Making your own vegan chocolate is not an easy endeavor, but the end product can be well worth the effort. Vegan chocolate from scratch will contain only the ingredients you want it to. Done correctly, it will still have all the marvelous tastes and textures of chocolate.
The first thing you need to find, in order to make vegan chocolate, is cacao beans. These beans are the base of all chocolate. They¬†can be bought from any number of sources.¬†The beans come dry in¬†bulk,¬†as a¬†whole bean or already separated into usable nibs. Importers and suppliers,¬†such as Chocolate Alchemy or Dagoba, are available online. They are¬†imported from¬†different cacao bean-growing corners of the world. Different regions beans have different tints of flavor.
Prepare Your Beans
Your cacao beans might come in a husk. The part you’re going to use to make chocolate, the cacao nibs, are inside this husk. You can free the nibs by simply rolling the beans in your hand or pushing a rolling pin over them. ¬†However, before you do that, you will need to roast the whole¬†beans to bring out the best¬†flavors.¬†A conventional oven set at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes¬†is usable, but not as desirable as a professional roaster. It is messy and time consuming to prepare unshucked beans.
It can be a good idea to buy nibs in bulk, instead of whole beans. They will have already been roasted and winnowed.¬†Then, you will need to grind the nibs. You can use a juicer or a food processor for this, although chocolate grinders are available. The end result should be a fine cacao paste. If you still find nibs and sediment in your chocolate, run it through the grinder again.
Sweeteners and Fats
Though you have technically created a chocolate paste, don’t get the spoon out yet. Without a sweetener, chocolate is very bitter and unpleasant tasting. Without added fat, it¬†will not be rich tasting or able to solidify.¬†There are many options for sweetening chocolate. Cane sugar is an easy favorite.¬†Diabetics will want to use artificial sweetener, people abstaining from processed sugars will want to use honey. To make the chocolate truly vegan, honey must be sacrificed in favor of agave, an all natural unprocessed plant extract.
Vegans will also not add any milk to the chocolate. Instead, add coconut milk or butter, and cocoa butter to give the chocolate a more creamy consistency. How much you add depends on how¬†mellow you want your chocolate to be. You will need to keep all these ingredients¬†mixing¬†in a mixing bowl for hours. This will help all the different ingredients become one solid.
Tempering and Molding
Tempering is what makes your chocolate smooth and glossy. It keeps a white “bloom” from forming over the chocolate and giving it a gritty texture. Tempering is heating and manipulating the chocolate. Heat your chocolate in a 100 degree double boiler until it simmers. Pour a portion of the chocolate out on a marble slab and rub in back and forth with a spatula for 15 minutes, until its temperature is around 80 degrees. Add more, but not all of the chocolate to the slab, and repeat. Then, add the cooled chocolate back into the chocolate in the pot that is still 100 degrees. The temperature of the entire chocolate should be around 90 degrees. It is tempered and ready to be molded.
You have just made your very own vegan chocolate. Eat it as solid candy or melt it to use as a topping. Healthy eating restrictions need not restrict you from enjoying one of life’s simplest and sweetest pleasures.