How to Make Chocolate

October 13, 2012 3:00 am

Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian in Vancouver, Canada who feeds her 2-year-old plenty of kale and quinoa and will pretty much talk your ear off about why you should eat more organic food if you let her. She shares her nutrition musings (and occasional rants) on her blog, Eat Drink Be Happy, and partners with her dietitian-in-crime, Heather McColl on a recipe blog called The Fresh Sheet. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Pouring Homemade Chocolate

Chocolate. What is it with girls and chocolate? You don’t find many of us who are neutral on the subject. I was, though. I didn’t see the point, really. Give me a chunk of goat cheese on nice cracker and call it a day. My eyes, as they say, have been opened. I am interested in chocolate, of course, out of a strictly scientific inquiry into its anti-oxidant benefits. Of course…

Homemade Chocolate, Cocoa Powder and Hazelnuts

Chocolate has long been prized as a fortifying elixir. Montezuma, the Aztec emperor famous for his revenge, said that chocolate was a “divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue.” That’s right…we used to drink the stuff. And cocoa beans were ground with stones. The technology for a Snickers bar was a good 600 years off at that point.

Homemade Chocolate Ingredients

If ‘chocolate’ is synonymous with ‘candy bar’ around your house, you might be surprised to learn that the cocoa bean is crunchy and bitter. You get two fractions from cocoa beans – the cocoa powder and the cocoa butter. Early on, chocolate was simply cocoa powder, cocoa butter and sugar. Technology made chocolate smoother, creamier and shinier; food conglomerates have made chocolate cheaper by substituting yucky vegetable oils, cheap fillers and very little of the precious cocoa bean. Good quality dark chocolate has very rich, complex flavours and cocoa buffs can debate single origin chocolate the way oenophiles can sniff out tobacco notes in a malbec.

Homemade Chocolate, Melting Coconut Oil

Cocoa beans contain a whole lot of biologically interesting substances, namely caffeine and theobromine – they fight fatigue! – and compounds known to evoke the same chemical response in the brain as falling in love. That’s why girls like chocolate! Cocoa is also incredibly rich in compounds called flavonols, which are potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant chemicals. It is for these flavonols that you want to make your own, unprocessed, chocolate. Processing can degrade a lot of these healthful compounds.

Homemade Chocolate Stirring

Making your own chocolate can be inexpensive or a bit pricey, depending on the ingredients you use. If you typically buy good chocolate, you will definitely save money per bar.

Finished Homemade Chocolates

5.0 from 2 reviews
DIY Homemade Chocolate
Recipe Type: Dessert
  • ½ cup of either pure cocoa butter or virgin coconut oil
  • ½ - ¾ cup of raw, ethically sourced cocoa powder
  • 2-3 tbsp of honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp of vanilla bean seeds
  • optional – unsweetened dried fruit or raw nuts of choice, plus up to ⅛ tsp of cinnamon and/or cardamom
  1. Line a small loaf pan with a piece of parchment large enough that it wraps up two sides. This will make the chocolate easy to remove later on. Alternately, you could use silicone muffin cups for medallions. Sprinkle dried fruit or nuts across bottom of pan, if using.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt your fat over low heat.
  3. When melted, add cocoa powder and honey and stir to incorporate for 2-3 minutes. ¾ cup cocoa and 3 tbsp honey will give you a seriously dark chocolate. ½ cup cocoa and 2-3 tbsp honey is milder and sweeter.
  4. Turn off heat and stir in vanilla bean and spices, if using.
  5. Pour into loaf pan or cups and refrigerate until hard, at least 2 hours.
  6. Remove from fridge, cut into bars or just devour the whole darn thing. Note that this chocolate will be a bit more melt-y than the store-bought kind.
Because honey is a heavier substance, it may settle to the bottom of the chocolate. This creates a nice, fudgy layer but if you prefer a standard texture, stick to maple syrup.

Wondering whether chocolate passes The Kitchen Test? Here’s Andrew’s #Unprocessed FAQ on Chocolate.

October Unprocessed2012

This guest post was part of the October Unprocessed 2012 Challenge, in which more than 6,000 people pledged to eat no processed food for the month. Learn More.

19 Comments on "How to Make Chocolate"
  1. Comment left on:
    October 13, 2012 at 8:01 am
    Cheryl says:

    Desiree, this looks heavenly! I can’t wait to try it. Where do you find your cocoa butter and cocoa powder?

    • Comment left on:
      October 13, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Hi Cheryl,

      I get my coconut oil from a local Vancouver company, Organic Lives, that sources directly traded raw products and my cocoa and cocoa butter from navitas naturals which is available online and all over north america.


  2. Comment left on:
    October 13, 2012 at 8:22 am
    Hannah says:

    Is it crucial that the coconut oil is virgin? It seems like all I can find is pressed…

    • Comment left on:
      October 13, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Hi Hannah,

      Do you mean cold pressed? Essentially, that is virgin coconut oil!

  3. Comment left on:
    October 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Will real Vanilla/Vanilla Extract work in place of the beans? And will these work for chocolate chips?

    • Comment left on:
      October 13, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Hi Jacqui,

      Real vanilla will absolutely work in the recipes. Just a 1/2 tsp is all you need.

      If you want to do chocolate chips, it will be a different method and ratio. You won’t need as much coconut oil; just melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler with just enough real cream, coconut oil or cocoa butter to give you the desired consistency. If the chips are totally unsweetened, add your favourite sweetener and then pour into molds.


      • Comment left on:
        October 13, 2012 at 10:48 am

        Thank you! I have been wanting to make chocolate chip cookies (I’m trying to show my family that unprocessed doesn’t mean that their favorite foods are “off the list”)

    • Comment left on:
      October 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm

      Jacqui, did you mean to MAKE chocolate chips?

      Instead of pouring the chocolate into molds, pour it into a baking sheet lined with parchment, spread it out into an even layer, and let the chocolate cool. Then you can break it up into “chips.” =)

  4. Comment left on:
    October 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm
    Lauren says:

    Hi Andrew! I just found your blog and am loving it! The rules on your ‘about’ page are ones I adhere to as well. This chocolate looks amazing! I can’t wait to explore more of your recipes.

  5. Comment left on:
    October 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I so badly need to try this! NOW!

    Wait… darn, it’s way too late. It’ll have to wait a bit. But I have a jar of extra virgin coconut coming in the mail and just bought the darkest, most beautiful cocoa powder ever. I just know what I will be using them for!

    I’ll be making my very own Fleur de Sel Fine Chocolate. Oh my, I can’t wait! Thank you so much for this amazing recipe.

  6. Comment left on:
    October 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I’ve never tried making chocolate but I have everything I need in the pantry. It will be an interesting Sunday afternoon. :)

  7. Comment left on:
    October 14, 2012 at 3:16 am
    Gloria says:

    Thanks for the suggestions of using silicon cupcake molds. I used a similar recipe for making vegan chocolate chips and I was wondering about making them into chocolate candies. One word of caution for those who have not tried this. Coconut oil has a very low melting point. These chocolates will definitely melt in your hands from my experience. I store my homemade chocolate in the freezer to keep it from being messy.

  8. Comment left on:
    October 14, 2012 at 5:27 am

    Thanks for posting this recipe! I’ll definitely be trying it out. Maybe with some chili sprinkled through for spice? Yum!

    • Comment left on:
      October 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Hi Katie,

      Chili and cinnamon are delicious! And yes, thanks to Gloria for the note. Coconut oil gives an amazing, melting texture but the downside is that it melts in your hands…before your mouth. Keeping them well chilled will help.

  9. Comment left on:
    October 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm
    Colleen says:

    Desiree, Have you tried this recipe with Dutch Chocolate? I know it is on the “exceptions” list for Unprocessed, but I love Dutch Chocolate! By the way, Dutch chocolate uses potassium to alkalize it.

    • Comment left on:
      October 31, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Hi Colleen,

      I have made it once with typical dutched cocoa with no issues but I know that Andrew had an issue with a dutched cocoa. The pH might affect the way it blends but give it a go. Be sure to turn off the heat before adding the cocoa and just stir through. Let me know how it goes!

  10. Comment left on:
    October 22, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I’ve been making a lot of white chocolate lately but I have a feeling that this tastes WAY better. So fun and simple. I’ll have to try this soon!

  11. Comment left on:
    October 31, 2012 at 10:17 am
    Colleen says:

    Desiree, I did go ahead and take the plunge with Dutch chocolate and the recipe turned out fabulous! I have already passed your recipe along to my European relatives (who can only get Dutched chocolate unless they pay outrageous prices for shipping), and they are loving it!

    Thanks again for another wonderful variation on one of my favorite foods. :)

  12. Comment left on:
    September 1, 2013 at 7:18 am
    Allison says:

    Once I’ve made this can I use it as cooking chocolate in other things?

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