That’s me, by the way. I’m crazy because giving up sugar means no chocolate, sweet cakes or biscuits, no sweets, no ice cream, no anything processed which contains sugar. It’s going to be difficult. I always find the first week of Lent easy; I’m focused on giving up whatever and being ‘good’. It’s easy. Especially if you overdose on whatever it is on Shrove Tuesday so you really can’t stomach it again for a while. It was easy giving up chocolate several years ago because I could substitute with sweets and other such things. Not so easy this year when I can’t even do that.
I’ve been a True Chocolate Lover (I don’t like the term ‘chocoholic’: been there, done that, broke the t-shirt) for years and years. There was a period when chocolate, especially Maltesers, formed a major part of my diet, for good or ill. It was about this time when I began making truffles, and collecting recipe books dedicated purely to chocolate. I’ve even attempted to make my own chocolate, roasting cacao beans to start from scratch. I was rarely successful.
In amongst my collection of recipe books, I have one full of raw food chocolate recipes. The couple I’ve tested were both successful, although rather too expensive for me to make a habit of them. They might, though, provide a useful basis for making sugar-free chocolate this Lent. I’m doing my best to avoid the other sweeteners (I’m a glutton for punishment, me), so I can’t use the xylitol, agave syrup or yacon syrup which the raw foodists substitute for sugar.
My first attempt at chocolate involves double cream, cacao liquor, and vanilla essence. Very bitter. It’s good for people who like really dark chocolate. My friend, who provides an independent sort of opinion, says it’s good (she likes chocolate to be as dark as possible), “kind of dusty”; it’s a bit crumbly. So I take it away, melt it down, add some cacao butter, pour it out and return it to the fridge. Result: much less ‘dusty’. Still bitter, good with yogurt. Still can’t eat much at once, which is probably a good thing.
My problem is mostly that my palate is tuned more to sweeter chocolates, so I struggle a little with the bitterness. But never mind, if I want chocolate before Easter, I’m going to have to get used to bitter chocolate. At least it’s not got the powdery, grainy feel and texture of the chocolate I used to make when I used cacao powder instead of liquor.