Whether you have religious beliefs or not, there is a common theme of 'new beginnings' signified by Easter. April is often the time where new goals are made, new job roles are taken, new babies are conceived or birthed, and change is in the air. This can be exciting or exhausting, depending on what is going on for you. Either way, it's a great opportunity to re-assess, make changes, and put things in place for exciting new beginnings to occur. And at this point, nothing is more important than laying the foundations for a healthier you. The healthier you are, the more likely you will thrive and enjoy any new opportunities that come your way.
Easter is also a time of indulgence for some, so getting a fine balance between healthy habits and indulgence is key. Why not make your own Easter eggs or chocolate this year? It's a great activity to do as a family as well. If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and so on, then what better way is there to spend quality time together and teach them about how to make their own chocolate?
Our little boy is very sensitive to gluten and doesn't tolerate dairy well either. As parents, we don't want him to miss out on eating chocolate, but at the same time we don't want the focus to only be on eating chocolate. Each year, we create a family Easter hunt where we have lots of games, and they have to solve and follow all the clues until they reach the end. It helps the kids (big and small) work together as a team, enhances family bonding, creates so much laughter and helps the kids learn about the real meaning of Easter (whatever that may mean for you). By making our own Easter eggs, we know exactly what is in the eggs, can make them dairy free so our son doesn't miss out, teaches the kids about ingredients, and teaches the children the importance of health. They also have to eat a carrot before they get to eat their chocolate!
Making your own chocolate is not difficult. We have a Thermomix so whipping up a batch of chocolate literally takes a few minutes. We then pour them into Easter molds and wait for them to set. Here is our basic chocolate formula to try for yourself. If you don't have a Thermomix, you can easily do this on the stove top.
Basic Chocolate Formula
*Makes just over 300g of chocolate (depending on additions)*
- 300g raw cacao butter (I like buttons as you don't need to chop them up)
- 40-80g raw cacao powder
- 30-70g sweetener (honey, maple syrup, rice malt extract, coconut nectar)
- 1-2tsp vanilla bean powder or natural extract
- 4-6 pinches of ground sea salt
Additions (to make it even more yummy!)
- Dried fruit (for example, cranberries, sour cherries, figs, chilli)
- Berries – can use frozen (such as raspberries), fresh or dried berries (like goji berries)
- Nuts (ideally activated)
- Nut butters
- Coconut – fresh, desicated, shredded, flaked, toasted
- Fillings – such as chocolate ganache, caramel or baked strawberries
- Double chocolate – such as choc chips, grated chocolate or cacao nibs
- Essential oil flavours – such as peppermint or orange
- Fruit juice flavours or zest – such as orange or lemon
- Spices – such as cinnamon or nutmeg
- Add cacao butter to the Thermomix and grate for 6 seconds (speed 8). (If using a block of cacao butter, then chop / grate it into flakes or chunks before adding to the Thermomix bowl).
- Scrape down sides with spatula and then melt for 12 minutes / 45C / Speed 3 (you may need to stop it half way and scrape down sides).
- Add cacao powder, sweetener, vanilla and salt. Mix for 8 minutes / 40C / Speed 3.
- Pour into molds or into a tray lined with baking paper, and place flat in the fridge to set. Add your extras either before you pour into molds or sprinkle on top afterwards.
- Once set, pop them out of molds or cut / break into bite-sized pieces.
- To make softer, ganache-like chocolate, add 50-70g coconut cream (put coconut cream in fridge and use the thick cream that rises to the top). You could also use this as a filling.