Egg-cellent homemade chocolate recipes

Arabella Forge
Arabella Forge's home-made chocolate Easter eggs are made with a base of cocoa butter, coconut oil or a mixture of both.
Arabella Forge's home-made chocolate Easter eggs are made with a base of cocoa butter, coconut oil or a mixture of both. Photo: Eddie Jim

Home-made chocolate is easy to create with only a handful of ingredients.  Best of all, you can skip the additives, preservatives and unhealthy fats used in some mass-produced chocolate eggs to prolong shelf life.

Most chocolate is made with heat-treated, or alkalized cocoa powder, which strips the fresh cacao bean of much of its antioxidant properties. In addition, many companies save costs by replacing at least some of the cocoa butter with hydrogenated vegetable oils (such as soybean canola, cottonseed and palm kernel oil). These oils are cheaper and easier to work than cocoa butter but most contain unhealthy trans fats. Cheap, compound chocolate contains no cocoa butter at all - just vegetable oils - whereas premium couverture chocolate contains a minimum of 32 per cent cocoa butter.

How to make chocolate eggs

Chocolate can be made at home using a handful of key ingredients, including cocoa butter and raw cacao powder.
Chocolate can be made at home using a handful of key ingredients, including cocoa butter and raw cacao powder. Photo: Eddie Jim

1. Choose a base
Chocolate can be made with cocoa butter, coconut oil - or a combination of both.

Coconut oil results in a creamier texture and a slightly sweeter flavour. However, non-hydrogenated coconut oil has relatively low melting temperature (24C) and the chocolate made from it will more resemble a fudge in warm temperatures and will easily melt in your hands. It is best kept refrigerated until eating.

Cocoa butter makes a more solid chocolate that is easier to work with in warmer temperatures, with a melting point of 31-36C. While its texture is not as creamy as coconut oil, it still has a deliciously luxurious mouth feel but results in a sharper-tasting final product.

Home-made chocolate is best kept in the fridge until just before eating.
Home-made chocolate is best kept in the fridge until just before eating. Photo: Eddie Jim

Coconut oil is considerably cheaper; selling at less than half the price of cocoa butter at most health food shops. While cocoa butter is considered to be the best all-round chocolate base, it will set you back roughly $30 for a 500g packet.

2. Source good cacao

Look for cacao that is natural (untreated) or raw cacao powder to make your chocolate as these are better for you than the heat-treated or alkalized products (used to make Dutch cocoa or drinking chocolate).

Arabella Forge's home-made chocolate breakdown.
Arabella Forge's home-made chocolate breakdown. 

3. Sweeteners

Experiment with natural sweeteners such as raw honey, rice malt syrup or stevia. Sugar can also be used. Stevia is the only non-calorie sweetener that does not affect blood sugar levels. The downside is that because it is an herb it imparts a slightly bitter aftertaste. When using stevia in cooking it's best to combine it with another sweetener (such as honey or rice malt syrup) to combat the aftertaste. Always use a little at a time and taste it as you go.

While many other natural sweeteners are available, honey, rice malt syrup and stevia worked best in the below recipes.

4. Flavour it (optional)

Chocolate has a long and exotic history. Try mixing it with cinnamon, almonds and vanilla to make Mexican chocolate, or adding a nut butter base for a Swiss-style Gianduja chocolate.

5. Add a filling (optional)

You can add a smooth, creamy filling to any chocolate recipe made in an egg-shaped mould. You will need to make the outer shell with a solid cocoa butter base (as chocolate made with coconut oil will melt too easily). Fillings can include anything soft such as honey or nut butter; the chocolate nut butter fudge recipe (below) also works well.

RECIPES

Do-it-yourself dark chocolate eggs (solid)

This recipe has a smooth, creamy flavour; similar to a very dark couverture chocolate. It has a melting temperature of roughly 28- 30C, which makes it suitable for gift-giving (if the weather is mild!)

1/3 cup (55g) cocoa butter

1 1/2 level tablespoons of coconut oil (at room temperature – it should be soft, but not liquid)

5 tablespoons raw cacao

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon mixed spice

2 generous tablespoons honey, rice malt syrup or other sweetener

dash of vanilla

Melt the cocoa butter gently in a steamer or place it in a small bowl in a saucepan of hot water over a stove top on low heat. Stir frequently until it melts. Be patient. Do not let it overheat or boil. Then, let it rest at room temperature, but make sure it doesn't harden again.

Make sure the coconut oil is soft, but still reasonably firm; like thick cream. If it is too runny (like liquid), you will need to place it in the fridge for a little while to harden, and it if it is solid you will need to soften it in a bowl of luke-warm water.

Place the coconut oil in a deep mixing bowl. Add the cocoa butter and begin to whisk. When they are blended together and smooth, add the remaining ingredients, and keep whisking. It should thicken a little bit as the mixture cools.

Check for flavour; if you want a richer chocolate, add more cocoa. For a sweeter blend, add more honey. Pour into chocolate moulds and refrigerate immediately. Remove from moulds and serve cold.

VARIATION

Goji berry chocolate: Add 2 tbsp finely chopped goji berries to the melted chocolate before pouring it into the moulds.

Solid, dark chocolate (for hollow eggs)

This recipe makes a rich, dark chocolate which is excellent for an Easter egg shell, or a cocoa-rich chocolate blend. It is the most temperature resistant recipe as it contains only cocoa butter which has a melting point of 34C. Note than many commercial chocolates contain milk solids, so this will taste more bitter in comparison.

1/2 cup (80g) cocoa butter

5 tablespoons raw cacao

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon mixed spice

2 generous tablespoons honey (or other sweetener)

dash of vanilla

Melt the cocoa butter gently by placing it in a small bowl in a saucepan of hot water over a stove top on low heat. Stir frequently until it melts. Be patient. Do not let it overheat or boil.

Pour cocoa butter into a deep bowl, and begin to whisk. As it cools it should thicken slightly. Continue to whisk and add the remaining ingredients.

Check for flavour; if you want a richer chocolate, add more cocoa. For a sweeter blend, add more honey.

To make solid eggs: Pour into Easter egg moulds and refrigerate immediately. Remove from moulds and serve cold.

To make hollow eggs: You will need an Easter egg mould (they are sold at most cooking stores and some supermarkets). Place the moulds in the freezer so they are very cold before you use them. Use a pastry brush to cover the interior sides of the mould with melted chocolate. Place the mould back in the freezer immediately. The chocolate shell needs to be 2-3mm thick, so you may need to repeat this step again once the chocolate has set.

When the shells are set, remove from the freezer and add a filling of chocolate nut butter fudge (see recipe below) or thick (creamy) honey. Return the moulds to the freezer. When firm, remove the egg halves from the moulds and join them (using a few drops of warm water) at the sides to form a traditional Easter egg.

Easter egg fillings

Chocolate nut butter fudge: Mixing together 1/2 cup coconut oil (at room temperature, it must not be liquid), 5 tablespoons cacao powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 3 tablespoons honey, a dash of vanilla and 2 tablespoons of pure peanut butter (100 per cent nuts) or almond butter.

Blend well in a food processor or mixing bowl until thick. You can pour this straight into Easter egg moulds as a filling. It can also be used to make individual Swiss-style Gianduja solid chocolates. Note that if you are not using it as a filling, it will have to be kept at a cool temperature because of its coconut oil base. Store it in the fridge until just before serving.

Creamed honey (for sweet tooths): Whisk some creamed honey together with a pinch of cinnamon and pour it straight into the chocolate mould.

Creamy solid chocolate eggs (with coconut oil)

Coconut oil gives a wonderful, creamy texture and softer taste to chocolate recipes. It is also much more economical to cook with compared to cocoa butter as it is significantly cheaper. The downside to making chocolate with coconut oil that it really needs to be kept in the fridge until right before you serve it; it has a melting temperature of 24 degrees, so will perish in most kitchens, or the hands of little ones!

1/2 cup coconut oil

5 tablespoons cacao powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon mixed spice

2 tablespoon honey

dash of vanilla

Start with the coconut oil at room temperature. It should be thick, but soft when you press on it. If it is runny, like liquid, you will need to cool it off in the fridge before you use it. If it is hard you will need to melt it gently in a bowl of warm, not hot) water.

Use a deep narrow, bowl and whisk together all the ingredients. It should become thick like chocolate ganache with no lumps of cocoa or oil.

Pour into chocolate moulds. Refrigerate until firm. Serve immediately once removed from the fridge as it will melt quickly.

Note: Some white specks may appear when you first remove this chocolate from the fridge. These will fade quickly as the chocolate is exposed to air.

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