Home-Made Chunky Dark Chocolate Butter


ChocolateButterDesert

UPC’s Crunchy Dark Chocolate Butter

I love indulging. Some of my favorite indulgences, as we’ve covered here in this blog, are life’s simple pleasures. This is obviously not a complete list, but certainly these items will make the top of my list: chocolate, bacon, chocolate bacon, smoked salmon, good wine, good tequila, good rum, sleeping soundly and waking up refreshed, and staying up all night just to watch the sun rise. As far as I’m concerned, the above list of indulgences should be on EVERYONE’S list! Ok, fine, I’ll give that some people just don’t like salmon. My wife doesn’t like salmon, and smoked salmon is even worse to her. While this is intriguing to me, particularly as a pleasantly munch down on some spicy smoked salmon, and she makes faces at me, I don’t particularly mind. That just means I get to keep it to myself! Fortunately, we share interest enough of our other indulgences that this has never been an issue. So, today’s recipe, hopefully, will become a regular indulgence for you all as it has become for me.

I’ve been working on this recipe for months now, and while you’ll see that it is quite simple, putting the pieces together has been a real challenge! Chocolate is amazing, in all it’s forms. It can be a real challenge to work with, though, because getting your recipe just a little bit wrong can result in it being quite bitter. While I love chocolate, and even really really dark chocolate (I eat the good baking chocolate bars straight – but only the good ones), I don’t love bitter. There are definitely some recipes that bring out the bitter in chocolate more than others. Not this one though. This recipe produces the kind of indulgent decadence that I can really look forward to!

UPC’s Crunchy Dark Chocolate Butter; What you’ll need:

  • ChocolateButterDesert_CocoaNibsAndChocolatePowder1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Carob Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Cocoa Nibs
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Storage Jar (a nut-butter jar?)

Serves: Umm… Only 1!!! 🙂
Prep time: 10 minutes.

1. Mix the cocoa powder, carob powder, and cocoa nibs thoroughly.

2. Pour the mix into the jar, then add the coconut butter and the coconut oil on top, in that order.

ChocolateButterDesert_PreMixed

As the coconut oil melts, it will loosen up the coconut butter for stirring.

3. Close the jar and place it somewhere warm so that the coconut oil can melt, and the coconut butter will soften.
Note: If you can’t think of a good warm place to put it; you can easily just throw it in the oven on the lowest heat setting for 5-10 minutes.

4. Let it sit until the coconut oil has completely melted, then begin stirring.

ChocolateButterDesert_Mixing

Start to stir after the coconut oil has fully melted.

Serving:

Since it’s warmer now, it’s the optimal time to serve it over your favorite fruit! This will be amazing over nearly any fruit, but particularly strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, and pineapple.
If you’d prefer to eat it in a more solid state, just let it sit at room temperature for a while, then dig in! It will be thick, like coconut oil or macadamia nut butter, and perfect for eating with a spoon!

ChocolateButterDesert_Spread

Freshly made, still warm Crunchy Chocolate Butter over Starfruit!

Questions:

  • Do you like your indulgences?
  • What are your 3 favorite indulgences?
  • If you could take one of your non-food indulgences, and compare it to a food, which food would it be most comparable to?
  • Are there any indulgences that you used to enjoy but don’t anymore?
  • Why don’t you enjoy them anymore?
  • Do you miss them? Or have you replaced them?

Chocolate Apricot Paleo Energy Bar


Choc_Power_Bar

This is an excellent recipe, which has been sitting in my queue to share with you all for a long time! I made these some time ago and wrote it up as a guest post on http://www.carlmason-liebenberg.com, and the original post is here if you’d like to see it. Actually, once you’ve had a chance to read through this post, I recommend loading up the previous version. It’s a lot more wordy, and I was using a completely different recipe writing style back then (amateur…), so it may be quite interesting to take a peak at what my writing looked like in the early days of UPC. Maybe you’ll decide you liked it better, and ask me to post like that again from time to time… who knows!

Choc_Power_Bar-Ingredients

Chocolate Paleo Energy Bar; What you’ll need:

  • 1 & ½ cups pitted dates, finely diced
  • 1 cup dried apricots, finely diced
  • ½ cup sliced raw unsalted almonds, sliced (soaked, if possible)
  • ½ cup raw unsalted pecans, sliced (soaked, if possible)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Prep time: About 1 hour (15 minutes if you use a food processor)
Choc_Power_Bar-Pre-MixedServes: 6-10

1. Dump all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and shake it around a bit to start combining them.
Note: When I have time, I buy the almonds and pecans whole so that I can soak them for a day. To save time (like I did in the above picture), you can use the pre-sliced versions.

Choc_Power_Bar-Mixed2. Using your bare hands (please wash first…) thoroughly mix the ingredients, kneading it in the mixing bowl like you would knead bread.
This is challenging because you’re trying to mix the dried fruit with powdered chocolate and other dry ingredients. This tends to be quite gooey, and not easy to mix.

3. Continue kneading it until you can roll it up in to a mostly uniform-looking ball, leaving no ingredients behind in the mixing bowl.

4. On an oiled cutting board, carefully press that chocolate ball out to a square-shape approximately 1 & ½ inches thick (about 4 centimeters thick), and as wide and tall as it needs to be to get that thickness.
Mine was about 7 inches square (about 18 centimeters square).

Choc_Power_Bar-Pre-Cut

5. Cut 1-inch (2-3 centimeters) thick bars, no more than 4 inches long (10 centimeters).

Serving:

This will definitely help you replenish lost salt after a workout (or during) – and it will make you thirsty. So when you eat this, make sure you have some water handy!

Choc_Power_Bar

Desert Bar Modifications:

Use this instead of the same ingredients above:

  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (instead of 1/3 cup)
    Note: More cocoa powder will give this more cocoa flavor – I like my cocoa dark and rich, so I use the full 1/3 cup. If you prefer more of the other flavors and ingredients; use the reduced amount suggested here.
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt (just enough)

Add this:

  • Heat ½ cup coconut cream (add honey as desired) for 5 minutes on medium-low
  • Pour heated coconut cream over bars
  • Let bars cool in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving

If you’re going to make this as a desert bar, please follow this recipe ahead of time and try it yourself. Know what you’re making, and be sure that this is the right recipe for your audience. It is for any party that I’m invited to, that’s for sure!

And finally, enjoy!

Coconut Crusted Chocolate Covered Lychee


CoconutChocolateLychee

UPC’s Coconut Chocolate Lychee

I was given this idea by Hari Qhuang, of Hari’s Got Tales!” in a comment he posted on my blog not too long ago. I was so excited by the idea that I asked him how it was done. He responded that he didn’t really know, and gave me “creative license” to go and try my own version of it. Well, this is what happens when you give UPC some Creative License! Let that be a lesson to all you who are considering asking me to come up with a way to make this or that!

CoconutChocolateLychee-Background

CoconutChocolateLychee-LycheesCoconut Chocolate Lychee; What you’ll need:

  • 10-15 Lychee Fruits, peeled, halved and pitted (bonus points if you can get the pit out without cutting the Lychee in half!)
  • 4 oz Dark Chocolate (Only the best! I used Organic Nectars 70% Dark)
  • 1 cup Shredded Coconut (Organic please!)

Serves: Umm… 1? 2? 5? It depends on whether you let other people taste it before you do!
Cook and Prep Time: 120 minutes, at least.

1. Peel, half, and pit the Lychees. Put these on a plate to dry for an hour.
Note: If you have the patience: put them in a dehydrator for the hour, or in the oven at 150 or so for the hour. If you can’t do that, it’s ok. I just let them sit, and the recipe works fine if they can air-dry for an hour.

2. Put a thick bed of shredded coconut on a large plate.

3. Heat up the chocolate bar in a pot and let it cool for 5-10 minutes until the chocolate is thick, like molasses.

CoconutChocolateLychee-ChocolateAndCoconutChocolate4. Drop the now-dried (or air-dried) lychee halves in the chocolate and roll the chocolate around to cover them with a thick coat of chocolate.

5. Rest the lychee halves on the shredded coconut carefully.
Note: I used chopsticks to pull the chocolate-covered lychee halves out of the chocolate; tongs likely will work well too.

6. Cover the chocolate covered lychee halves with a copious amount of shredded coconut, pushing the coconut up around the outside of the lychee. You should have little mounds of shredded coconut on your plate, with the chocolate covered lychee  in the middle.

7. Cover the plate (lightly!) with tin-foil or wax paper, and put it in the fridge to let the coconut-chocolate-lychees cool and harden.

8. After about an hour, take them out and “break up” the shredded coconut mounds, and brush off the extra coconut from the chocolate covered lychee halves. There will be quite a bit of leftover shredded coconut (for you to munch on, of course!).

9. (Optional) Use the leftover chocolate as a “garnish” on the chocolate covered lychee halves.

Now serve, and enjoy!!

CoconutChocolateLychee-FinishingTouches

Dessert Recipe: Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding


ChocolateRaspberryChiaPudding

UPC’s Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding

It’s been a while since I did a dessert recipe for you. You’ll have to forgive me to for not putting together very many desserts; I think this may only be the third one I’ve posted. The truth is: I really don’t eat a lot of desserts. 95% of the time, if I’m looking for something to round out my relaxation after a meal, I’ll turn to chocolate or dried mango. Obviously those count as a dessert, but there’s just not much to blog about with those, so I usually focus more on my meals. And since I don’t eat desserts often, I don’t have very much material to share! But that doesn’t mean that the few times I am inspired to whip up something special I won’t take pictures of it and let you all know how to make it work, now does it? So today’s recipe: Chocolate raspberry chia pudding!

ChocolateRaspberryChiaPudding-Stirring

UPC’s Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding; What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 pint Organic Raspberries (preferably fresh; but frozen will work)
  • 1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 4 tablespoons Organic Chia Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Raw Honey
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Water

1. Put the raspberries in a large mixing bowl and mash them thoroughly with a potato masher.

2. Add the chia, coconut water, and honey to the bowl, and continue to mix and mash thoroughly.

3. Finally add the cocoa powder, and stir slowly and thoroughly with a spoon for at least 60 seconds, but up to 2 minutes if you can stand it.

4. Let the mush stand on the counter for 20 minutes, stirring thoroughly every 5 minutes.

5. Transfer the mush to a jar of appropriate size, and put it in the refrigerator for a day. For best results, shake the jar vigorously a few times throughout the day.
Serve and enjoy!

ChocolateRaspberryChiaPudding-Jar

Possible variations:
This will be quite good if you eat it the same day; but far better after a day of sitting. So if you need to make it before dinner to serve after dinner, it will still be just fine!
If you’re interested, you can put a light coating of coconut oil in a cup, pour some of the pudding in, and freeze it for a frozen dessert or an after-workout treat! The coconut oil will make it really easy to pull out, and won’t make it any less delicious.

Questions:

  • What kinds of desserts do you normally eat?
  • Do you make any of your own desserts? Is there a special recipe?
  • How many of your desserts are “multi-purpose” desserts?
  • Would you like to see more UPC desserts?
  • Do you want more pudding? More like the Coconut Delight that I made months ago? Or maybe like the Chocolate Energy Bar that I made as a guest post?

Weekend Food Commentary


Chocolate Bars

Chocolate_Bars-CVS_Display

Ever walk in to a CVS or Walgreens with a serious chocolate craving? Ever stop in your tracks when you see that nearly half the store is stocked with candy items, designed and intended to encourage just exactly that craving? Well, I certainly have! Wandering through isle after isle, sometimes even store after store, looking for some chocolate without soy in it can be an incredibly daunting task! Now, I can’t exactly recommend giving up, because high quality, unadulterated dark chocolate is far too good a prize to walk away empty handed – or worse: with some non-Paleo chocolate…

I took far too many photos of displays of CVS, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods to be able to display them here in one post. But there is some good stuff, so I uploaded them to Picasa so that you can take a peak at what I had to sift through (and you will too) in order to find a decent bar of chocolate!

Take a look here for more photos

The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate:

Dark Chocolate contains lots of healthy fats. This is one of the biggest reasons that chocolate is so good for satisfying cravings, because fat is satisfying! Well, cocoa is loaded with high quality fats, and dark chocolate, with less additives in it, contain a good amount of those same fats, making it an extraordinarily satisfying snack. And unlike some freshly cooked bone-in short ribs, chocolate is a lot easier to carry!

Mark Sisson has a lot more to say about the benefits of Dark Chocolate, and I urge you to head over to this post of his and take a good look at it. It’s loaded with facts about the benefits of chocolate, and apparently, chocolate is loaded with benefits!

But the most important point to this article is that I get chocolate cravings, and I really want to pass on to you all the particular chocolate bars that I’ve found to help me with that!

Chocolate_Bars-CVS_Display2So, Which Chocolate Bars Are Paleo?

It’s unfortunate, but in the giant volume of space solely dedicated to sugar products, I was able to find only one single bar of chocolate which is Paleo – no soy, no wheat, no extra additives, just a simple dark chocolate bar. And we’re talking about a space larger than my own apartment, dedicated to encouraging people to have cravings! Of course, logically manufacturers and stores wouldn’t want those cravings satisfied; so they fill that space with things that will entice further craving.

But if you dig deep enough, there are some hidden gems! The one, and only normally available anywhere bar of chocolate which is soy free is the 85% Lindt Chocolate Bar. This is so important to my cravings that I am going to dedicate a full-size mid-post picture to it.

Chocolate_Bars-Lindt_85-Paleo2

Chocolate_Bars-Lindt_85-Paleo_IngredientsThat bar is Paleo. Take a quick look at the ingredients listed to the right here. Not only is it Paleo, the ingredients are simple, easy to pronounce, and easy to remember. This is a quality chocolate bar.

But don’t be fooled in to thinking that every Lindt is Paleo. Nor, even that every Lindt “Dark” is Paleo. In fact, as I discovered (and shared in the link at the top of this post) not even every 85% chocolate is soy free! I uncovered a great looking Godiva 85% dark with soy in it. Doesn’t look so great now!

Ok, so Lindt 85% is Paleo. Is anything else?

Yes! But not in this CVS. In addition to Lindt 85%, some stores sell Green & Black’s 85%, which also has no soy in it, and is also delicious dark chocolate!

If you have access to some specialty grocers or food stores, like Trader Joe’s Market or Whole Foods Market, there are a few available bars of good Paleo chocolate there too. Not as many as I would like, and they’re even more difficult to find! But they’re there. Below I have the two bars I look out for at either Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Chocolate_Bars-TJs_DarkChocolate_70-PaleoTrader Joe’s “dark chocolate” brand of organic dark chocolate. There are three varieties of this particular brand, and all three are soy free! There is a pink wrapper, called a “Truffle” chocolate bar. This blue wrapper with raisins and pecans is my personal favorite of the three. And then there is a purple wrapper called “Dark”, and it’s a 70% chocolate bar. All three of these are delicious and nutritious!

Chocolate_Bars-WFs_Theo_70-PaleoWhole Foods Market carries a brand called “Theo” which has several varieties of chocolate on the Whole Foods shelves. I like this brand a lot because I haven’t found a bar from them with soy in it yet! That doesn’t mean there isn’t one, so always be sure to check the labels; but so far so good!

The two that I most often buy are their Sea Salt Dark, shown in this picture, and their Spicy Chile Dark. Take a quick look at their online catalog for an idea of which bars you’ll be looking for. They have a great selection. My personal favorite is the Spicy Chile, I love the extra bite!

Not to be overlooked: a Paleo-friendly restaurant nearby?

Chocolate_Bars-Hu-Paleo

On 14th street, New York City, there is a restaurant called “Hu Kitchen” which serves almost entirely Paleo foods. There are a few dishes with wild rice and quinoa, so they’re easy to avoid. I have mentioned them before (Going Out For Dinner Tonight, and 10 Reasons I love Paleo Holidays), but they are definitely appropriate to this conversation! If there is a Paleo restaurant nearby, scour their shelves for Chocolate! Hu Kitchen has 2 different Paleo Chocolate Bars, and they are amazing! Take a look at this picture on the right. Doesn’t it speak volumes that they’re so confident of their product that they put the ingredients on the front of the package? No need to hide that on the back! Cocoa, coconut sugar, almonds and figs. All organic. And that’s it.

So there you have it – my 5 go-to Chocolate bars. Lindt 85%, Green&Black’s 85%, Trader Joe’s “dark chocolate”, Theo, and the Hu Kitchen chocolate. I round out that list with anything I happen to stumble across, but so far non-soy chocolate bars are rare enough that it doesn’t happen often, and they aren’t always stocked. But the above list definitely keeps me going!

Let me know which chocolate bars you’ve found that are great, Paleo dark chocolate!