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Raw Chocolate Truffles-to die for! Still time to make treats for gifts!

Posted Dec 18 2010 3:04am

“Life is like a box of chocolates……you never know what you’re gonna get!”  Unless….. you make them yourself!  And it’s pretty darn simple to make them.  Best part is that you know the ingredients are pure and simple without unwanted additives and excessive bad sugars.  I’ve shared these with family and friends and the verdict is… they are to die for!  So roll up your sleeves and get ready to impress with these delicious truffles that no one will believe are raw and actually not completely terrible for you compared to most unless of course you become addicted-which might not be hard to do!

The cacao bean is what all chocolate is made from although very little of the worlds chocolate products are raw. Raw cacao has it’s benefits and it’s drawbacks. Raw cacao powder is separated out from the fat portion of the bean which is called cacao butter.  Raw cacao contains three substances, caffeine, theobromine and phenyethylamine.  Caffeine acts as a stimulant. Theobromine stimulates the heart muscle and the nervous system. Phenyethylamine is reputed (no conclusive proof exists yet) to be a mood elevator and an anti-depressant.  It is also rich in flavonoids and contains antioxidants and magnesium as just a few of the beneficial nutrients that are not found in refined cocoa or chocolate because it is heated and highly processed.

On the flip side raw cacao can be very addictive as it contains contains high levels of serotonin and dopamine, two crucial neurotransmitters involved in regulating mood, sleep and appetite, and the cycle of addiction.  It is important to note that cravings of chocolate are a sign of addiction and one should be well aware that over consumption of chocolate can lead to a variety of symptoms from neurotransmitter imbalances and deficiencies, insomnia, depression, anxiety, obesity, hyperactivity, chronic pain, fatigue and nervousness. Yet, it stimulates feelings of euphoria which keep us coming back for more making it tricky to kick the habit.  Are you a little addicted to chocolate?… just a little?

Chocolate/cacao may seem like an innocent addiction and can be overlooked as the cause of unhealthy symptoms.  I recommend it as an occasional treat and nothing more as I know from my own experience that my body began to crave it for a period and I didn’t realize that I had become reliant on it for my daily fix instead of other old snack habits.  It is made up of many chemicals and should be used with caution.  If you do any research at all you will find a real mix of opinion on the raw cacao, indicating that it’s best to maintain moderation when consuming it.

All in all, if  you are going to enjoy some chocolate this holiday season you are better off with raw chocolate that is homemade for at least it has the benefit of antioxidants and better sweeteners.  I don’t mean to discourage you from enjoying all the wonderfully tasty chocolate treats during the holidays because it IS Christmas but…. when you are well aware of the facts you will be more inclined to use moderation versus sneaking off to the back closet with the entire box, consuming both the top and bottom layers!

The two truffle recipes below can be dipped into melted liquid raw chocolate or in a number of tasty options such as fine dried coconut, raw cacao powder, ground raw hazelnuts or cashews.  Raw cacao nibs can be garnishes as well as whole raw hazelnuts or cashews.  Get creative and have fun making these for gifts or for your own holiday guests but do save a few for yourself!

Raw Hazelnut Truffles
Yield: Approx 20 truffles
1  1/2 cups raw cacao powder
1/3 to 1/2 cup organic agave syrup (adjust to your liking)
3  drops liquid stevia-optional
1/4 tsp ground vanilla or alcohol free liquid vanilla
pinch of Himalayan salt
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts soaked approx 2-3 hours, drained
1/4 cup raw cashews soaked approx 2-3 hours, drained
1 tsp hazelnut oil-optional
1/3 cup unrefined organic coconut oil
1/3 cup cocoa butter, finely chopped
1 recipe of raw dipping chocolate-see below
Method
Prepare and measure out all ingredients and set aside.
Place cocoa butter in a double boiler pan over boiling water to melt the cocoa butter for 1-2 mins. Remove from heat before all the pieces have melted leaving the top pan over the hot water and then add the coconut oil to the melted cocao butter allowing it to melt.  Add all other ingredients to bowl of food processor and then add the oils and process immediately until smooth and creamy, forming a heavy mixture.  Using spatula, scrape mixture into a bowl and chill for approx 45 mins.  Once mixture is chilled, scoop by heaping teaspoon fulls and roll into balls and chill again for at least 10 mins on a parchment lined tray.  These can now be dipped into the liquid chocolate- recipe is below- or rolled into raw cacao powder or fine dried coconut.

Coconut Cashew Truffles
Yield:  12-16
truffles
1/4 cup organic agave syrup
1/4 cup organic unrefined coconut oil
1/2 cup finely shredded organic raw dried coconut
1/2 cup raw organic cashews, soaked approx 2-3 hours, drained
1/4 tsp ground vanilla or alcohol free liquid vanilla
nice pinch of Himalayan salt
Method
Place all ingredients except coconut oil in food processor.  Melt coconut oil either in a glass measuring cup set in hot tap water for 5 mins or over a double boiler for just 1 minute or less. It melts very easily and quickly.  Add to mixture and mix until well combined, scraping sides a couple times.  Mixture may form a ball.  Using spatula scrape mixture into a bowl and chill for approx 45 mins.  Once mixture is chilled, scoop by heaping teaspoon fulls and roll into balls and chill again for at least 10 mins on a parchment lined tray.  These can now be dipped into the liquid chocolate- recipe is below- or rolled into raw cacao powder or fine dried coconut.

Dipping Chocolate
Yield:  enough chocolate to dip approx 24-30 truffles
1 cup cacao butter, finely chopped
1/2 cups raw cacao powder
1/4 cup agave syrup or less- adjust to taste
pinch of Himalayan salt
1/4 tsp ground vanilla or alcohol free liquid vanilla
Method
Place cacao butter in a double boiler pan over boiling water bath to melt the cocoa butter for 1-2 mins. Remove from heat before all the pieces have melted.  Add remaining ingredients to the pan and stir until smooth, then remove from water bath.

Take one flavour of truffles from fridge and place a toothpick in each.  Dip each one into the liquid chocolate allowing the excess to run off, then placing the truffle on a tray lined with parchment or wax paper.  When all are dipped carefully remove the toothpicks by twisting and gently pulling upward.  In order to cover the toothpick hole add a garnish of a nut by dipping the nut in chocolate just enough to make it stay on tops or place fine shredded coconut or cacao nibs on the top of each before the chocolate hardens.  If the dipping chocolate becomes too thick you may place it over the hot water for a minute or two.  Once all truffles are dipped you can speed up the hardening process by chilling for a wee bit-say 10 mins.  Do not leave them in the fridge too long as they will form condensation when removed from the cold and this will leave an unwanted finish on the surface of the chocolate. If you run out of dipping chocolate you can roll the truffle centers in cocoa powder or fine dried coconut. Voila, you have world class chocolates now!

Now to wrap them up pretty for gifts!  I was so inspired by red things I managed to pull together that I did a mood board to inspire you to get creative with some of the supplies you might have or to check out your local craft store for some goodies.  My friend Leslie over at A Creative Mint is the queen of mood boards and collages .  Her creations are always soooo gorgeous and they look so fun to do that I thought I would give it a shot.  What do you think?  Are you inspired to wrap  your truffles up all pretty and nice?

All I have here is some scrap booking papers, ribbon & twine, cello, scalloped paper edging and paper doilies.  I managed to find some lovely divided boxes by Martha Stewart that work nicely for a gift of chocolates.  They come complete with the polka dot liners and are flat packed in a variety of patterns.  All you do is quickly assemble and you are ready to fill them with tasty chocolate morsels. FYI- Michaels the craft store carries Martha’s line if you don’t have time for on-line ordering.

You can also use clear cello bags or cello wrap to give the treats some sparkle.  I created little homemade boxes, round and square and then gathered cello around them securing with twine or ribbon.  Little foil cups in gold or silver keep the truffles intact and add a nice professional look to your creation.  You can even add a sprig of berries or cedar and a tag to embellishment it further.

Alternatively, you can just pile them in a festive bowl or place them on tiered stands with any other treats you may have.  They look lovely no matter how your lay them out but if you have white paper doilies they also look nice.  Either way they won’t last long!

Although this is not such an alkaline recipe, but a treat, it is a better choice than commercially made chocolates since the beneficial elements are still in tact.  I think it is completely fine to indulge now and then--don’t you agree? I refer to it as zigging and zagging.  Even splurging on nice dark chocolate that isn’t raw is a whole lot better than maybe choosing to have a diet soda or junk food.  Use your own judgment but don’t stress over it.  Just know that you are learning how to balance out the occasional zig and the zag and eat your raw veggies to make up for it all!  For more on zig and zag see my last post here .

I hope you have a great week- try to enjoy the process of holiday preparations.  It can be the happiest time of the year if you choose it to be!  If all else fails, have a truffle!

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