revisiting childhood, revising tastes + homemade dark chocolate

I am eight or nine years of age. A block fringe bob frames my well-rounded, rosy-apple tinted cheeks. I am finally getting to the stage of exhausting that vexatious episode in which I was determined that black t-shirts and jeans were stylish and that my mother had no idea with her pretty, darling dresses. I am in my auntie’s kitchen – barefoot and swinging my toes across the chilly slated floor as I sit, in a chair twice the size of me, watching my auntie and mum engage in trivial conversation.

My auntie places an iconically red and yellow wrapped confectionery item into my half-pint hands; beaming down at me as I look up with a dubious, quizzical gaze. Encouraged with a single nod, I proceed to thumb the zigzagged fringe of the plastic packaging. I lift and pull half of the wrapper toward my body, disuniting the silky film, revealing a bar of a pale golden. Observing the smooth flaxen back – already noticing the aroma of obnoxiously indulgent caramel crossing the threshold of my senses – I flip the delicate, lightweight bar over to reveal six tiny rectangles, each with ‘Caramac’ emblazoned across the segments.

I snapped off a chunk and placed it on my wary tongue. Sitting there, in my auntie’s kitchen, a morsel of artificial toffee flavoured delight melted, sticking to every crevice and corner my miniature mouth possessed. Creamy, fudge-like… moreish albeit sickly. A peculiar sweetness for my amateur, ignorant tastebuds.

loved it. What wasn’t a sweet-toothed young girl to adore about a Caramac bar? It was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. It became our tradition: every time we visited my auntie she’d buy me bars upon bars of the treacly goodness which I would devour in a matter of minutes, afraid the chocolate monster (side note: my dad) would gobble them up when I wasn’t looking. And then my auntie suddenly passed away. And, a few years later, I got ill. And now it’s been four years since that cloying syrup substance melted on my tongue.

Of course, I probably wouldn’t enjoy a Caramac bar nowadays. My tastes have evolved and I find myself hankering for a rich, bodied, bittersweet dark chocolate in juxtaposition to the sweetness of that caramel.

I have been making my own dark chocolate for a while now as I enjoy the flexibility it gives me in controlling the amount and types of sweeteners I add. A little agave nectar goes a long way and that’s just how I like it. Subtle hints of sweetness, helping to lift those earthy cacao undertones into a blissful decadence. I use a silicone mould that I purchased from amazon but really, any container will do. You could even use cupcake cases and make little chocolate cups. These bars are refined sugar free, packed with healthy fats and tremendously tasty. I made one bar infused with maca & lucuma powders, and one plain. The recipe makes just enough for two 70g chocolate bars, plus a little extra for licking out the bowl…

  • 70g cocoa butter
  • 35g cocoa powder
  • 35g agave
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Blast the cocoa butter in the microwave until melted – about 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Using an electric whisk, incorporate the agave, vanilla extract and the melted cocoa butter. Slowly add in the cocoa powder and mix until smooth.
  3. Pour into moulds and freeze for one hour. Move to the fridge to store, and eat within one week for premium flavour (that won’t be hard, trust me).

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