Homemade milk chocolate Recipes
AHHH…chocolate. If my best friend was a food this would be it. So amazingly satisfying on many different levels with so many options in flavors and taste. Milk, dark, bitter, organic, fair trade; the spices and flavorings are endless. Little does one realize though, chocolate is simple, easy, and quick to make yourself. You just need the right equipment and a few simple ingredients to get started with beginning chocolate making.
There is a huge range of quality in the market. From the low end with some mass market brands that, by looking closely at the ingredients, are not really chocolate, but chocolate flavored corn syrup with added chemicals to some of the very best specialty made. I tasted some of the most wonderful chocolate while living in France and miss visiting Joel Durand, one of the best chocolatiers in the world. He was famous for having an alphabet of flavors with the letter imprinted on the chocolate for reference: J for jasmine, L for lavender, E for earl grey. A very good, somewhat local chocolatier in the Hudson Valley is Oliver Kita, who makes high quality, award winning chocolate in a multitude of spices and flavors.
So why make your own chocolate? What’s the point? Can’t I just buy some?
Cost wise I would say it’s a about a break even when comparing the cost of a yummy higher end bar and your homemade chocolate. But here is the kicker….YOU control the ingredients and the taste completely. YOU control your spices and flavors, YOU control if your bar is vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, if it’s a 82% dark or a 56% milk, and it’s fun to say you made it all by yourself. This is chocolate at it’s purest and the taste is incredible. So fresh! Like you just picked a chocolate bar off the chocolate tree. There is no way to replicate that unless you make it yourself.
Chocolate is a great way to experiment what you like and how you like it. If you have any food allergies mass produced bars will probably have some sort of cross contamination issue, so this would be perfect for you as you control the environment where the chocolate is made.
Chocolate starts off with it’s main ingredient – the cocoa bean. Found in tropical regions around the world, most notably from South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia; with The United States and the United Kingdom being it’s largest consumers. They grow in pods that need to be chopped open to release the 30-50 beans that grow inside. The cocoa nib, and other cocoa solids are extracted to make a range of different products, most notably cocoa powder and cocoa butter to make chocolate from the bean. For the purpose of simplicity and in the interest of time, I am using already roasted and chopped cocoa nibs, not the whole bean.
What are nibs?
The inside of the cocoa bean; the meat. Cocoa nibs will impart the flavor of however the beans are roasted, so find a brand that fits your taste. As a side note though, the only way to control the true flavor is to roast beans yourself. Roasting is a very work heavy, involved process. But go for it! Here is a wonderful how to video on how to roast your own beans. They also describe the chocolate making process in greater detail for the continuation of more advanced chocolate techniques.
Taste some nibs straight out of the bag, to get a good feel for how bitter they are. That way you can gauge your taste buds for bitter/sweet and give you an idea where you want to go with your added sugar and extras. If you love it that way, don’t add any sugar and make a 100% dark.
RECIPE: HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE BARS
- some sort of blade grinder that can grind fine, like a coffee or spice grinder (not a burr grinder, the cacao will plug it up)
- double boiler (or make your own!)
- a mold of some sort (optional). I am using a basic small bar silicone mold, but go crazy! Skulls and crossbones, flying pigs, ninjas, unicorns…..be creative!
- cocoa nibs
- cocoa butter
- powdered milk (optional: only to make milk chocolate, skip this ingredient if you are making dark chocolate)
Where to get the ingredients?
Your local health food or Whole Foods-esque type store will carry these items. Or online. I purchased my cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, and a silicone mold on Amazon.com Sugar and dry milk came from the grocery store. One really great, not too expensive brand is Navitas. I like them because they are organic, no additives, and not too expensive. They have cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, and even sell raw cocoa beans. Other brands that sell nibs include Scharfenberger, Dagoba, Valrhona to name a few.
The spices and flavor choices are endless. Below are just a few. Feel free to experiment on amounts and mixtures. This is YOUR chocolate, do as your taste buds wish.
Examples of possible spice and flavors:
- any and all nuts
- curry powder
- coconut flakes
- dried fruit – berries work great, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, goji berries
- chili powder
- pumpkin pie spice
- sea salt
- teas – Earl Grey works great
This list can go on forever, as you can literally put so many added flavors and spice combinations. Be creative. This is yours to play with.