Do you love chocolate? Do you consider it a guilty pleasure? Well, stop that right now. Cacao, in and of itself, is actually quite good for you.
The Aztecs and Mayans had the right idea, using cacao as both a vessel for administering medicinal herbs, and as a medicine itself. This wonderful bean is an excellent source of antioxidants, minerals, and stimulating Theobromine. That's right, it's not actually caffeine that gives us a kick when we eat chocolate. It's the cardiac stimulating, and smooth muscle relaxing Theobromine. The big difference is that Theobromine doesn't stimulate the Central Nervous System the way that caffeine does. So you get the body buzz (and diuretic effect) with out the jittery nerves. Win!
The main reason that chocolate has become a "guilty pleasure" is that we have been adding all sorts of unhealthy things to it (namely refined sugars and preservatives). Preservatives? Did you know that Cacao Butter has about a 2 year shelf life? I don't know about you, but I can't keep chocolate more than a month without eating it.
Now that we've assuaged any guilt about enjoying one of nature's lovely gifts, let's make it even better for us. My friends joke that everything I make during the colder seasons has some sort of immune system boosting qualities. They're not wrong. Tis the season for colds and flu. So why not give yourself as much a leg up as possible?
There are SO many immune supporting herbs, and some of them are probably already on your spice rack. There's a good reason that Ginger and Cinnamon are such common holiday spices. They are both antiviral, antioxidant, digestive aids that help to protect us from Winter colds and post holiday bloat.
Echinacea, Ashwagandha, and Reishi powder are less likely to be on your spice rack, but are well worth adding. All three offer excellent immune system support, and will give this recipe that little bit of bitterness that makes dark chocolate so lovely.
Now that we know what a healthy treat we're about to make, can we talk about how impressed your friends will be with your delicious and oh-so-professional looking goodies?! And they never have to know how simple this recipe truly is.
IMMUNE BOOSTING CHOCOLATES (VEGAN AND GF)
prep: 5 min cook: 60 min set: 30 min
4oz (1/2 C) Cacao Butter
4oz (1 1/4 C) Cacao Powder
1/4 tsp Reishi powder
1/2 Tbs Ashwagandha root powder
1/2 Tbs Echinacea Powder
1/4 C dried Elderberries
¼ tsp Cinnamon, ground
3.6oz (1/3 C) Maple Syrup
Freshly grated Ginger (to taste)
Double boiler ( or a glass bowl over a pot)
kitchen scale (optional)
Silicone candy molds (this recipe will fill about two 15-cavity molds)
1. Add about 1" of water to the bottom of a pot, and set your glass bowl on top, making sure that the bowl is not touching the water. Add Cacao Butter to the glass bowl, and set burner to low, and allow to melt completely. WATER SHOULD NEVER COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE CHOCOLATE INGREDIENTS. Water will change the texture of your chocolate to a lumpy mess that is irreversible.
2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine Cacao Powder, Reishi, Ashwaganha, Echinacea, Elderberries, and Cinnamon. Slowly add in the Maple Syrup, and stir until most of the large dry clumps have broken up. At this point, you'll have something that resembles a sticky paste.
3. Press a pinch of grated ginger into each mold. The ginger will give your chocolates a fun "marbled" look. It is important not to mix the ginger in with the other ingredients as the moisture in it will ruin the texture (see note in step 1).
4. Once the Cacao Butter has melted, add it to the Cacao Powder mixture, and stir until well combined. It is important to break up any big clumps, but it will not be completely smooth.
5. Fill the molds, and tap out air bubbles. Place your molds in the freezer for at least 30 min. before popping them onto a plate (or into your mouth). Store your chocolate in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.