Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Carob Chocolate Recipe and Follow-Through

A few people asked for more details on how I made the carob chocolate that was a main ingredient in the wonderful mint-carob chocolate truffles I just posted about, and I realized that I hadn't really posted a very specific recipe before. I'm so willing to please...
...I actually made up a batch today just to be sure that I would share the best possible recipe. There have been times when I've brainstormed a lot about how to make the best carob-based or "white" chocolate with no cacao powder, but I've been off that tack lately. Nice to resurrect it again: I'm grateful for the encouragement!

Today's post was originally going to be about the party for our wedding anniversary yesterday, but that party got postponed because of the spectacular snowstorm (or series of snowstorms) we're in the midst of. Yesterday morning, all our windows were snowed up, like being in a cave, and I had to dig (not shovel) my way to the outhouse!
 So, a good time to take a work break and make some carob chocolate. I really admire the concept of follow-through.

What I ended up making was a cacao butter-carob chocolate with a little mesquite, which gives it a milk chocolate-like flair. For the earlier batch (with which I made the truffles), I'd more or less followed Sweet Gratitude's "chocolate" recipe but substituting carob and mesquite for the cacao powder, so there was some maple syrup and some xylitol (my sub for their rapadura) in the mix.

This time, I got to thinking: you know, carob and mesquite are both really sweet! They don't need much sweetener. I remember Bitt, chocolatier extraordinaire, saying that she didn't love stevia in chocolate, but it occurred to me that a little stevia, with its hint of bitterness, would be just the right sweetening note in here.

The other challenge was emulsification, especially since carob and mesquite are much lower in fat than cacao powder. A little sunflower lecithin was just right for this.

I strongly recommend you sift in the carob. It's a little extra work, but it makes such a difference to the texture. You can mix it all together by hand, but if you have an immersion blender, whizzing it a few times right at the end will help with the final consistency. My kitchen is so cold that the whole thing firmed up right when I was at this stage, so I had to wait a few hours until the heat came on again, and then had it melt in front of the heater to play with some more.
OK already, what's the recipe? Get to the point, girl!
Here 'tis:
Carob Chocolate--vegan, gluten free, (mostly) raw (depending on your carob), low sugar, soy free
1 cup melted cacao butter
1/4 teaspoon stevia
1/8 teaspoon good salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder (really best to use dry vanilla here as opposed to liquid extract)
1 teaspoon sunflower lecithin
3-4 drops Medicine Flower dark chocolate flavor extract (optional)
1 3/4 cups carob powder
1/4 cup mesquite powder

Stir the stevia, salt, vanilla, chocolate flavor extract (if using) and lecithin into the melted cacao butter and mix well.
Gradually sift in the carob and mesquite, a little at a time, stirring regularly.
When you've added all the carob and mesquite, pulse with an immersion blender to combine fully (I guess you could also do this in a food processor).

That's it! I was intending this as a very basic recipe, to which various things could be added, and I'm back to brainstorming all kinds of possibilities for add-ins that would make it more chocolatey or just 'better.' But I also wanted to see how it would stand alone with nothing added.

So, when I got it melted again, I poured a little of it into one of my bar molds and set it in the fridge.
 It popped right out! Beautiful sheen and, as you can see from the picture at the top of the post, it breaks cleanly and holds its texture well.
I could see using this as a coating for truffles... adding mint extract and nut milk to make truffles like last time... mixing in goji berries and figs for a lovely chewy crunch... and all kinds of other uses. Luckily, there's lots more left to play with. I'm curious to see whether it needs tempering like regular chocolate--time will tell.

What would you use it for?

Speaking of follow-through, a few posts ago I had "wet ingredients" from the zucchini ginger cake mixed with carrots and chia seeds in the dehydrator. Here's how they turned out:
Thin, crispy, crunchier than anything with chia normally gets in the dehydrator, sweet but not too sweet, carrot-tasting. Delicious.
 Back to work I go--thanks for reading, and I really hope you enjoy both this and the mint truffles that depend on it.