Chocolate is probably the most popular confection in the world. There are so many excellent brands and varieties from different countries, it’s hard to pick a favorite. There is the American Hershey’s plain and simple milk chocolate, the luxurious flavors of Belgium-based Godiva, London’s Cadbury, the Italian brand of Ghirardelli, Lindt out of Zurich, Switzerland, and another Italian, Ferrero Rocher.
We make chocolate cakes, hot chocolate, chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate pudding, chocolate-covered cherries and the nuts – name the nut and we cover it with chocolate. White chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate with caramel and peanut butter – don’t forget that great combination. We also have chocolate tea, chocolate martinis and even chocolate-flavored vodka. And there is also a chocolate facemask!
Yes, we have found healthy reasons to consume and use chocolate. In fact, over the last few years, dark chocolate has been named as a healthy food – it’s full of antioxidants, it contains fiber and minerals, it can stimulate the arteries to produce nitric oxide, which can help reduce blood pressure, and, are you ready for this – dark chocolate can increase brain activity. To get these benefits, you have to consume quality dark chocolate with a high level of cocoa.
Will our obsession with chocolate ever end?
Doubt it. But wait – what if you could make your own chocolate!
It’s definitely possible and once you get it down pat, maybe you can even turn it into a business. More on that later…
When you are ready to make your own chocolate, there are some intricacies involved that make it almost an art form. You have to learn how to temper the chocolate, how to store it and how to flavor it to your liking. Some of the ingredients, in fact, are not so easy to come by for some (depending where you live – rural or urban), but there are substitutes and even ways to use your microwave oven.
A Little History
Chocolate’s beginnings weren’t as a candy and it didn’t even contain sugar. It started out as a bitter drink made from cacao beans. Its origins go back, some say as far back as 1400 B.C. Historians say that the sweet pulp of the cacao that surrounds the beans was fermented into an alcoholic drink. Wow.
According to the Smithsonian, the cacao beans was highly regarded and even used as currency in South America at one point. The Mayans and Aztecs both believed that the bean had mystical powers.
When you look at the cacao bean, it is hard to imagine that that little beans can turn into something as pleasurable as a chocolate bar. Sweet-tasting chocolate evolved when the Europeans came into the picture and began adding honey or sugar. Even then, it wasn’t common and actually only consumer by the wealthy. By the late 17th century, early 18th century, the cacao bean was beginning to be experimented with and by 1828, a Dutch chemist has developed a way to make powdered chocolate out of the bean, and eventually added ingredients to make the chocolate bar.
Two of the first companies to produce chocolate candy on a mass basis was Cadbury out of Great Britain and Nestle. In fact, in the U.S., chocolate was considered a reward and included in the rations of U.S. soldiers.
And it’s still a rewarding force – considering that chocolate candy is a $4 billion industry in the U.S. alone. Since that comes out to about half a pound of chocolate a month per American, it would make you think twice about biting off a piece of that bar yourself, right? Are you ready to make your own chocolate?
The Make Your Own Chocolate Recipe
There are certain benefits to making your own chocolate. One is that you eliminate some of the sweeteners (such as high fructose) and other additives that can be found in commercial chocolate.
There are different methods that go back to making your own powder from actual cocoa beans. It takes a lot of hard work and certain equipment to turn the beans into cocoa powder or paste. Check the Internet for the best methods based on your patience and available equipment.
Besides, those beans are not always so easy to find and they are not inexpensive either. It’s up to you, too, as to how much work you want to put into it. So instead of preparing the beans and turning them into powder, you can buy cocoa powder at most grocery chains.
Here’s one easy method to make your own chocolate, This one should be a piece of (chocolate) cake if you’ve already taken the course mentioned above. This is what you will need:
- 2/3 cup of milk (evaporated or even powdered milk works, too)
- 2 cups of cocoa powder
- ¾ cup of butter (melt or at least let it soften to blend better)
- 1 cup of water
- ¼ cup of flour
- ½ cup of powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together the cocoa powder and the butter into chunks, then put into a food processor (or mixer or blender) and blend into a fine paste. Place the water into a pan you can put on the stove (like something you would make soup in) and add the paste. Heat it but not to boiling. Pour this back into original bowl and add the milk, the flour, the sugar and the vanilla. Mix it by hand or in a food processor until it is smooth without lumps. Take your concoction and pour/scoop it into an ice cube tray or bowl or cookie shapes sheet. Put it in the freezer for at least six hours and then enjoy!
There are variations of this, so make sure that you look around for ideas to add flavor or things such as nuts or how to make it white chocolate or dark chocolate. Remember that dark chocolate in particular has a lot of health benefits.
Turn It Into A Business
Americans love homemade things. And that goes for chocolate, too. Once you get the process down as to how to make your own chocolate and throw in your own variations, try turning it into a home-based business.
The very act of making the chocolate can bring you rewards in itself. Look into this course on how to make cooking videos. They are extremely popular and combined with the art of how to make your own chocolate could turn into a lucrative little side business for a stay-at-home parent or weekend kitchen warrior.
Another option is to use your chocolate-making skills for cakes and cookies, etc. Imagine making a wedding cake with homemade chocolate decorations on it, or birthday cakes with your special brand of homemade chocolate icing.
Cakes and cake decorating are one area, and there are others that require chocolate as ingredients, such as cookies, tarts and pastries. Marco Ropke is a fourth generation pastry chef and he can teach you how to make totally yummy sweets for your family, friends, that special someone or even for your own catering or specialty business.
It’s obvious that if you want to make your own chocolate, it’s going to take a bit of effort and the right combinations of ingredients. People’s tastes are different, so be ready to experiment a little to get the taste and texture that you want.