I didn’t clue in on the second or third or fourth readings why my son was so fascinated with Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Apart from the fact that it’s a timeless, fabulous read that’s entertaining for both children and adults. We were also loving the edition illustrated by Quentin Blake, whose whimsical drawings seem to perfectly complement Dahl’s outlandish tale.
But there was another reason, and that’s because my boy really wanted to make chocolate. I was ever so slow to catch on to this. When he first talked about being a chocolate maker and a chocolate inventor, I said sure, and got on with whatever critical task I was doing.
When he kept talking about making chocolate, I clued in that he actually wanted to try and I told him one of two things: a) I didn’t know how or b) you can’t make chocolate. I’d like to think I made the former claim, but I’m pretty sure I said the dumber latter thing.
At last, when the poor child was blue in the face with asking, I had a glittering eureka moment. Why don’t I just look into it, I thought? And promptly discovered that it is not only possible to make chocolate at home, but not difficult at all (unless you are starting truly from scratch with cocoa beans, which we weren’t). Snapping out of my no-can-do trance, I remembered that I love making things in the kitchen at home with my boys and at last we got to work.
We did some research, read a bit, watched a few youtube videos. There are lots of different recipes out there, but I wanted to make one with cocoa butter, because this seemed the most delicious and pure way.
The recipe I used (and I cannot for the life of me find the source, sorry) contained exactly four ingredients.
250 grams of cocoa butter (edible, some kinds are intended for body care)
8 Tbs of powdered milk
12 Tbs of cocoa
250 grams of icing sugar
(pinch of salt, optional)
The most difficult part of making the chocolate was getting some really good ingredients, and even that was just a run to the natural food store. I splurged on raw organic cocoa butter and got some good cocoa powder, because with a recipe with four ingredients, the quality of these would seem to really matter.
We melted the cocoa butter in a makeshift double boiler, and blended it with the mixed dry ingredients. And, um, that’s it.
Then we poured our chocolate mixture into a variety of silicone molds (maybe some chocolate bar molds should go on my son’s gift wishlist? If you don’t have these, you could line a loaf pan or baking tray with a lip with parchment paper and break the chocolate into bark. Spooning out the liquid chocolate was messy so we poured it first into a little milk jug which made pouring into the molds much easier.
We chilled them, popped them out of the molds and wrapped them in mason jars as we had a bunch of May birthdays to celebrate. I read somewhere that handmade chocolates melt more easily than storebought, so we kept the presents refrigerated until time to give them.
The outcome? It’s a lovely chocolate. Not a true dark chocolate, but more dark than milk chocolate, partly because of the milk powder but especially because it was just sweet enough and no more. It was strikingly similar to some very nice, very expensive handmade chocolate I sampled at a high end farmer’s market. The texture of ours was a little grainy, which I can only attribute to the milk powder as the other dry ingredients are so fine. There are lots of other recipes out there, and since it’s so easy and pleasurable and great for gift-giving, I can’t see why we won’t be doing this more and more.
It should come as no surprise that I was enamoured with the process entire. With reading to my son a wonderful story and having it make a deep enough impression on both his imagination and sense of possibility that he’s spurred to try new things. And that his energy moves me to try new things. That I have the opportunity to stretch a little more a mind that I thought was already open to adventures in the kitchen with my kids. That we get to create and taste and share really decadent and quite healthful treats. I still can’t explain the blinders that delayed this handmade foray, but thank goodness for the persistent child who helped knock them away; it’s reason enough for me to love these chocolates completely.