Make Your Own Dark Chocolate From Scratch!

recipe

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"I need to bring something to tape your sounds when you exercise" my trainer Nina told me one day. It's true Dear Reader, you see that when I exercise I have this unfortunate affliction where how shall I put it delicately...I make sex noises.

Yes, I know. And yes it's completely embarrassing. Even worse is that I absolutely cannot help it. I am Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams all in one.

I first realised that I did this when we were training hard and Nina asked me to correct my lunge position. Suddenly this deep, dark sound engulfed my ears. My brow furrowed and I looked around. Were people going for it in Centennial Park right next to all the little kids that were playing? I realised that the offending noise was actually emanating from me and from the pit of my diaphragm. It was guttural, it was loud and it was involuntary. I repeated the lunge and there it was again. That noise. I covered my mouth, my eyes alarmed. All I could think about were the kids and their parents nearby to us and polluting innocent children's auditory streams with my weird noises. Meanwhile Nina was doubled over laughing.

Yes, I make sex noises when I exercise. I'm a sex noise exercising addict. Although that might be taking it too far...

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I know people that make noises when they eat too. Nigella is actually a good example-she emits silky murmurs and light moans when she eats something that she adores. Chocolate is usually a good culprit to induce these noises, especially a lovely silky dark smooth bar that melts on the tongue (sorry I had better just fan myself here!). Speaking of Nina, she's the one that actually got me onto making my own dark chocolate from scratch. She started making her own chocolate so she could know exactly what was in it. Most chocolate brands except for Michel Cluizel and Amedei use soy lecithin and she avoids soy wherever possible and she prefers it dark and bitter, slightly sweetened with honey.

I presumed that you needed a conching machine and all sorts of fancy equipment to make chocolate from scratch but all you really need is a bowl that fits over a saucepan and a baking tray. The only downsides are that it is more expensive than buying chocolate-cocoa butter is about $5-$6 per 100 grams or 3.5 ounces and that's why lesser chocolate brands use vegetable fats instead of expensive cocoa butter. Cocoa powder and sugar are the other two ingredients and are less expensive.

And what does the home made chocolate taste like? It's very buttery and silky and melts in the mouth.  To be honest I wasn't sold on the idea of home made chocolate until she gave me a piece of her chocolate. It was so smooth and with a hint of sweetness and for the dark chocolate lover, it's heaven. It's as sweet as you like-Nina uses one tablespoon of honey whereas I use two tablespoons of icing (powdered sugar). The sugar allows it to keep at room temperature whereas using honey adds flavour but doesn't let it set hard and it needs to stay in the fridge. I made a batch and gave some to Mr NQN who poo poohed the first piece (he claimed it was too buttery but then again he hates bone marrow and butter) but then rapidly reached for the next piece and then consumed the whole lot leaving me one tiny piece which I quickly slid on my tongue.

And then I may or may not have made those pesky sex noises!

So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever make noises when you eat? And what food makes you moan with pleasure?

dymocks staff pick

And before I go, I just wanted to share something very exciting that happened recently. It's always been my dream to be a staff pick at a bookshop. I figure that book store staff see tens of thousands of books every year and the chances of them picking up and finding my book and then taking the time to read it and then like it are so, so slim. But a lovely staff member from Dymocks' Sydney city store sent me this picture and I couldn't believe it but my new book is a staff pick!! Suddenly, all of the emotions from the last couple of weeks since the book's release came out and I was crying happy tears!

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Make Your Own Dark Chocolate From Scratch!

Makes approximately 200 grams of chocolate

  • 100g/3.5ozs. cocoa butter (also called cacao butter)

  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 1-2 tablespoons icing or powdered sugar

  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped or 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Buyer's tip: you can buy cacao or cocoa butter at most health food stores. I bought it at Alfalfa House in Enmore.

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Step 1 - Line a small tin about 15x15cms with baking parchment. In a double boiler, that is a bowl fitted over a pan of gently simmering water, melt the cocoa butter. I find it easiest if they're all in similar sizes pieces and make sure to heat it on very gently simmering water-cocoa butter melts very quickly and if the heat is too high (I simmered the water on a low setting 3 out of 10), the chocolate blooms (get a pale white coat).

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Step 2 - In the meantime, sift the cocoa powder and icing sugar in a separate bowl. When the cocoa butter has melted, carefully remove from the saucepan with oven mitts and stir in the cocoa powder and sugar mixture until smooth. Add the almonds and or chia seeds if you are using them and spread out the chocolate into the prepared pan. Allow to set, I find it sets better in the fridge and once set, you can snap it into pieces or leave it whole and keep it at room temperature.

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