Let’s face it…we all LOVE chocolate. But chocolate as we know it is not sustainable. The unsustainable farming techniques and slave and child labour used in the chocolate industry worldwide leaves a bitter taste on such a sweet and pleasurable thing. It is estimated that up to 40% of all cocoa is slave produced. Yet people eat 3 billion pounds of the stuff worldwide every year.
Choosing Fair Trade and organic chocolate this Easter is one way to ensure you’re doing your bit. But when it comes to gift-giving there’s nothing more satisfying than creating your own heart-felt, handmade present - and even more so by making it a sustainable and ethical one.
So why not make your own chocolate basket with fair trade and organic chocolate made from scratch and our stunning Gone Rural Grass Baskets or Zulu Telephone Wire Baskets with 15% off our Homewares Collection using the code EASTER2016? Here’s how…
We learnt how to make chocolate from scratch from the masters themselves: the Peruvians and Ecuadorians. The following method mixes the traditional indigenous techniques that we learnt out working with communities in Ecuador, with specialty modern chocolate-making practiced in chocolate factories and learnt from the talented guys at Chocomuseo in Cusco, Peru.
Pure, raw chocolate is known for its many health benefits so many health food shops now sell fair trade and organic cacao nibs already roasted and shelled. Start with 100gms. If you’re using ready-roasted nibs go straight to step 3.
1) If you can get your hands on raw beans, you can easily roast them in a heavy-based pan (preferably copper or clay). Place them in the pan with shells on a high flame and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for two minutes, reduce the flame to medium and keep stirring until the nibs start to crackle and pop. This is the nib separating from the shell. Once they are a rich chocolate brown colour and the smell has changed from an acidic to a sweet chocolaty one, they are ready (about 10 minutes). Be careful not to burn them.
2) Transfer your beans to a tray or bench to cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, cover them with a clean tea towel and crack them open using a rolling pin. Don’t be too gentle, but you don’t want them completely crushed either because next you need to separate the shells from the nibs.
3) First you’re going to grind the sugar. How much sugar you add depends on how bitter you want the chocolate and how much cacao you use. The basic ratio for dark chocolate is 60% cacao and 40% sugar or for really bitter chocolate 80/20% cacao/sugar. Grind your required amount of organic castor sugar into a super fine powder.
4) Once you have your roasted, shelled nibs you need to crush them. The best method for small amounts of cacao is using a spice grinder. Another easy way to do this is using a good food processor, but if you don’t have either a mortar and pestle and some elbow grease works too. Crush the nibs right down until you have a fine paste, almost liquid-like in consistency. The heat caused from grinding the nibs brings out the cocoa butter. If you like, you can add any spices you want to this step like chilli, cinnamon etc. Keep grinding it for another 10 minutes. You want to get it really fine because the finer the paste, the smoother the final product.
5) You’re almost done! If your chocolate paste will be quite thick so you now need to add some cocoa butter (also available from health food shops). How much you add also depends on how fine your chocolate is ground and how much is already released from the cacao. As a general rule, don’t add any more than 10%. Add your chocolate paste and cocoa butter to a bain marie and heat it just to melt the butter, stirring continuously. Leave your chocolate to cool overnight but do not put it in the fridge. Moisture ruins chocolate.
6) The next day, temper your chocolate and it’s ready to use! Be creative. You can mould it, use it to make truffles, fill it…whatever you choose. Your chocolate will be a little rustic and it won’t be as fine as commercial chocolate, but that’s going to be part of its charm. More importantly, it will taste amazing! Matched with our gorgeous baskets it will be the perfect ethical, sustainable and of course, delicious Easter gift.