I've been buying a lot of strawberries of late as I'm weaning my 8 month old son Jasper onto solids and he just loves fruit. Of course I'm delighted he has a healthy palate already!, but I'm also conscious of the amount of sugar he's getting, albeit naturally occurring sugars. Berries are a great low sugar fruit option for anyone wanting to reduce their sugar intake though, and are often recommended to those with a risk of, or with diabetes, because of their low sugar content, as well as their low Glycemic Load (GL). You may have heard of glycemic index before (GI) which measures the increase in blood sugar levels after eating. The glycemic load however takes into account the portion size as well. For example your blood sugar levels will rise differently if you eat one banana or if you eat five bananas, so the GL is always a better measure to look out for.
It might be hard to believe that berries have a low sugar content when you think about how sweet they are, but check this out. Blueberries have 7.3g of sugar per 100g, blackberries 8.1g and strawberries just 5.8g. Whereas bananas have 15.6g sugar per 100g, pineapple 11.9g and mangoes 14.8g. You can find more information on the sugar content of fruit here.
A little tip if you happen to love all fruit though (like me!). Try eating it with some nut butter as it helps slow down the sugar release. This means you don't get that 'sugar rush', and so don't feel the need to immediately go back for another round. It also tastes great!
With all of that said, I'm not not going to be giving Jasper any of these raw strawberry creams just yet. Apart from the fact that he's only just starting to try proper food (and so I'm limiting this to vegetables, whole grains and a little organic chicken and eggs for now), I'm also saving these bad boys for myself ;)
Other than all of the health benefits from the strawberries, these chocolates are beyond delicious! Seriously. I actually think they're the best raw chocolates I've made to date and I'm just dying to make another batch already. So I do need to say thank you to Vanessa (Ness) Vickery of becomingness as this is her recipe tweaked to my liking. She has some really great recipes on her site, so if you haven't visited it, check it out!
If you decide to try these out - and I really hope you do - here are a few tips:
- I made mine in my very expensive heart shaped chocolate moulds which I'd really recommend buying (£1.50 from Amazon!). You could easily make yours in ice cube trays though (silicone ones would be best but I think they'd pop out quite well from most trays), or mini cup cake cases. Personally I love the look the mould gives you and I've already ordered some new shapes for my next batch!
- If you don't have cacao butter you could use coconut oil instead. Just be aware it melts at a lower temperature so if you do use oil, store the chocolates in the freezer instead of the fridge and take them out 10 minutes before serving. I also find cacao butter has a better (more chocolatey) texture and taste so would always use that as a preference
- The longer you leave your strawberry filling in the freezer the firmer it will be. It won't solidify completely though so you could do this the day before, or even keep some stored in the freezer in an air tight container for when you fancy making some chocolates and want to cut down on time
- Depending on the size of your strawberries and chocolate moulds you may have some strawberry filling and chocolate left over (happy days!). If you do, you have three options:
- 1. Eat the leftover mix straight up (yum)
- 2. Throw it away (haha only kidding, this is NOT an option!)
- 3. Make a raw strawberry cream sandwich. A what?! Yup, a raw strawberry cream sandwich. Line a small tray or tupperware pot with baking parchment (choose a tray that is small enough to fit half of your left over chocolate in without it spreading too thin). Pour half of the chocolate into it and set in the freezer (10-30 mins depending on the thickness). Add your remaining strawberry filling on top and spread it out with the back of a spoon but so it doesn't quite reach the edges, then pour your remaining chocolate on top. You can also dot it with any leftover macadamias then set it in the fridge (or freezer if you're using coconut oil). When it's set break it up into pieces and enjoy!
Raw Strawberry Creams
Makes 30 chocolates and a small sandwich (see paragraph above for instructions)
- 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, topped and quartered
- 1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts (cashews would also work)
- 1 tbsp organic maple syrup (raw honey or rice malt syrup would also work)
- 1/2 tsp coconut oil, melted
- 2/3 cup cacao butter, melted (or coconut oil)
- 2/3 cup raw cacao powder
- 2-3 tbsp sweetener of choice (start with 2 tbsp and add more if you like your chocolate sweeter. I used 1 tbsp maple syrup and 1 heaped tbsp raw honey)
- Small pinch of salt
- Put the ingredients for your strawberry filling into the blender and whiz up until smooth, then pop it in the freezer while you make your chocolate. Simples!
- For the chocolate, melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water (i.e. water from a boiled kettle). Make sure the bowl isn't touching the water so the cacao butter melts, but doesn't go above 34 degrees C. This means it will stay 'raw' and therefore maintain all of its nutrients
- Remove the bowl from the heat (I put mine onto a tea towel so it soaks up any condensation and doesn't slip), then mix in your cacao powder, sweetener and salt until well combined and you have a nice thick chocolate mixture
- Now this is the important bit. Dip your finger into the chocolate and taste! Everyone likes their chocolate a little different, so taste it and add more sweetener if its needed. Remember to start with less as you can always add but you can't take it away!
- Half fill each mould with chocolate (there's no need to grease the moulds as once the chocolate has set they'll just pop out), then place the tray in the freezer to set for 10 minutes
- Using a teaspoon and your little finger, place a small dollop of strawberry cream in the middle of each chocolate. And don't worry if your first one's a mess - it always is, and that's the one you can eat as soon as it's set for taste testing!
- Pour the rest of the chocolate on top and pop the whole thing in the fridge (if you're using cacao butter) or freezer (is using coconut oil) to set (approx. 1-2 hours)
- When set pop the chocolates out of the mould and store them in an air tight container until serving. That's if you haven't eaten then all already!
These magical hearts of deliciousness are so simple to make and are guaranteed to wow anyone you give them to. They're a great snack for little people (toddlers, not babies) as they have only naturally occurring sugars in them as well as lots of antioxidants (from the strawberries and cacao), and are a wonderful and thoughtful gift for loved ones.
And come on, who on earth makes their own chocolates?!
- Sugar content of fruit: http://thepaleodiet.com/fruits-and-sugars/
- Glycemic load: http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/food-to-eat/nutrition/what-do-glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-mean
- Original recipe: http://www.becomingness.com.au/blog/raw-strawberry-chocolates