Home made chocolate spread

Home made chocolate spread in a jar, openI had the sudden urge last week for some sort of chocolate spread. Handy for embellishing toast of course, but also good for dropping over vanilla ice cream, or frankly just eating straight from the jar in a chocolate emergency. I don’t expect much from the high street offerings – stabilisers and flavourings being the norm.

So off I went down to my local health food store (the excellent new ‘Earth‘ in Kentish Town Road – an updated version of the old Bumblebee store for those who knew and loved it). I thought if I chose an organic brand I would have more chance of a spread made with simple, good ingredients.

A range of well and lesser known brand name chocolate and nut spreads were on sale, but ALL of them, without exception contained a significant amount of vegetable fat. We spend a lot of time at tastings and on the site talking about how vegetable fat is a complete no-no when it comes to decent chocolate, so I’m not really keen to be eating great lumps of it just to enjoy a chocolate spread. Most of them were using palm fat, which I understand is not that beneficial for health, even if it is organic. For other vegetable oils to become a harder ‘fat’ rather than liquid oil, they must have been processed in some way. Organic status might not allow the dreaded ‘hydrogenated’ vegetable fat, but I still don’t fancy it.

So, how could I satisfy my cravings. Well, thinking of the traditional nut and chocolate spreads like Nutella, I decided to buy a jar of pure nut spread and experiment with mixing in the chocolate myself. This would allow me to control the ingredients and use a much better quality of chocolate. I’m not sure how the results would be, but I was pretty sure I’d end up eating them somehow!

Mixing sunflower spread into melted chocolateI chose a 200g jar of organic sunflower spread / butter, which turned out to be an interesting choice and maybe not the best starting point. I then melted down about 160g of Valrhona Cao Grande in my bain-marie, took this off the heat and stirred in the sunflower spread, a little sea salt and about 25g of organic demerara sugar. By now the mixture was beginning to cool, so the sugar couldn’t dissolve fully. This would leave grains of sugar in the final mixture, but I rather like this added texture, reminiscent of Domori’s Gem.

Before the mixture cooled I poured most of it into a clamp seal jar, which had originally held salt caramel and came courtesy of Paul A Young Fine Chocolates. I think this looks rather authentic and elegant (see the photo at the start of this post).

Not all the mixture would fit into Paul’s jar, so of course I samples some of the left-overs. This is where I wondered whether sunflower seeds where the best choice, as the taste was a little tart and cheesy – the influence of the sunflower seeds was too strong.

After a few days in the fridge though the flavours seemed to blend and the whole experience was a lot better, and very moreish.

So the result in my opinion a tastier, better quality chocolate spread than i might otherwise have had, even if I had bought a premium brand. Healthier too, and of course using a real decent fine chocolate gave a much better flavour. My only concern would be shelf (or fridge) life, but that turned out not to be a concern … the spread disappeared rather quickly.

This was a lot of fun and I intend to experiment more with different nut butters and flavour combinations.

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