A couple of months ago now (time flies – it’s scary!), the lovely Neal’s Yard girls invited me to a superfood spectacular event at Neal’s Yard Wild Juicery in Covent Garden, which involved a Wild Chocolate Workshop. Being a lover of Neal’s Yard, their PR team, superfoods and raw chocolate, tell me how could I say no?! I was excited to go along as I knew this was part of Wild Food Cafe, where I had savoured some tasty morsels of raw-licious food on a summer’s day a couple of years ago.
Raw Chocolate Workshop at Wild Juicery
Upon arrival, we were handed a scrumptious Wild Juicery special cocktail, made with Rum, raw chocolate and rose water with a sprinkling of rose petals for good measure.
Before we got down and dirty with the raw chocolate one of the owners, Joel Gazdar, gave us a little introduction to the origins of his passion for all things raw. The shop not only has raw chocolate, but an array of raw foods including freshly made juices and smoothies, supplements such as cleansing greens, rather superb olives and several nut and seed products, one of which I purchased on the night – Wildtella – “A lush & naughty raw chocolate, sprouted hazelnut and superfood spread.”
Joel passed us round a cocoa pod, the fruit of the cocoa plant inside which you will find the cocoa nuts. It is the nuts that are used to make the raw chocolate we used to make our chocolates.
Next Attila decanted from the main cacao stash, this triggered a mini Charlie & the Chocolate Factory reminisce in my mind and like Veruca Salt I very much wanted it now! I imagined dipping my finger in just for a little satiation however I resisted my urges and patiently waited for the moment when we’d get to savour the flavour.
There was an assortment of truffle fillings to choose from for our chocolate covered candies – nuts, seeds, dried fruits, fresh pomegranate seeds.
I opted for pomegranate seeds, dried apricot, almonds, chopped hazelnuts and raw cacao nibs. I decided to make a few plain ones because I was convinced the raw chocolate was going to be devilishly delightful – I was not mistaken!
The time to pour the chocolatey goodness into the mould came. As you can see I made a few splodges but I was certainly not the messiest in the group! Once the tray was filled we put them in the fridge for a while whilst we continued our mingling. It was great to hang out with Nic and Jane from Neal’s Yard Remedies and also to meet for the first time Yanar Alkayat who as well as being an award-winning journalist writes the fabulous blog A Brighter Shade of Green – I love the name!
Whilst waiting for our very own truffles to set, we got adventurous on our journey through chocolate at Wild Juicery. We dipped an assortment of edibles into the remains of the chocolate, we left some to set but also had a little nibble as we simply couldn’t bear to wait any longer. The two most unusual, and in my opinion the most flavoursome, were blood orange segments and….. olives. I adore olives (I’m definitely a savoury girl over sweet!) and the combination of the salty olives with the rich, luscious chocolate, well it blew my tastebuds away!
Once out of the chiller, it was time to turn out the chocolates. I wasn’t sure if mine were set enough and therefore if they would exit the mould all in one piece. The chocolate still looks like it could be finger-dippingly good (see below pic!)
However, I had nothing to fear. I’d created beautiful heart-shaped artisan raw chocolate truffles with my very own delicious fillings. Two days before Valentine’s Day – perfect timing if you ask me!
The Health Benefits of Raw Cacao
Raw cacao has many health benefits. It is a good source of the following nutrients –
- Magnesium, and other essential minerals including calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese
- Polyphenols called flavonoids, with antioxidant properties
- Vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, E
- Oleic acid; a monounsaturated fat essential for heart health
Because of this wealth of nutrients, raw cacao may be useful for the following –
- addressing high blood pressure and poor circulation; flavonoids, theobromine and other molecules within cacao may help to lower blood pressure and improve circulation as they increase the strength and health of blood vessels
- improving heart health; with powerful antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals, raw cacao can improve the blood flow, lower LDL cholesterol and reduce plaque build-up on artery walls
- protecting against free radical damage; with such high levels of antioxidants, raw cacao can protect against free radicals release via UV exposure, pollution, toxins and stress
- digestive issues; the fibre in cacao supports the digestive process was cacao stimulates the body’s production of digestive enzymes
- balance the body and mind; certain chemicals in cacao work towards this including theobromine which stimulates the central nervous system, relaxes muscles and dilates blood vessels, which gives a boost of energy, whilst other chemicals trigger the release of serotonin in the brain – the happy hormone!
Thanks to Neal’s Yard Remedies for inviting me along and to Wild Juicery for such a super night, it was a lot of fun as well as really informative!