You'll know if you've been following me on social media, or if you got the chance to read this blog post, I've given up refined sugar for Lent. It's been one of the most challenging things I've done in regards to a lifestyle change - I suspect even harder than giving up caffeine and smoking - but with 10lbs gone so far in just over 2 weeks and my head/skin/digestive system clearer than it has been in a while, it's definitely been worth all the planning, prepping and powering through the cravings.
When I started to consider whether sugar-free could be a complete lifestyle change for me instead of just for 46 days, I wanted to know if I could still have "sweet" things or whether I'd be sacrificing my dessert tooth forever. That's when I started to Google no sugar recipes and this book popped up. One Amazon order later and a beautifully photographed hardback dropped on my desk.
It's a Pleasure is written by award winning food blogger Virpi Mikkonen is designed to transform the way you think about sweet treats, and are all made with no refined sugar, no diary and no gluten. Most recipes in this book are entirely plant based, many are prepared in the freezer rather than the oven and surprisingly simple to make. I genuinely couldn't believe I could make my own chocolate in less than 60 minutes from start to finish. But that's what I did last week. And here's how I did it.
85g Organic Raisins
50ml Dark Navy Rum
85g Cacao Butter (grated)
9 tbsp of Raw Cacao Powder
9 tbsp of Coconut Oil
2 tbsp of Honey
2 tbsp of Almond Butter
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Sea Salt
1. Combine the rum and the raisins in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and leave the soak for 20 minutes.
2. Melt the cacao butter, cacao powder, coconut oil and honey in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.
3. Add the almond butter and stir into a smooth mixture.
4. Drain the raisins and add along with the vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt.
5. Either divide the mixture into silicone chocolate moulds or do what I did and add to a round cake tin.
6. Pop into the freezer for 30 minutes to set and enjoy.
Honest thoughts? I absolutely loved it. It was just the right amount of chocolate to satisfy my cravings. But I knew the real taste test would be taking it into work for the other chocoholics in my life to try. They loved it too! Even the grumpy ones who scoffed at my idea of making my own sugar free chocolate.
The consistency is almost truffle like and although you don't get that crisp snap you get with normal chocolate, keeping it in the fridge means it retains it solid form. It has a very dark, deep taste, as you'd expect from homemade chocolate, but not as bitter as I'd imagined it to be. I obviously added rum soaked raisins to mine, but you could add hazelnuts, orange extract (this is my next plan) or even mint extract to alter the flavour slightly.
The downside? The ingredients were super expensive, especially the Cacao powder and butter which I bought from Holland & Barret, but to be fair, I've still got enough for about 4-5 more chocolate tins which last over a week if you have a little bit each day so cost per bite is still relatively low and definitely less than buying sweets and chocolates from Tesco every night.
The book itself has so many tasty looking recipes in such as strawberry ice cream, cinnamon chocolate donuts, mango melon sorbet cake and so much more. Being allergic to peanuts means I have to adapt a few of these recipes and it's also wise to convert the ingredients into grams and ml's if you're not used to cup measurements like me. I mean, what is half a cup? Which cup do I use? Is this a mug? It's all so complicated.