Simple Honey-Sweetened Chocolate (and GAPS Chocolate Chips!)

homemade chocolate with honey

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Handmade chocolate, fragrant with cocoa butter and vanilla bean and enhanced by just a touch of coffee.  Chopped fine, this simple chocolate becomes chocolate chips for truly spectacular homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Poured into molds, this chocolate can easily become homemade candy, such as these GAPS Peanut Butter Cups.  And simply cut into bars, you can make homemade chocolate bars for snacking or even s’mores!

Homemade chocolate chips are surprisingly easy to make, despite the ease with which most people can simply buy a package of chocolate chips from the store.  For many people, store chocolate chips are not an option.  Whether from principle or allergies, I have good news: you can make chocolate chips at home!

What’s wrong with store-bought chocolate chips?  Most store-bought chocolate chips are made with soy lecithin to make the texture smooth.  If you are allergic to soy, this can be very frustrating. Plus, even if you aren’t allergic to soy, I doubt it is ideal to eat soy lecithin when you are committed to a whole foods and traditional foods diet.

Store-bought chocolate chips also almost always are sweetened with white sugar or evaporated cane juice.  If you are on GAPS (a low-starch, probiotic, gut-healing diet), this is tricky because I have yet to see a chocolate sweetened with honey anywhere besides random companies on the internet (which I think are too pricey).

There are two typical problems you run into when making homemade chocolates.  Fortunately, I do not think it is too hard to avoid either one.  Just follow my steps, and learn a little about chocolate and how it behaves in the kitchen by reading below!

The first common problem is how to temper chocolate to make it set up at room temperature. I do not know that much about it except for what I have learned looking at recipes that call for it.  They usually start with unsweetened, dark, or milk chocolate from the store, which is then melted (but not too hot!) and cooled (but not too cool!).  It sounds like a headache unless you know what you’re doing.

An easier way to temper chocolate is by using a microwave like Ina Garten recommends in this recipe, but I do not like to microwave food anymore if I can help it.  Even though the chocolate is properly tempered in the microwave method, I don’t want the worry that I am destroying nutrients in the chocolate.  Plus, we don’t even have a microwave anymore!  And most importantly, my version of making chocolate is way easier!!

The second common problem is keeping your melted chocolate from seizing into a grainy mass.  This is problem is one that you need to pay attention to with my recipe below.  But don’t worry!  If you understand why melted chocolate seizes, then you’ll be well-equipped to keep your chocolate smooth and gorgeous.

I read this description of seizing chocolate somewhere, and it finally made sense to me: melted cocoa butter with cocoa powder and sweetener added is best treated like a soft solid.  It’s not really liquid.  This is why chocolate can seize when melted if even the tiniest bit of water touches it.  Think about when you add a small amount of water to flour: it becomes a balled up thick paste.

The same thing happens when you get a drop or two of water, say from condensation or a slightly damp kitchen tool or the steam from the water simmering beneath your melted chocolate.  That small amount of water will turn your smooth melted chocolate into a grainy ball of chocolate.  And it can happen suddenly, too!  Keep your water simmering gently, and take care that every tool you use is bone dry.

On the other hand, if you add a significant amount of water or liquid to the melted chocolate, then it doesn’t seize up.  There is enough liquid going into the mixture all at once that you will not be left with a grainy mass, but simply a softer chocolate after it is cooled.  So when you add vanilla or coffee to your melted chocolate, do not fear!

Why add coffee to chocolate?  I have noticed that a few of my favorite cooks add coffee to anything they make with chocolate or cocoa powder.  The idea is that the coffee is just enough to enhance the flavor of the chocolate, but not enough to taste like the coffee.  It is just that the chocolate tastes better.  I have tried it, and it is true!

But of course, you can leave it out.  Or use decaf or a coffee substitute if you wish.  Remember that coffee is GAPS-legal, but most coffee substitutes like Teeccino and Dandy Blend are not GAPS-legal because of the use of grains in the mix.

A note on cocoa butter:  Cocoa butter is the white solid fat that comes from the cocoa pod.  It is most recognizable as “white chocolate”, which is simply cocoa butter sweetened and flavored.  The cocoa butter fat is much easier to digest for GAPS people when compared to cocoa powder or chocolate in it’s typical bar form. Fortunately, I have an excellent source of cocoa butter on my resource page.  The cocoa butter is pure, organic, fragrant, delicate, and absolutely gorgeous!

(Even so, after your digestive problems have subsided, you can start consuming cocoa powder if you can tolerate it on GAPS.  You can see the official answer here, in the GAPS FAQ page under “cocoa”.)

Equipment Needed:

Handmade Chocolate

3/4 cup cocoa butter (buy cocoa butter here)
3/4 cup cocoa powder (buy cocoa powder here)
6 tablespoons raw honey (buy raw honey here)
1 tablespoon brewed coffee (buy organic, fair-trade coffee here)
scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean (buy vanilla beans here)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (buy high quality extracts here)

  1. In a glass bowl set over simmering water, melt cocoa butter completely.  Turn the heat off and, using a whisk, add cocoa powder gradually and incorporate completely until there are no lumps.  Add honey and vanilla seeds from scraped vanilla bean (reserve the bean for another use).  Whisk until smooth.  Add vanilla extract and coffee and whisk until smooth again.
  2. Let cool, stirring every 10 minutes or so, 30 minutes total.  Use to make candies, or pour into molds and let harden.

GAPS Chocolate Chips (Chunks)

3/4 cup cocoa butter (buy cocoa butter here)
3/4 cup cocoa powder (buy cocoa powder here)
6 tablespoons raw honey (buy raw honey here)
1 tablespoon brewed coffee (buy organic, fair-trade coffee here)
scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean (buy vanilla beans here)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (buy high quality extracts here)

  1. In a glass bowl set over simmering water, melt cocoa butter completely.  Turn the heat off and, using a whisk, add cocoa powder gradually and incorporate completely until there are no lumps.  Add honey and vanilla seeds from scraped vanilla bean (reserve the bean for another use).  Whisk until smooth.  Add vanilla extract and coffee and whisk until smooth again.
  2. Pour into a glass pan or jelly roll pan and let harden at room temperature.  Then chop into small bite-size pieces.  Use in chocolate chip cookies or other baked goods!

Cocoa butter is difficult to find, and even when you do it can be low quality and have a rancid taste.  Fortunately, I have a tried and true source for pure, organic cocoa butter on my resource page.  Check it out by clicking here!

This post is a part of Weekend Gourmet, Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, The Mommy Club, Healthy2Day Wednesdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Full Plate Thursday, Fight Back Friday, and Fresh Bites Friday.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.
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Comments

  1. Hi Kendahl. Nice post – but I am really puzzled about the seizing. I’ve got a choc / carob chip recipe on my blog and sometimes it just doesn’t work. I will say, however, that I’ve gotten it to work really consistently, but now I’m wanting to make it with cocoa butter.

    Am I being dense? I don’t understand the seizing thing. One thing that happened to me is I tried melting my chocolate chips and they just turned into a huge mess. Could this be why? I wish I understood the physics behind the seizing. Strange. Can you explain more?

    Thanks!

    • It’s basically that you can put a tablespoon of liquid into the melted chocolate, but not a drop. Weird, huh? The only thing that makes sense to me is the analogy with the flour and water turning into a paste. I’ve had chocolate seize before, but not with this recipe, and I’ve made it three times. I wish I could explain it better! I used to think it was totally random, but I have had good luck so far with following the “no drops of liquid” rule.

      • Chocolate also seizes when it gets heated too quickly. This can be remedied though! When using a double boiler, it’s OK at first to turn the heat on high, but once the water boils turn the heat to a medium-low just so that it maintains a simmer. If you leave it on high, it will seize. If your chocolate has already seized up, start the heating process over again so that it can melt properly and the graininess will go away. Good luck! :)

  2. OHHH…..I am so excited to try your recipe!! I can’t wait to make homemade whole wheat cookies with homemade chocolate chunks!!

  3. Pavil, the Uber Noob says:

    I might spring for homemade cacao liquor from freshly ground nibs in lieu of buying cacao butter and powder separately. I like the touch of coffee.

    Thanks for posting.

    Ciao, Pavil

  4. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!
    http://realfoodforager.com/fat-tuesday-january-17-2012/

    Share your great fermented food recipes at my Probiotic Food Linky – open through Februray 6, 2012.
    http://realfoodforager.com/probiotic-food-challenge-linky/

  5. Hi Kendahl,
    This is an amazing recipe! Unfortunately I am still not using cocoa powder — wonder if it would work with just cocoa butter and honey??
    How do your chips work in a baked food — do they stay solid or do they melt?

    • They melt a little more than regular chocolate chips when I made chocolate chip cookies, perhaps because they aren’t a uniform size? But then when they cooled they hardened up again like normal.

      And I’m testing white chocolate today! I’ll put it up ASAP. I think it’s gonna work though!

  6. Bless you!!! :D

  7. I have cacao nibs, which I think are just kinda chopped up cacao beans. Can I use this instead of the coco butter, coco powder? Is it kinda the same as all in one? I can also get whole cacao beans if that would make it better.

    • It is the same thing all in one, but it’s the process of fermenting the cacao beans and then pressing them that gives the result of cocoa butter and cocoa powder/liquor. If you tried heating your cacao nibs they wouldn’t melt, they would just get roasty :) But you can use them as chocolate chips in a cookie recipe, it’s really good!

  8. This great post is featured at Sunday Snippets this week! Thanks for sharing! Come and check it out!

    http://realfoodforager.com/sunday-snippets-january-29-2012/

  9. It looks very good Kendahl, I want to see if I can get it to work for me, just follow the directions, right? Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  10. Has anyone made this as a ‘vegan’ chocoalte and substituted the honey with something else? (If not, when I give it a go, I will let you know how it turns out!)

    • Ooooh, maybe try maple syrup? I bet that would be good and would blend in nicely.

      • i’ve made chocolate chips with maple syrup and it is very nice. i just melted some butter in a pan (just enough to keep the chocolate from burning) added unsweetened chocolate and maple syrup to taste. stirred it all up and poured it onto baking parchment to let it harden.

  11. I can’t get your link to work to buy the cocoa butter. Bummer.

    Also, I’d like to try this using agave instead of honey. I wonder how that will work.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Where does the link go? It should go to my resource page that links to Wilderness Family Naturals. They have cocoa butter there that I love!

    • Oh, and I don’t recommend using agave. It breaks down in the body like corn syrup, so I prefer honey. If you’re looking for a low glycemic index sweetener, you can play with using stevia or coconut sugar, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t say whether it will work out or not.

  12. I just made this and am waiting for my chips to harden, but in the meantime I drizzled it overtop of homemade raspberry icecream. New and improved magic shell. O.M.G. So, so good. Thanks, Kendahl!

  13. Jennifer Gleason says:

    Hi Kendah,
    I am so excited that I can give my GAPS kid some chocolate chips! I made the recipe today but it’s not hardening. Not sure what I did wrong. Any ideas? I used raw cacao powder and raw cacao butter. It’s been sitting on my counter for a few hours but not hardening. Should I put in the fridge. It did not get grainy, so that’s good! Thanks for any help. Jennifer

    • Yes, try the fridge; the fridge will harden it quicker so you can tell if it will set up for you. It should! Mine took all the way overnight to harden at room temperature, and that was in a pretty cool kitchen this winter.

  14. Is it possible to substitute coconut oil or palm oil or the cocoa butter?

    • You could, but you will need to set them up in the fridge instead of at room temperature. Cocoa butter has a higher melting point (100 degrees or so) than palm oil (which melts at 85 degrees) and coconut oil (which melts at 76 degrees.) But they will all taste great!

      • We’ve tried this recipe 4 times now trying different variants of temperature and each time we wind up with a really great tasting fudge, but not a hard chocolate that will snap or can be cut up. Any extra tips for the ‘tempering’ we could try?

        • Oh bummer. :( Hmmm…

          Well, my first guess is that it’s just hot in your kitchen. Have you tried letting it set up in the fridge? Even some storebought chocolate I bought a few days ago got really soft on my counter, and my kitchen is only around 80 degrees. If it won’t stay hard at room temp, you may just need to leave it in the fridge and then let it sit out at room temp for about 30 minutes before using or eating.

          Also, did you use the cocoa butter from my resource page? It may be that a different brand doesn’t set up as well?

  15. Can I leave out the vanilla beans? They’re so expensive.

  16. Hi Kendahl
    Just made some of this chocolate. Delicious! Though….I poured my chocolate into a mould and I noticed after it had hardened that the visible surface had fat bloom. The rest of the surfaces were fine. I also had leftover chocolate which I just let set in a bowl. The surface of this was perfect. Any ideas why the chocolate in the mould would get bloom but not the chocolate in the bowl? Suggests it wasn’t in the tempering process.
    Thanks.

  17. So I had saved this recipe ages ago, probably when you first published. I finally got around to giving it a try yesterday. So amazing! I wish I had started making this sooner. :-)

    I even gave your coffee part a try. I can’t stand coffee and can detect even small amounts, but you were totally right. Didn’t notice it at all, and I’m sure it helped bring out the chocolate taste.

    Thanks!

  18. This is a wonderful way to have guilt free chocolate!!! Since getting Nourishing Traditions 3 years ago, I’ve felt guilty when I decide to make healthy cookies with store chocolate chips in them. I’ve found amazing dessert recipes that use no sugar and soaked grains, but I thought there was way around all the soy lechithin and other junk in the chips — and sometimes we really want them in the cookies. :) Now we can have them more often, thanks to you! This is super easy and fast — unlike most NT recipes. And I found a great cocoa butter on Swanson’s Vitamins that works great, and doesn’t cost too much.

  19. Mine seized. I have no idea why this happens this to me. I made carob chips before with coconut oil and honey and it seized twice. This is an expensive mistake :( I wanted so badly for this to turn out.

    • Remember that even if it seizes, you can still use it. It’s delicious! You can use the seized chocolate for any recipe that calls for melted chocolate, like brownies. Just melt a tablespoon of melted coconut oil or palm shortening at a time and stir it into the warmed seized chocolate until it smooths out a bit, and you’re good to go.

  20. I made this a few weeks ago and cut them into the choc chips to use in recipes. Homemade chocolate chips?! Who knew?! :-) I did get that same fat bloom that someone above mentioned.. but I just left it and the chips still taste fine. I’m making double chocolate raspberry muffins to bring into work tomorrow, but now I am second-guessing if I want to share my homemade chocolate chips with all my co-workers LOL

  21. Kendahl, I am wondering if you still read the comments on this recipe. I have wanted to make these for a long time and finally got around to doing so last night. I followed the recipe exactly and was excited to try out the results (and maybe even make some cookies for my GAPS kiddos today). I did get the same fat bloom as was mentioned above, which I found surprising because it was really cold in our house last night (our heat is broken). Then, when I went to chop up the chocolate, I found that it had separated into two layers, a hard unsweetened chocolate layer on top, and a layer of honey on bottom. I did use the solid (raw) honey, but I mixed thoroughly and had no separation last night when I poured it into the pan. I can’t figure out why it would have failed like this!!

    • Dang. I can’t figure that out either. I did notice that when I made my white chocolate recipe it was a little more finicky like that. If you notice in the instructions to the white chocolate, you have to continue to blend the mixture together as it hardens (easy to do with an immersion blender, but still annoying). Perhaps that would help. But seriously, that’s weird.

  22. Charlotte says:

    I’ve made this 4 times now, and although it tastes great as fudge, it never hardens. Not even in the fridge! And my house is always cold, totally in the shade in Vermont. I do it exactly by the directions, so not sure how to get it hard. I’d love to make chocolate candy bars as a Christmas gift if I can get it to work. Even in the fridge, it has the texture of a bendable but firm fruit leather. Anyone else fix this???

    • Really?! That’s so weird. What kind of cocoa butter are you using? And are you using a liquid honey, or a thick set honey? That might make a difference. I also haven’t tried making this with whole cane sugar yet, but I wonder if it would set up better. If you’re on GAPS that doesn’t help, but if not, it’s worth a try!

  23. Could I make this recipe using unsweetened bakers chocolate? Would 1 8oz box be equivalent to the amount of cocoa powder and cocoa butter in your recipe?

    Thank you,
    Rita

    • I’m not sure. I think the baker’s chocolate would work though. I just don’t know how much to use. You can eyeball it and come back to tell us how it goes!

  24. came out quite well with unsweetened bakers chocolate. I used 6 squares because that was a;ll I had in the house. I melted it in my crockpot with aprox. 1/2 cup honey and 2 Tbs butter. Next time I will use a water bath in the crockpot because it cooled off and got a little grainy before i could get it into the molds.

  25. Catherine says:

    I can’t seem to find the source that you use for the cocoa butter. Is it at radiant life? I don’t see it there. Can you give me another source?

  26. I tried to make these today and it seized up on me. Not sure what I did wrong. I wanted to make chocolate lollipops in molds. I added liquid stevia because I thought it wasn’t sweet enough. Could this be why? How could I save it to make it melt enough to pour into the molds?

  27. Hi! Very yummy chocolate! I made this today and the taste was amazing. The only issue I had was that it looked grainy after about 10 minutes of cooling. It started of creamy and yummy and then the texture changed. Is that was “seizing up” means? I bought good quality, organic, raw coconut butter, but I have had it for a few months in the pantry. Should I store it in the fridge?

    I ended up reheating on low, adding a little milk (all I had) and it all came back together. I poured it immediately into molds and let them sit on the counter. The house is about 67 degrees. The chocolate never got hard and looked grainy under the top layer, but still tasted great, so I put the molds in the freezer. I can always use them for chocolate drizzle, but I was curious how I could have better luck with the texture and the firming up the next time.

    I’m going to try your coconut flour cake next. The reviews looks so wonderful and I’ve never had much luck with this four, so I’m excited to try it.

  28. So, could I make white chocolate by just not adding the cocoa powder? Thx for your blog! Love it!!

  29. Hi, I would like to make this recipe.
    I have two questions.
    1) Could you please provide the weight of the cocoa butter? Mine comes broken into quite big pieces, so measuring it with a cup would be inaccurate.
    2) Which sort of honey do you recommend? A mild tasting acacia honey, or a stronger tasting honey made with a variety of flowers?
    Thank you.

  30. This sounds wonderful ! But I am allergic to coffee ..what would be a good substitute ?

  31. I might have missed this in previous comments, but why can’t you buy good quality unsweetened chocolate instead of using cocoa butter & cocoa powder?

  32. I don’t understand how these are GAPS legal. In Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book, she very specifically lists chocolate and cocoa powder as being items to avoid (even on the full GAPS diet). Even carob is not GAPS legal. I just thought you might want to know this. But maybe this recipe is SCD friendly. You might want to make the clarification since SCD & GAPS are not the same thing. :-) But thank you for the recipe. When I am off of GAPS, I am so happy to have a recipe for chocolate that I can trust. I like the Enjoy Life chocolate chips, but they still use sugar, which I do not like. I’m really excited to try this recipe for myself (at a later date) and for some of my paleo friends (in the meantime).

    • From the link I shared in the article located here (text below):

      Cocoa
      1. When can cocoa be introduced?
      Cocoa is SCD illegal. However, I find that many people can start having it occasionally on the Full GAPS Diet, once the digestive symptoms are gone. Find pure organic cocoa powder. Mixing the powder with some honey and sour cream makes a delicious dessert, and you can add it to your homemade ice cream or cakes. After trying it for the first time, observe your patient for any reactions. Cocoa is very rich in magnesium and some essential amino acids and, unless your digestive system is not ready for it, there is no need to avoid it.

  33. Never mind about my previous comment about cocoa being GAPS illegal. I read where that was addressed in a link to GAPS FQA. Thanks for providing clarification for that. I am so excited to try this recipe. :-) I hope you feel like an awesome person for putting this out there, cause you are. <3

  34. Tammy barney says:

    Hi there, can you say if using 100% unsweetened chocolate bars to make chocolate candy from your recipe will work in the recipe? Thanks from a gaps diet Family.

  35. Jackie V says:

    Its says 3/4 cup cocoa powder, but the link is for cacao powder :)

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