Raw chocolates are easy to make. They are also said to be much better for you than regular chocolate; more of the beneficial active ingredients in raw cacao are retained. However, I find plain old raw chocolate on its own can be just a teeny bit boring. So I’ve come up with a few ways to make them a bit more interesting.
These sumptuous coconut bliss balls are a type of raw chocolate truffle. They don’t have the name bliss balls for nothing. Try one and you’ll wonder why you’ve ever bothered with conventional truffles. Well maybe I exaggerate a little, but only just.
It’s been a while since I did a round-up of chocolate treats. I’ve had a few sent to me over the last several months and now feels like a good time to let you know about them all. I hope you enjoy my mega review of chocolate treats.
Raw chocolate is where it’s at. The interest in raw foods generally is growing and it’s no revelation now that chocolate can be good for you. It has a number of virtues including vitamins, minerals, omega 3 and 6. fatty acids, flavanoids and theobromine. So far, so good. However, this is mitigated against by the processing and additives such as sugar that go into “normal” chocolate. The darker the chocolate the better it will be for you. Raw chocolate does not go through the same heat processing and thus retains more of its beneficial effects. The jury is still out as to whether agave syrup is better or worse for us than sugar. It has a low glycaemic index but is high in fructose.
You’ll find the recipe for a rather delicious dairy-free tropical smoothie with coconut, mango & banana at the bottom of this post. But I’m starting off with a look at a few raw products that are currently available. Whilst I’m not quite at the forefront of raw food consumption, it does make up a part of my diet and I don’t just mean salad leaves. I’ve been a fan of raw chocolate since long before I started this blog; the concept of raw chocolate and other sweet treats that are actively good for you is one I find most appealing. Unlike cheap chocolate bars, I find these satisfy quite quickly and I’m unable to gorge myself on them.
A rich and creamy chocolate mousse that’s not only delicious, but also healthy and made entirely with raw ingredients. It’s dairy, gluten and refined sugar free as well as being vegan. It’s also very simple to make. The date syrup used for sweetening can be exchanged for agave nectar or honey.
Coconut oil seems to be the new superfood that everyone is raving about. I have been using it now for many years, mostly as a skin moisturiser and eaten in its raw state spread on toast. Occasionally I’ve used it for making raw chocolates or cooking savoury dishes. However, it was not until The Groovy Food Company sent me some of their organic virgin coconut oil to try did I think about using it in baking. Ahh, now that got the brain cells firing. But as soon as the many possibilities started to emerge, I changed my mind; I decided I wanted keep it in its raw state. Something quick and delicious that was truly healthy and 100% organic was in order – not something I achieve very often.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so can easily be used as a spread or body butter. It melts very quickly and has a high heat threshold making it ideal for stir fries in particular. It contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are a healthy fat quickly transformed by the body into energy and are not stored as body fat. For maximum benefit, coconut oil is best used in its cold pressed state. It is said to help reduce abdominal obesity and protect against insulin resistance thus reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. It is also said to benefit digestive disorders and boost the bodies immune system due to the high percentage of lauric acid contained. Used on the face and body, it acts as a good moisturiser and has many purported benefits including protection from UV radiation from the sun.
On opening the jar, a powerful aroma of coconut was released and I couldn’t resist tasting some. It was both sweet and unmistakably coconutty which is more than can be said of some I’ve tried.
I was also sent a bottle of The Groovy Food Company’s organic premium agave nectar, which is often used as a low Gi sugar substitute. I am an occasional user of agave nectar, but this gave me an opportunity to try it out in a few more things. I tried it out in my matcha smoothies as a substitute for the honey and it worked very well, proving a lot easier to handle than honey as it less viscous.
So, what I wanted to make was a healthy version of that children’s classic rice crispy cakes. My first task was to find some sugar free crunchy cereal, not something I thought was going to be particularly difficult. So I was truly shocked when I went to my local Co-operative, only to find they sold no sugar free cereal at all except for oats. I trekked off to our local health food shop and found the last bag of unsweetened cereal they had in stock – luckily it was puffed rice, which is what I’d been hoping for.
This is how I made:
Vegan Chocolate Puffs
- Melted 1 heaped tbsp cold pressed coconut oil in a pan over low heat.
- Added 50g 100% cocoa chocolate.
- Stirred in 1 tbsp cashew nut butter (any nut butter would be good, but that was the one I had to hand).
- Added 3 tbsp agave nectar, 1 tsp raw cocoa powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract (homemade) and a pinch of Himalayan pink rock salt.
- Stirred until smooth, then removed from heat.
- Weighed 100g 100% puffed rice into a bowl, then poured over the chocolate mixture and stirred until all of the rice was coated.
- Placed teaspoonfuls of the mixture into mini muffin cases and pressed the rest into two silicone moulds.
- Left in my cold kitchen to set, but would normally put them in the fridge.
|My attempt at a butterfly|
These were so damn delicious, I polished off rather more than I should have done as soon as I’d taken the photographs. They were light and crunchy and the chocolate coating had a lovely smooth mouth feel. They tasted sweet and chocolatey and the blend of cashew butter and coconut oil gave a nutty and fragrant quality redolent of the tropics.
Now I’m away to ponder exactly what bake I want to try with the coconut oil.
The Groovy Food Company products can be found at Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose amongst other places.
I’m entering these into Breakfast Club, founded by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and hosted this month by Gill of Tales Pigling Bland who has chosen rocket fuel as the theme with a view to help her run the London Marathon. I reckon these would make a very tasty rocket fuel for breakfast that isn’t going to sit heavily on the stomach, but would provide plenty of energy and nutrients.
Healthy raw chocolate truffles with a chewy texture that taste of chocolate and honey. You might know these as bliss balls or energy balls. In any case, they’re delicious, naturally vegan and very quick and easy to make.
Rather late in the day I know, but I loved the wrapper of this so much, it took me a while to get around to eating it. It was actually a Christmas present, but it wasn’t until the end of February that I decided to savour the contents. It’s a shame I didn’t write up about it at the time as recollections are already starting to dim.
There were a few simple ingredients, all raw: Cocoa Nibs (14.2%), Chilli (1.3%), Coconut butter, Agave nectar, Golden raisins, Lucuma powder, Carob flour, Ground almonds. The wrapper proudly states, Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free and Guilt Free – who could resist?
This was very different in texture to any other raw chocolate bars I’ve tried, which is probably why they’ve called it a pie. There was a nice crunch of cocoa nibs and I could taste the carob – it was quite delicious. Like all delicious things, it was over far too soon. A word of warning, however: you need to be a chilli lover to enjoy this particular bar, oops pie, as it’s very hot. As a chilli lover, I did.
Handmade in St Ives, Cornwall by Living Food, this bar and other flavours actually are available at our very own Taste Cornwall in Liskeard.