely harsh environments (the theory being that they have developed great properties to survive as a result and these properties are then passed onto us). This time we went for a mulberry filling…

Raw caramac

Raw caramac

The morning was finished off with a batch of cacao fruit and nut truffles. These were whipped up in the food processor (with a bit of coaxing as the mixture can get a bit dense) and then rolled into balls and rolled in a choice of toppings including dried coconut, raw cacao and sesame seeds.

Cacao nut and fruit truffles

Cacao nut and fruit truffles

I also came away with some useful tips including:

  1. Keep everything at room temperature to prevent marks appearing on your chocolate.
  2. Don’t use a microwave to melt your chocolate (bad for many reasons!) – a porringer is best although a bowl over simmering water can work too.
  3. If you are feeling impatient you can set your chocolate in the freezer (although allowing it to set at room temperature reduces the chances of marks).
  4. The best way to move filled moulds is by using a chopping board underneath to keep everything flat.
  5. Be aware that substituting liquid sweeteners (agave etc) for powdered sweeteners can change the texture of your chocolate.
  6. Grate your cacao butter before melting to reduce the chance of over heating it.
  7. Chocolate made with a coconut base has a lower melting point and so needs to be kept in the fridge at all times.
  8. Give the filled mould a good couple of taps before leaving to set in order to release any air bubbles.
  9. Consider using coconut sugar as a good compromise between medium GI and a relatively natural source which hasn’t been over processed.
  10. Powder your sweeteners in a grinder to get them super fine helping to get a smoother texture in the end product. Also whizz the whole lot in the Vita-mix for the same reason…

It was a beautiful way to spend a beautiful sunny morning, and I am feeling super inspired to get creative with my raw sweets and branch out into some new recipes for raw chocolate. Thank you Sarah for another great workshop…

You can find out about Pure People’s upcoming workshops at: http://www.pure-people.co.uk/.

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