This recipe is excellent for coating in chocolate.
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon water
2 cups nuts
Cover a large plate or cookie sheet with parchment paper, waxed paper, or greased foil. If you need a hard glaze, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Mix all ingredients except the nuts in a heavy pan on medium-high heat and stir occasionally for 3 to 4 minutes, until the sugar dissolves completely and turns golden. Add the nuts and reduce the heat to medium-low, and keep stirring the mixture for another two minutes, until it turns golden-brown.
If you want the harder glaze, put the pan in your preheated oven. Stir after five minutes and put back in for another five to ten minutes, keeping a close eye on them to catch the bright, shiny glaze. They burn easily if left too long.
Spread the candied nuts on the baking sheet to cool for ten minutes or so before breaking them into chunks. These chunks can now be used in chocolate recipes. Yields enough candied nuts for 2 batches of Fruit and Nut Chocolate Bars (page 163).
When the basic recipe is warm enough, it can be used for dipping and coating other foods.
Bite-sized fruits and other foodstuffs can be placed on a tray of waxed paper and then drizzled with chocolate. Alternately, add a cup’s worth to the basic recipe and ladle out the resulting mixture either into molds or onto waxed paper. Most larger fruits will do best when sliced. Bananas, bread, and carrots [dry to touch] can be dipped whole or when sliced/cubed, and then placed on a tray for refrigeration.
The Fruit and Nut Chocolate Bar recipe (page 163) is also a great place to look for ingredients that can be dipped and drizzled upon. You can also use flavored, spiced, or infused chocolates for combinations like mint-blueberry or ginger-orange-cinnamon.
Chili peppers (seeded)
Cherries. If you pit the cherry, you lose the stem, if you don’t pit the cherry, it is best to warn people
Some bugs (not vegan)
That which grows in your garden
Chocolate chip cookie dough balls
Flax seeds (use sparingly)
Peanut butter filled pretzels. Buy these pre-made, squish peanut butter into pretzels, or use the filling from the peanut butter cup recipe.
1/3 cup cocoa powder (heaping)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/3-1/2 cup trail mix
Melt coconut oil using a double boiler or solar oven. If you’re careful not to overheat the oil, you can also melt it directly on the stove or in the microwave.
Combine the cocoa powder and the powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. If your coconut oil isn’t already a liquid, take care of that now. Stir in the coconut oil. Add trail mix. Pour the mixture into a mold. This will make a standard chunky chocolate bar.
To make fruit & nut chocolate clusters, increase the amount to a cup of trail mix and dip out spoonfuls onto wax paper. It will hold together better if you allow it to cool slightly before spooning it out.
Here are some alternative ingredients to go in or on your chunky chocolate bars. Mix and match as appropriate:
You can use all sorts of things as chocolate molds. Here are a few of our favorites:
Thin-walled plastic containers (greased)
Silicone molds are great for making chocolate. They don’t require greasing, they can make simple or detailed chocolates, and it’s easy to pop out the chocolates after they have hardened. The best silicone mold that we have found to date is the meatloaf mold. We pour a shallow layer of chocolate in the bottom. This yields a large rectangular bar of chocolate. We also enjoy the widely-available sililcone trays with heart-shaped indentations, which make quintessential chocolate treats.
Mini-cupcake cups are great for party chocolates. There are two ways to use them. You can pour chocolate directly into the cups, or pre-make individual chocolates and then move them to the cups. In a pinch, you can also use any thin-walled plastic container as a mold. Grease lightly using vegetable oil that is liquid at room temperature.
Another alternative is to use parchment paper or waxed paper. These are great for making a chocolate back. To contain the chocolate, you can set the paper on a large plate or put it in a baking tray.
Our rule of thumb is that there should be equal amounts of cocoa powder and coconut oil. We use the next-smallest measuring cup for the sweetener. We prefer to make chocolate the easy way: substitute coconut oil for cocoa butter. It’s technically “compound chocolate,” since it contains a fat other than cocoa butter, but it’s delicious and very easy to make.
1/3 cup cocoa powder (heaping)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup powdered sugar or 3 tablespoons agave syrup
Combine the cocoa powder and the powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in the coconut oil. When the mixture is smooth, pour the mixture into a mold.
Leave it in the freezer for 10-20 minutes; larger bars will take longer to cool. Store this chocolate in a cool place, ideally the fridge or freezer, until ready to eat. If you need to transport it–especially if the weather is warm–leave it in the freezer for a while and take it out immediately before you leave.
After you have tried the basic recipe, we encourage experimentation! The consistency of your chocolate mix can vary wildly. There are recipes out there for chocolate that contain very small quantities of sweetener, and those that contain next to no cocoa powder. As long as you come up with something that tastes good to you, go ahead and throw it in the mold. It will usually come out chocolate and merriment.
If you want to try a different blend of flavors, pair or replace the cocoa with other bitter and savory powders. Here are a few suggestions.
COFFEE BAR: Instant coffee will make a coffee bar. You may find fairtrade instant coffee in a few grocery stores, or look online. Decaf is also an option, or try powdered coffee replacements such as the Polish roasted grain beverage “Inka.”
CAROB BAR Carob powder gives a flavor very similar to chocolate but slightly sweeter.
SOUR CANDY Replace the cocoa powder with a brightly-colored sports drink powder.
Here are the responsible chocolates we’ve latched onto over the years:
Dandelion: I’ve only actually had one of these, but it was given to me by a friend (who lists me in IM as dandelion, which pleases me). Plus they’re bean-to-bar, so that’s something.
Divine: The company is partially owned by a cacao growers’ collective in Ghana. The collective holds two seats on the board of directors and, as shareholders, collective members receive dividends from Divine’s profits.
Diego’s chocolate: A lovely and uniquely made cigar-shaped chocolate that’s “Mayan-grown, Mayan-made from tree to chocolate in Guatemala”. We mention these folks in our book.
El Castillo del Cacao – I’ve bee living in León, Nicaragua for a couple weeks now, and this locally-produced organic chocolate seems to be THE local option.
Heavenly Organics: Not vegan! But so good, and they say they’re bee-friendly. They buy from Indian worker-owned cooperatives they helped make. Unsweetened dark chocolate with a honey + simple flavoring center. Great for folks like me who never wanted their peas touching their mashed potatoes (and shoved their chicken in the upholstery when I thought nobody was looking) at the dinner table growing up. Simple, yet interesting.
Madecasse: Produced in Madagascar! I liked their pink pepper & citrus one. They recently seem to have grown?
Taza: Direct trade, based in the east coast. Theirs is the round chocolate, usually kind of gritty like Mexican chocolate. So great.
Theo: Based in Seattle, they’re into making fair trade, organic chocolate accessible. I enjoy their mission statement, and I stock up on these to use as minor presents to give to friends & strangers as thank yous.
Tony’s Chocolonely: They’re also into making fair trade chocolate accessible, but they’re so single-minded about slave-free chocolate that they’re not focused on the organic aspect, and I can live with their logic. (They’re also aware of their environmental impact with dairy, which is a start.) I do like how they’re reframing and mainstreamifying the fair trade concept. Another chocolate that’s great for gift-giving.