Vegan Salted Chocolate Cashews – Going, Going …

FB963C8C-1363-40DC-A04A-3BC4D64FE136A quick post to tell all you raw chocolate lovers that my favourite Raw Chocolate Company has just brought out these raw chocolate smiles which they’ve called Vanoffee Salted Smoochies! All I can say is yum, yum, yum!! They are so smooth, lightly salted and still have a bite (often cashews go soft when used commercially).

If you like the idea, you have to hurry: these are a special edition, produced to gauge customer reaction and as of this afternoon only 20 bags left!

If enough of us give positive feedback and tell them how gorgeous they are (and the cashews ;-:) they may just bring them back permanently and in a swish new pouch to replace their basic temporary one. They really deserve some new clothes.

A note of caution, these are just as addictive as their Vanoffee Mulberries!

Raw Vanoffee Chocolate has a lightly malted flavour and is so smooth and ‘creamy’ on the tongue.

It was described by one of the Dragons on Dragon’s Den as the best chocolate he’d ever tasted.

All The Raw Chocolate Company products are Vegan, Organic, Gluten-free, Kosher and Sustainably Sourced. They use coconut blossom sugar, not refined sugar, and unlike with palm oil, no trees are felled. They are dairy-free, additive-free and unlike commercial dairy chocolate, raw chocolate contains lots of nutrients.

Full disclosure: Although my family has had a long association with the company and its founder, since before its inception, I always buy the products and am not requested or paid to review them. I buy them because I love them, it’s the only chocolate I eat.

This review is purely selfish: I want more Vanoffee Salted Smoochies!

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Ps There’s also New Vegan Chocky Cherries waiting to be tested. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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The Mood Booster: Raw Chocolate Mulberry, Banana & Walnut Smoothie

29666928_UnknownI was feeling a bit sorry for myself when I came downstairs, suffering horrible back pain, no sleep, gloomy sky, prospect of rain, drop in temperatures. I was also very hungry, having gone to bed early evening and not getting up until 14 hours later. That did it, I needed chocolate and I needed it fast. Chocolate? For breakfast? Absolutely!

Let me emphasise, we’re talking raw chocolate, not commercial sugar-laden, highly-processed chocolate.

Raw cacao is naturally mood-enhancing, anti-inflammatory, contains 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries, more absorbable calcium than cow’s milk, iron, zinc and heart-healthy magnesium, needed to prevent muscle cramps and depression, and for gut health – see link below.

I had recently bought a whole kilo, yes a KILO! of The Raw Chocolate Company raw chocolate mulberry chips and this was a good excuse to use some. These are tiny bits of dried mulberries covered in raw chocolate, great for sprinkling on desserts, making raw treats or in this case smoothies. They are vegan, gluten-free, dairyfree, organic.

The rest of the ingredients are also nutrient-dense: mineral-rich, B vitamins, omega oils, protein, Vitamin E, fibre, anti-inflammatory. The cinnamon helps control blood sugar spikes. All in all, a healthy, tasty breakfast or dessert.

Ingredients

(All amounts very approximate, I just chucked in a few of this and a handful of that, so I’m basically guessing!)

1 Banana

Small handful Walnut Pieces

2 Dried Figs, stem removed, chopped

2 Tbsps Raw Chocolate Mulberry Chips + A sprinkling for serving

2 Tbsps freshly ground Golden Linseeds

1 Heaped Tbsp Hemp Protein Powder

A good shake of ground Cinnamon.

Glass of homemade and chilled Almond Milk* or other nut milk/ Tiger Nut Milk**

*

Blend on fast for 40-60 seconds. Add more milk if you want it a little thinner.

Serve chilled. With a spoon!

Gorgeous.

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*Nut & Seed Milks & Smoothie Recipes

How to Make Cashew Nut Milk & Why You Should!

Horchata (aka Tiger Nut Milk)

Magnesium: Are You Getting Enough?

Copyright: Chris McGowan

 

How to Make Vegan Raw Chocolate Love Hearts & Mini Eggs

img_3122A bit late in the day, but better late than never, I hope! These were made with ingredients I won in a recent Raw Chocolate Company giveaway. We’re looking forward to having another go and substituting some of the ingredients, meanwhile these happily passed the taste test: husband and gardener friend (here to prune trees and replace broken flags) demolished them and gave them their seal of approval. (Gardener took some home for his wife!)

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My prize:

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We began with a basic recipe by Eighty20Nutrition but halved the amount, changed the nuts and greatly reduced the amount since they were chopped – we didn’t need as many as the whole pistachios in the original recipe – we also added vanilla. I would have used almond butter instead of tahini but didn’t have enough. Next time.

We also thought we might use Goldenberries next time, they are a bit tart and very fruity. You could also try dried sour cherries or cranberries (I like them infused with apple juice).

For those of you who like to spice it up, you could add a little chilli powder.

So here’s how we did it – all organic where possible, measurements very approximate, substitute like for like where you wish.

Vegan & Gluten-Free.

Ingredients

120g Cacao Butter*

About 50g Sweet Apricot Kernels,* finely chopped but not ground (you could use almonds or any other nuts)

 1/4 Cup Cacao Powder*

75g Dried Mulberries*, lightly broken up if using small moulds (reserve 1/4 Cup whole ones for the end)

150g Tahini or Almond Butter

1/4 Tsp Organic Vanilla Extract

3/4 (three-quarters) Tbsp Maple Syrup

 Method

Place the tub of cacao butter in hot water until it starts melting (you can also use cacao butter buttons). Slide it out and break up until you have the amount you need, in this case, half a tub.

Place a Pyrex bowl over a pan of hot, but not boiling, water and slowly melt the cacao butter.

When completely melted, add the remaining ingredients except the reserved mulberries, stirring until mixed in.

Blend until smooth with a stick blender.

Fold in the remaining mulberries and if setting flat in a tray some larger pieces of nuts – pistachios work well.

img_3126Spoon into silicone moulds or into a baking tray and refrigerate for a couple of hours until set. Cut into slices if set in a tray.

(The moulds are inexpensive, we found ours on Amazon).

Best eaten from the fridge as home-made chocolate melts quicker than commercial chocolate.

They also keep in the freezer.

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We made 15 hearts and 20 mini egg halves, which have gone into the freezer for Easter.

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See also further raw chocolate recipes in these posts:

 Food Matters’ ‘One Minute Slice’ Raw Chocolate Protein Bars

This Valentine’s Day Scrooge is Spreading the Love!

Fill Your Easter Basket with Home Made Vegan Raw Chocolate Eggs

Raw Treats – Recipes

*The Raw Chocolate Company

Copyright: Chris McGowan

This Valentine’s Day Scrooge is Spreading the Love!

It’s Valentine’s Day next week and it’s a day we usually avoid like the plague. I am a Valentine’s Day scrooge!

As an adult I see the prices of flowers inflate as the day approache; as a teenager I remember the anxiety of wondering if anyone would like me enough to send me a card and the agony of going to school to hear endless screeches and laughter at the often rude sometimes soppy cards my friends had received – often not just one but two or three – while I just mumbled that the post hadn’t arrived before I left for school.

But a post by Pioneering the Simple Life about Home-made Valentines past got me rethinking my stance. All our birthday, Christmas, anniversary, condolence, congratulations cards are home-made when possible, but we always give Valentine’s Day a miss.

However, love isn’t just the romantic kind. So, this year on St Valentine’s Day, why not spread some family love? It would be fun to ferret out the felt, the card, the glue and scissors and spend some time playing. It’s been a while.

So I did.

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I drew, cut out and glued foam hearts on sticks leftover from making children’s mobiles and arranged them in a glass jug. I made vanilla and almond raw chocolate hearts, stars and chunks.* (I’m calling it Vanutte! See my Raw Treats – Recipes).

Cards were also made to send to the other family members who wouldn’t be visiting. It was great fun and took my mind off aches and pains, worries and weather!

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You can use all sorts of everyday household materials – have a look at Pioneering the Simple Life and Scribbleartie for ideas. For the cards I used some felt I bought for a previous project some time ago, but you can use card, foil, shapes made from leftover wrapping paper, string and ribbon – I save everything for moments like this!

Give it a go, find your inner child – or just borrow a real one! – and get sticking and colouring and baking and making. Share your love with those close to you, whether family, partner, friend or someone who just needs to know they are not alone and forgotten.

Love isn’t just for Valentine’s Day! Make it personal any time of the year.

Everyone benefits.

In the words of Jason Mraz: ‘When you love someone, it all comes back to you.’

With lots of love,

Chris x

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*Basic recipe on the back of  The Raw Chocolate Company Raw Cacao Powder and Coconut Palm Sugar packs.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Raw Chocolate-Covered Orange & Vine-Fruit Slices

img_3091I realised we still had a large bag of mixed vine fruit and an open bag of Sweet Apricot Kernels left over from Christmas and as we were making almond milk and would have the pulp to use up, I decided to combine the two. My husband kindly donated the Raw Chocolate Company Goji and Orange bar from his Selection Box* for the topping and we made it extra orangey with some fresh orange juice and zest.

You could substitute the almond milk pulp for any other nut milk pulp or even use finely ground nuts and/or seeds, it will alter the flavour a little and you may have to adjust the amount of liquid.

The vine fruits can be substituted with any mix of chopped dried fruit, I would have liked apricots but we didn’t have any. Again, it will slightly alter the taste.

The Sweet Apricot Kernels can be substituted with chopped almonds or other nuts.

 Vegan, Gluten-Free and Organic where possible.

All quantities very approximate.

Ingredients

1 Cup Almond Nut Milk Pulp

1/2 C Sweet Apricot Kernels, roughly chopped

2 Cups Mixed Vine Fruits

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

2 Tbsps Shelled Hemp Seeds

Juice and Zest of 1 Small Orange, washed, reserve a little for the topping

1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 Tbsp Melted Cacao Butter (about 5-6 cacao butter buttons)

22g bar of The Raw Chocolate Company Goji and Orange Raw Chocolate melted with 2 cacao butter buttons (about a tsp) + a tsp of Orange Juice

A Square of a 22g bar of The Raw Chocolate Company Orange Raw Chocolate, grated (it’s up to you what you do with the remainder, I won’t tell if you don’t;-))

More Orange Zest for topping

Method

Add all the main ingredients to the food processor up to the melted cacao butter and process until it comes together, scraping down and restarting a few times.

img_3088Press firmly into a baking tin which has been lightly oiled with a little melted cacao butter.

Place in the fridge to firm up a little.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and cacao butter over a pan of hot but not boiling water. Add a little orange juice.

Remove the tray from the fridge and drizzle or cover the fruit img_3090mixture with the chocolate and grate a little orange zest and orange raw chocolate all over. Put back in the fridge for a few minutes.

When firm and the chocolate set, slice carefully and enjoy.

Will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

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Relaxing with James Arthur, my favourite green tea with jasmine in my new oversized cup and a raw slice treat or two. The chocolate bar is just for the photo, honest!

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See Raw Treats – Recipes and Raw Chocolate Recipes in the menu for more raw treats.

The Raw Chocolate Company

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Raw Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding Bites

img_2454I put a picture of these on Instagram as soon they were ready so as to have a record of the ingredients until I had time to write them down – it was a very busy day in terms of administration, phonecalls etc – and I very swiftly received a message saying ‘early!’ So I’m holding back this post for a couple of weeks, I don’t want to spook the horses (but as I write, we are only 5 weeks away and preparation is everything!)

We’ve used leftover almond nut pulp, but you can use alternative milk pulp or if you have a nut allergy, use ground sunflower seeds or similar, it will alter the flavour slightly . (See How To Make Almond Milk for the nutritional benefits of almonds).

These are healthy raw treats, full of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fibre and protein and contain no refined sugar.

Some people may find the golden berries a little tart, you can substitute for more gojis or dried apricots. See also Choco Almond Truffles for a sweeter version with coconut and maple syrup.

Ingredients

1 Cup Almond Milk Pulp, squeezed dry (or any other nut/tiger nut pulp or ground sunflower seeds)

1/2 Cup Raisins

1/4 Cup Goji Berries, soaked in a few drops of the orange juice*

1/4 Cup Golden Berries*

1/4 Cup Dried Mulberries*

Juice and zest 1 1/2 small Mandarin Oranges

1 Tbsp Cacao Powder*

1 Tbsp Melted Raw Cacao Butter (4 Pulsin’ Cacao Butter Buttons)

Blend all of the above in a food processor until it will come together and roll into balls.

Roll into balls and place in the fridge to firm up while you prepare the topping.

For the raw chocolate topping:

Melt approx. 1/3 bar of Pitch Dark or Orange Raw Chocolate*

with 2 Pulsin’ Cacao Butter Buttons (about 1 Tsp melted)

and a squeeze of the remaining mandarin orange

(do this in a bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water)

Dip the balls in the melted chocolate and top with a goji berry moistened with a drop of orange juice.

Leave to set and keep in an airtight container in the fridge.

*https://www.therawchocolatecompany.com/

http://www.pulsin.co.uk/

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Taste-Testing The New Tiger Nut Company Raw Chocolate Bar: Does It Roaarrr! or Does It Whimper?

As many of you will know from previous posts, I love homemade horchata or tiger nut milk. It is a sweet and creamy plantbased alternative to dairy milk and so very good for you. Tiger nuts are also a good nutfree alternative for all those allergic to nuts as they are in fact small tubers. (You can also buy tiger nut flour).

As you will also know, we are big fans of raw chocolate in our family: we use cacao in our smoothies, in our porridge, in our raw baking and of course we eat raw chocolate bars.

So, how happy am I that The Tiger Nut Company* has just brought out their first raw chocolate bar made with tiger nuts and cacao?! When I placed my order for tiger nuts the other day – calamities, I didn’t know we’d run out so no horchata this week! – the lovely Ani sent me a bar to try and as I write she is anxiously awaiting my review, knowing how much we love raw chocolate!

 I won’t keep her waiting any longer, I hope this will put her out of her misery and I’ll post as quickly as I can.

img_6316When I received the bar, our daughter’s family were visiting and there was no way I could have shared it between us all so I had to be disciplined and refrain from trying it until today. I had almost forgotten about it and then when I was nigh on knee-deep in Christmas (yes, it’s for overseas) and birthday wrapping paper, I felt I needed a break and the lightbulb went on! HB was doing a bike repair, so the coast was clear! (He’s a chocolate fiend).

The first thing you notice is the presentation: the crushed tiger nuts are pressed into the top of the chocolate rather than mixed in which is usually the case with nutty chocolate. It sets the bar apart, makes it visually arresting. The second is how dark the chocolate is and how lovely and chunky. It’s a good size, 55g, and sectioned into 5 pieces which makes it easy to break up (and share if you’re so inclined).

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This bar has a lovely crisp snap when you break it and a satisfying bite to it that doesn’t threaten to break your teeth but makes you feel it is substantial.

There are all sorts of tastes and textures going on in this bar! Ani tells me the bars are sweetened with dates and lucuma (a South American fruit powder that has a malted taste). So no refined sugar.

The chocolate is very dark, it is 80% raw cacao, a little bitter like good quality dark chocolate (no milk, dairy or otherwise) and this is offset by the lightly malted taste of the lucuma powder. I used to love Maltesers many moons ago and the use of lucuma reminded me of them, though it is more subtle here. The chewy texture of crushed tiger nuts also contrasts with the smooth creaminess of the chocolate.

My husband came in while I was on my second piece and I offered him a piece to try. To my surprise, he hesitated, saying he was just about to make his lunch! Then he quickly changed his mind. His first reaction was that the tiger nuts tasted a little like sesame seeds but he’s not known for his sensitive palate and I don’t think I would agree with him. They don’t have such a distinctive taste and have a mild sweetness. Then he said the chocolate was very dark, which I do agree with. He decided he liked it.

After the second piece, I felt satisfied, I didn’t want to gobble up the whole 55g bar as so often with commercial chocolate where you tend to eat mindlessly. I enjoyed what I had and wanted to save the remainder.

Overall, we liked this new take on raw cacao chocolate bars. We also like that it is a healthy raw snack.

Foods that are described as ‘raw’ have not been heated over 42C and this means they retain their nutrients. Cacao is full of vitamins, minerals, omega fats, micronutrients and is regarded as a mood enhancer and good for the memory. Dates are naturally sweet and contain minerals and fibre. Lucuma is labelled a superfood by the health industry, while tiger nuts are prebiotic (good for gut health), and contain vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthy omega fats.

These bars are organic, which is something I wasn’t aware of until I asked, it isn’t mentioned in the main part of the packaging or in the title on the Shop page of the website (you have to read the full description), so I would suggest the company advertise this a little better as I for one positively seek out organic treats and reject those that aren’t.

Would I recommend them? Yes, they are a little different, healthy, satiating, smooth and tasty. They are handmade, vegan, glutenfree, paleo, nutfree, organic and contain no refined sugar. And the customer service is always excellent! Well done!

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Ps Theobromine in good quality dark chocolate is an effective treatment for dry coughs! If that isn’t a good enough reason to eat chocolate, I don’t know what is! 50-100g of dark chocolate is the recommended dose.

*https://www.thetigernutcompany.co.uk/

Copyrght: Chris McGowan

Simple Make-Your-Own Raw Chocolate: 3 Recipes for the Weekend

 

Raw Dark Vanutte Hearts, Flowers and Stars

A busy day today! Belatedly inspired to make some raw chocolate for Valentine’s Day, I devised not 1, not 2, but 3 recipes for different palates. They are very simple to make: once you’ve got the cacao butter melted and measured, it takes seconds to mix together and then all you need to do is pour and freeze.

For the first batch, we used the basic recipe on the back of The Raw Chocolate Company Cacao Powder & Coconut Palm Sugar then added a twist.

(We use their products because they are Organic, Raw, Fair Trade and Excellent Quality. Apart from the bars and cacao butter, most of their products come in Resealable Bags and the new packaging is Recyclable too!)

This version is very dark, coconut palm sugar is not like refined sugar, it is much more subtle. You may also want to grind it a little finer so that it blends more easily.

Remember, Raw Chocolate is very rich and you won’t eat as much at once as you would if it were commercial chocolate.

Note: As always, we tend to do things by eye and taste, so measurements are inevitably approximate.

First, cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper and have some small cookie shapes ready. Heat up some water to melt the cacao butter in a small bowl in order to measure it if it’s in a block or if it’s broken up into small pieces you can put it straight into the bowl with the cacao powder and coconut palm sugar.

Ingredients

90g Raw Cacao Butter

60g Raw Cacao Powder

60g Coconut Palm Sugar

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Approx 3 Tbsp Finely Chopped Raw Almonds (We actually forgot to measure. Just sprinkled them on!)

Method

Melt Cacao Butter and add to Cacao Powder and Coconut Palm Sugar in a bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water.

Stir until sugar is dissolved and everything is thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add Vanilla Extract and stir in well.

Pour into moulds on parchment-lined tray or directly onto parchment. If the latter, roll the tray around to make the chocolate spread.

Sprinkle with chopped almonds and lightly press into mixture.

Freeze until hard.

Carefully press out of moulds or break up the flat chocolate into pieces. It is best left in the freezer until required. We portion them up so we can just take out the amount we need and the chocolate doesn’t start melting while you break it up or sort out how much you want.

Vanutte Chunks

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Sweet Mulberry Raw Chocolate 

This second recipe is sweeter as it has raw maple syrup in, children might prefer it, although it is still dark.

As before, have some moulds ready on a parchment covered tray.

Ingredients

25mls Melted Raw Cacao Butter

15g Raw Cacao Powder

25mls Raw Maple Syrup

10g Cashew Pieces

10g Dried Mulberries, de-stalked and broken up

 Method

Mix together Cacao Butter, Maple Syrup and Cacao Powder in a bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water until well blended.

Mix in Cashews and Mulberries and pour or spoon mixture into moulds, or pour mix into moulds and add nuts and mulberries on top – this will probably give you more shapes, we did it the first way and it made the mixture very thick.

It only made about 6 small shapes that were quite thick, so adjust amounts accordingly if you have a lot of chocolatey mouths to fill!

Freeze and store as before. (They are on the right of the photo below – we tried one first!)

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Sweet ‘n’ Sour Raw Chocolate Chunks

Recipe Number 3 is also sweet and as there are so many different tastes in our family we thought we would cover all bases and add some sweet and sour dried fruit as well as the nuts to this one!

My husband loves raisins but the younger family members won’t eat them so he can have that row all to himself! I love dried Golden Berries, they have a sweetly tart flavour that I can’t resist, so there’s a row of those for me. In the middle are cashew pieces and dried mulberries.

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Ingredients

30mls Melted Cacao Butter

30mls Raw Maple Syrup

20g Raw Cacao Powder

Handful of Raisins

Handful Golden Berries

 Handful of Cashew Pieces

 Method as before, but pour onto parchment in a tray and roll around to spread it out, then sprinkle the other ingredients in rows to cover the whole area and press in lightly.

Freeze and store as before. (We were able to keep the rows separate once solid by gently using a knife in a sawing motion and then breaking them up).

With all these recipes you can add different flavours. Some like mint, orange – even chilli!

Ps Here’s a whimsical music video By Death By Chocolate. Enjoy!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Spicy Raw Hot Chocolate with Hemp Milk

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This recipe was born on a freezing wet British Friday in August! It is just the thing to curl up with on a chilly afternoon or evening now that it’s time once again to don the thermals and woolly pullies.

Warming and very chocolatey, this hot chocolate is made with Raw Cacao,  Hemp Milk and a touch of cinnamon, but you can opt for nutmeg, ginger or even chilli or cayenne if you’re feeling that way inclined! (You can of course use nut milk if you don’t have hemp seeds but it will have a different flavour).

Ingredients:

2 Cups Hemp Milk made with Raw Chocolate Company Shelled Hemp Seeds* (or any nut milk)
2 Tbsps Raw Chocolate Company Cacao Powder
2 Tsps Coconut Oil
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
3 Squares Raw Chocolate Company Pitch Dark and a little extra to grate on top
2 Tbsps Raw Chocolate Company Raw Coconut Palm Sugar

Method

You can do this 2 ways:
If you have a high speed blender, place all the ingredients in together and blend for about a minute. The blender will warm up the mixture so it is ready to drink straightaway.
If not, warm but don’t boil the Hemp Milk in a saucepan – it is best done from room temperature – and stir occasionally.
Add the warm milk to the rest of the ingredients and blend.
Grate some Pitch Dark over the top.

Makes enough to fill a huge Friends-type cup or 2 small mugs, so depending on how generous you’re feeling, curl up or cuddle up in front of the fire and unwind with Van the Man’s ‘Oh The Warm Feeling’ (youtube link: http://youtu.be/os9nt93BhqE) or better yet, find an episode of Friends (usually on Comedy Central) and remember what Friday evenings used to be like… Chandler, Joey, Frasier, Niles…

I feel a song coming on… ‘I’ll be there for you…’

Warning: A very few people are sensitive to cacao and are advised not to drink this on an empty stomach eg first thing in the morning.

This recipe first appeared on the Raw Chocolate Company Blog in an edited form.

*http://www.therawchocolatecompany.com/

Copyright:Chris McGowan