Text and images : Samyutka Kartik
As human beings, our hands have always been some of our most powerful assets! We were given these two nifty tools to climb, pluck, and peel. Let’s go back to the basics for a second: I like to think that before anything truly ‘handmade’ is given any shape or form, it is crafted in the studio of the mind. In my grandmother’s times, people would walk to the store and buy their own potatoes to make homemade chips from scratch – no additives, artificial flavouring, and whatnot; this was enjoyed as an occasional, special treat! The reason I say this, is because that charm of slow, mindful eating is often lost on us as a collective society. While it is heartening to see an increasing number of people making informed food choices, we could all benefit much more from embracing the innate connection between the human body and nature.
The truth is, in the ecology of food there is no better designer than nature herself. Teaming up with nature to produce food for the soul, is infinitely more exciting to me than the practice of using mindless machines in an industry that prioritises convenience over authenticity, and profits over health. To me, food means much more than just something to eat; it’s a catalyst for a cause I care deeply about. This wild passion for it began two years ago, when I changed my diet and lifestyle to one that is free from animal-derived products. This meant giving up dairy, and approaching food with a very different lens. With this sudden interest in the benefits of plant-based eating, what started out as a mere act of substitution grew rapidly into something far more conscious.
Here’s the thing - when I’m at a grocery store, there’s no getting by without having to squint into ingredient labels; omitting many products along the way. Only when I started to pay attention to these labels did I realize how sugar-loaded, dairy-dominated, and heavily processed everything was in this industry. Excessive amounts of sugar, emulsifiers, preservatives, and all sorts of “permitted”, strange numbers and chemicals, everywhere. It really pushed me to start exploring ways of designing food to be more simple and handcrafted.
One of these explorations led me to the idea of artisanal desserts. I never really thought of myself to be much of a ‘foodie’ but dessert was always my thing, and chocolate my biggest weakness. Reese’s peanut butter cups were my favourite at one point, and I just knew I had to re-create it. It could not have been easier to turn that ‘weakness’ into a strength! With a little bit of research, a little bit of shopping, and a little bit of time on my hands, I was able to craft a very healthy version of this without compromising on its beautiful taste! ↓
It only requires 4 ingredients:
½ cup Raw Cacao Powder*
½ cup Organic Cold-pressed Coconut Oil
2 tbsp Coconut Sugar (or any sweetener)**
1 tbsp Organic Peanut Butter
Optional: Nuts / Dry Fruit for garnishing
* Organic Raw Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, unlike its cocoa counterpart, which is made by roasting in high temperatures— killing most of the nutrients in the process. Cacao powder is known to be the richest source of antioxidants and magnesium. I know Cacao powder isn’t exactly easy to come by but if you do decide to buy it online, I promise it’s worth the trouble. In the meantime, it's absolutely fine to use Cocoa powder instead for this recipe, since it’s much more readily available.
** The making of Coconut Sugar starts with a laborious process of harvesting or "tapping" the blossoms of a coconut tree, and by evaporating the sap that is collected. As one of the lower glycemic index sweeteners and with a similar taste to soft brown sugar, Coconut Sugar is highly nutritious, ecologically beneficial, and provides sustained energy. This can be purchased in most organic shops.
Keep aside 10 small silicone moulds (or paper cupcake liners). If you’re using silicone moulds, it helps to pre-freeze them and get them nice and cold in the freezer.
Using a double boiler (i.e., a small saucepan placed directly on top of a vessel containing boiling water), start by heating up the coconut oil.
Once the oil is mildly warm, start adding the cacao powder and coconut sugar, and stir till the sugar dissolves.
Make sure you're stirring the mixture slowly but continuously. Don't let it boil.
The mixture will be very watery, that's okay. Take it off the stove and start pouring into the small, cold silicone moulds, 1/4th of the way. Not the whole cup.
Pop them in the freezer for about 5 minutes until they’re solid (coconut oil freezes very quickly).
With your hands, roll out tiny balls of peanut butter and spread on top of the chocolate cups, and press down gently.
Pour the remaining chocolate mixture on top, until the peanut butter is fully covered, and put the moulds back into the freezer so the chocolate can set!
A good time to add your garnishing would be when it’s just about half frozen (roughly 5 minutes), so make sure to keep checking on it.
Give the cups at least 20 minutes to freeze thoroughly, and when you’re ready to try them out, just pop them out of the moulds. They should slip out very easily!
This melts quickly so it’s best stored in the freezer, and will keep for upto three months or more.
some more handmade yummy for your eyes:
Samyukta Kartik is a vegan chef, food stylist, and photographer. She shares most of her work with food on her Instagram.