What is Raw Chocolate?

A question that we often get asked is "What is raw chocolate?" It's no wonder really, given that it's relatively new in the Western consciousness. After looking round the website, I realised that it's not actually something I go in to that much detail about. So here's my definitive blog post on the subject.

raw cacao podThe generally held view is that raw chocolate, in the context of what we do round these parts, relates to two key aspects. Both fundamental to raw chocolate and both fundamentally different to your average chocolate product.

Low Temperatures

First up is the nature of the cacao itself, how it's produced and how it's processed. Specifically, when it comes to temperature through the processing. Typically, from bean to bar, your average choccie has gone through the mill, so to speak, being heated to temperatures as high as 200°F two, three, sometimes more times.

The processes involved include:

  • Roasting the beans
  • Extracting the butter & powder, through high temperature/pressure mechanical processing
  • Conching - essentially kneeding and mixing the cocoa butter and powder at temperature
  • Tempering -  heating and cooling the chocolate to manipulate the crystal structure

Now anyone with a basic understanding of nutrition will realise that all this heating and cooling of the cacao will destroy nutrients, lots of them.

With raw cacao by contrast, the beans are never roasted, the extraction of the butter and powder is done on a small scale, under low temperatures, conching is not done and tempering is typically skipped also. See my blog post "To Temper or Not To Temper, That is the Question" for more thoughts on this topic.

No Added Junk

The second key aspect of raw chocolate is that you don't add all the junk to your chocolate creations that is generally added to conventional chocolate. By this I mean, we don't use dairy, refined sugars, added fats or packers. Basically nothing artificial will go near a raw choclate creation.

Instead, here at Elements for Life we use Sweet Freedom (a low GI syrup made from fruit extracts), raw honey or Coconut Palm Sugar (a low GI sugar made the the nectar of the coconut palm) in place of cane sugar or artifical sweeteners. A variety of superfood ingredients, such as lucuma and maca can also be added to change the flavour and smoothness of your raw chocolates. There's certainly no need for any additional fats, no packers or bulking agents.

Suitable For Everyone

raw chocolate barsWe're all fairly used to being told chocolate is bad for us. When it comes to conventional chocolate, I'd agree. But raw chocolate is a different beast all together. With minimal processing carefully carried out under low temperatures and the lack of the junk being added to the finished products, raw chocolate gooides are generally suitable for a wide range of detary considerations.

With the absence of dairy, raw chocolate is suitable for vegans and lactose intolerance. The use of low GI natural sweeteners raw chocolate is a good choice for diabetics. Without any added wheat or gluten, raw chocolate products such as our award winning Yummy Scrummy raw chocolate brownie are perfect for coeliacs.

Lastly, I certainly believe that raw chocolate is far superior in flavour than your normal junk laden, nutrient-sparse poor substitute we've been fed for years.

Raw Chocolate Adventure

So as you have read, there's a lot of positives in favour of raw chocolate with it's high nutrient content, natural ingredients and lack of junk. Turning the old bad-for-us treat into a healthy, nutrious taste explosion at every turn! Hopefully this will help people to understand what raw chocolate is and why it's superior to conventional chocolate products.

Best of all though for me, is that raw chocolate is an adventure. Since it came in to my life a few years ago things have taken on a whole new dimension and I'm constantly surprised and amazed where the fun takes me.

Care to join me on the adventure?