Maple and Herb Chocolates
by Monarda Thrasher | Guest contributor
My homemade herb infused maple chocolates are so good that I only make them for special occasions. They are perfect for gifts, for holidays, and birthdays.
Homemade chocolates can be made to satisfy diverse flavor palettes. I always make them infused with delicious herbs: fir tips, lemon balm, basil, anise hyssop, tulsi and rose are some of my favorites. And I always pair these flavors with a nut or fruit because I like texture: hickory, pecan, coconut, blueberry, hawthorne, raspberry or cherry.
Made with Maple Valley maple sugar, these chocolates have a little bit more breadth than a bar chocolate. I find maple to be both uplifting and earthy. And because these are not tempered, they behave differently than tempered bar chocolate – after a couple days, they have a dull blotchy finish, they melt more easily, and there is a bit more texture in the mouth. Homemade untempered chocolates should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within a few weeks. They are best within a week of creation.
While they are relatively simple to make, they take some time to create. The whole process takes me 2 days, though it’s a lot of waiting time, not a lot of prep time.
The first step is to infuse the herbs in cocoa butter.
Step One: Making Cocoa Butter Infused with Herbs
Ingredients (by weight)
- 3.5 oz cocoa butter*
- 0.35 oz dried herbs (powdered or garbled)
- Weigh cocoa butter and herbs.
- Put them into a crock pot or the top pot of the double boiler.
- Turn on the heat, let the butter melt, turn off heat, and let cool. Temperature should stay below 120ºF; 95-105ºF is ideal.
- Repeat this on/off cycle 3 or 4 times. Sometimes this takes me a couple days.
- Press out the herbs using a “ricer”. You can also use a muslin/linen/cloth bag and squeeze it using your hands. I let it drain through a fine strainer, too. Try to get as much of that butter as possible! This recipe will render less than 3.5 oz of infused butter.
*you can buy cocoa butter in most co-ops in the body care section or ask them to order it, or order it online
Step Two: Making the Simple Hard Chocolates
To make the chocolates, I usually measure by weight. But it’s not an exact science. Just think of all the percentages of cacao you see in bar chocolate. I use about equal parts, by weight, of: sugar, cocoa butter and cacao powder.
This would be roughly ~66% dark chocolate. From here, I adjust my ratios of sugar and cacao to get it darker or lighter, but I always make sure to use 33% cocoa butter. For example, 40% cacao powder, 33% cocoa butter, 27% sugar. If I want it milky, I’ll use less cacao or sugar and add some milk or coconut milk powder. For instance, 33% cocoa butter, 33% cacao, 28% sugar, 5% milk powder.
This recipe is all about quality ingredients! I use maple sugar that has been powdered in a blender, as this will make a smoother chocolate (1 C powdered maple sugar- weighs 5 ¼ oz.) and I use both organic fermented and non-fermented cacao powder.
Fermented cacao powder has more of an enhanced cacao flavor, is less bitter and has less phytic acid, which inhibits mineral absorption. On the other hand, raw cacao has more flavonoids, which are antioxidant, and therefore, anti-inflammatory compounds. I like an array of health benefits, so I choose both! I do not use cocoa powder, which is processed with alkali and does not render a good flavor.
Ingredients (by weight)
- 3 oz Maple Valley maple sugar
- 3oz Cocoa butter (made above in step one)
- 3oz Cacao powder
- Gently warm cocoa butter, add maple sugar and whisk, letting the maple sugar heat up.
- Turn off heat, remove vessel from water bath and add cacao powder, 1 heaping Tablespoon at a time. Stir w/ whisk. Taste!
- When mixture is thick and fully incorporated, pour chocolate into mold, cupcake papers or onto wax/parchment paper.
- If adding fruit/nuts:
- Using a mold, pour a thin layer of chocolate, cool slightly in the refrigerator, add fruit/nuts, and then cover with more chocolate.
- Using cupcake papers, put fruit/nuts on top of slightly cooled chocolate.
Let cool. Enjoy!
Remember to store in the refrigerator and for best flavor, eat within a week of creation.
Tip: You can gently warm hardened chocolate if it cools before you pour it all out.
Monarda is an intuitive folk herbalist, fermentologist, tea maker, storyweaver and educator. She has been studying herbalism and fermentation since 2007, launching the Wild Farmacy Project, Tea for the People and the Driftless Herbal Exchange Network in that time. She has found a passion for empowering folks to make the best medicine for themselves. Her educational focus is making traditional herbal techniques and practices more accessible for people, so that they can practice herbal crafts in their own homes. Her work is cross-pollinated with story-telling, social and environmental permaculture, spiritual herbalism, and healing justice.
You can follow her work at: