Recipe: Homemade Chocolate (GAPS, Paleo)

February 8, 2013 · 57 comments

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The Mayans were the first civilization to cultivate the cocoa tree called Xocoatl. It is part of the Mayan and Aztec legends that the cocoa bean was a gift from the Gods. Cocoa beans were so important in Mayan civilization, they were also used as  currency. I can understand why. When you stop eating commercial chocolate and replace it with homemade chocolate from pure cacao butter and cacao powder, you really begin to appreciate the purity of this substance.

Pure Cacao Butter

Cocoa butter has a high content of saturated fats mainly derived from stearic and palmitic acids as well as mono-unsaturated fats from oleic acids. Cocoa butter is obtained from whole cacao beans, which are fermented, may or may not be roasted, and then separated from their hulls. About 54 – 58% of the residue is cocoa butter. The Broma process is a process by which the cocoa fat is dripped out of the solid mass leaving the cocoa powder separated out.

The purest chocolate comes from organic food grade cacao butter. This fatty component of chocolate is 100% fat and without the cacao powder, it is legal on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which allows no starches. Cacao butter imbues a mild chocolate flavor to any baked product. Many goodies can be made that are satisfying to chocolate lovers.

Pure Cacao Powder

Cocoa solids are the low-fat component of chocolate. They may also be called cocoa powder, cocoa, and cacao. Cocoa liquor is the melted combination of cocoa butter and cocoa solids. This is what most chocolate is made from.

Cocoa solids are what lends a chocolate bar its characteristic flavor and color, while cocoa butter is what provides smoothness and a low melting point. Cocoa solids contain most of the antioxidants associated with chocolate. Cocoa solids also contain the greatest concentration of the psychoactive chemicals caffeine and theobromine, which are mostly absent in the cocoa butter.

Physiological Effects of Cacao

There is a clear physiological reason for the love of chocolate. Raw cacao promotes the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and phenylethylamine, which elevate the mood. It also stimulates the secretion of endorphins — feel good hormones which also reduce pain. This can be dangerous for some people who have an imbalance in their physiology (or their gut) because it puts them at risk for an addiction to chocolate.

The combination of the caffeine energy burst and the release of serotonin can have a very powerful effect on the brain. You may know someone who needs to have chocolate every day because they need this lift.

Health Properties of Cacao

Raw cacao is touted as a rich source of antioxidant flavonoids and polyphenols that promote health and protect against toxins. The antioxidant flavonoids in raw cacao can help improve circulation, regular heartbeat and blood pressure. Additionally, they help the body resist free-radical damage.

Raw cacao is considered a superfood by some because it also has several other beneficial nutrients. It is a good source of manganese, magnesium and sulfur.

For the folks who are raw foodists, the issue of raw vs. roasted is important. Possibly there is more nutrition benefit in the form of minerals in the raw version. However, as chocolate should not be considered an everyday food, but rather a treat for special occasions I do not think the nutrient content in raw cacao as opposed to roasted will make much of a difference in your life. Frankly, I think the roasted may be better as it is may reduce the phytate content a bit.

As far as I know, all cacao is fermented before any other processing.

Stephan Guyenet has posted an interesting article about the Kuna Indians of Panama  who eat/drink cacao on a regular basis. There are several studies cited in this article in the International Journal of Medical Sciences that strongly suggest that the cacao drink that the Kuna daily drink may help to improve blood vessel function, lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to the brain which may aid in cognition and memory issues. The Kuna have unusually low rates of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

It is not clear if the Kuna cacao drink is made from raw or roasted cacao and that is something I would like to know.

Making Homemade Chocolate Can Be Very Simple

To avoid all the sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup (here and here), and other additives like soy lecithin, in commercial chocolate you can make your own at home very easily. It is simply a combination of cacao butter and cacao powder and a sweetener of your choice.

In this recipe I used honey (and stevia to reduce the honey content) because that will make it GAPS legal. If you would like to use maple syrup or some other natural sweetener, go right ahead — except for agave — read about why I never use agave, or sugar.

Be sure to purchase only organic, food grade, pure cacao butter and powder. If it is fair trade — even better. Check out why I never buy most fair trade commercial chocolate.

Finally, lets keep in mind that , as I said above, this should be considered a treat for special occasions — like Valentine’s Day.

Homemade Chocolate



  • Small pot
  • Whisk
  • 8 x 8 baking dish
  • Parchment cut to fit the bottom of the dish


  1. Gently melt the cocoa butter over a double boiler or on #2 in a small pot
  2. Remove from heat as soon as melted (if you leave too long it will get bitter)
  3. Add the honey (add stevia if using) and whisk well for a few minutes until it looks very smooth
  4. Whisk in the cocoa powder, getting out all the lumps until it looks very smooth
  5. Pour the chocolate into the baking dish and give a little shake to even out the edges
  6. Place in the refrigerator or freezer to harden for several hours
  7. When hard, remove from dish by cutting around the edge with a butter knife if necessary — it should slip out very easily
  8. Let get to room temperature and cut pieces with a large knife
  9. Store in the refrigerator

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Heat Time 2 – 3 minutes

This post is shared at: Melt in Mouth Monday, My Meatless Monday, Barnyard Hop, Meatless Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Hearth & Soul Hop, Tasteful Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Mommy Club, Whole Food Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Seasonal Celebration, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Creative Juice Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday. Keep It Real Thursday, Eat Make Grow, Gluten Free Friday, Fight Back Friday, Foodie friday


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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 vink February 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Hi Jill,
another great post. However in regard to your earlier post about why you do not buy Fair Trade Chocolate (commercial products) due to the presence of soy, etc. there is another very important reason to seek out Fair Trade cacao or commercial bars: all others are involved in using child slave labor. It may be shocking to many but it is absolutely true. By purchasing fair traded, organic, non-soy cacao and products we are supporting local (to the growing area) farmers who are not tricking children into working away from their families and then becoming prisoners of the deceitful and greedy farmers themselves and the Big Corp. owners who make inequitable profit for our “addiction” to chocolate candy. Mtn. Rose Herbs and others do source Fair Trade cacao and there are now more and more small chocolate companies making better quality products although many continue to use soy lecithin.
This is a welcome post because many people in the WAPF, GAPS, and paleo communities will now begin to make their own chocolate which can be much less sweet on the one hand but tons sweeter on the other because they will not be contributing to child slavery. Thank you.


2 Jill February 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Hi Vink,
Thanks for the clear explanation about the benefit of fair trade. I did amend the title on that post just for this reason.


3 Tam February 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Thanks for the great recipe! I wanted to type something yesterday about your post on chocolate but didn’t have time. Lindt 90% has long been my favorite. It has the BEST flavor and I feel slightly better purchasing it than other standard chocolate brands. From the research I have done, Lindt (and their parent company) seem to be aware and active in preventing human slavery. Although they are not ‘fair trade certified’, they have been cooperative with Fair Trade advocates who seek to expose the corruption of the chocolate industry (far more so than corporations like Mars). Not that you can take a company’s word on it’s own, but here is a link on their site that at least acknowledges the problem:
Can’t wait to try your recipe!


4 Jill February 9, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Thanks so much for commenting — I love the Lindt 90% as well and now that you commented on the fair trade issue I feel better about buying it. Thanks for the link!


5 Rachel Ramey February 11, 2013 at 9:59 am

Thank you!! I have literally been wondering (on and off) for YEARS how to make chocolate-as-we-know-it from scratch.


6 Renee K February 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Yum! Thanks for the recipe. Stevia is not GAPS legal however so probably best to note that it needs to be left out for those who want to make the recipe for GAPS.


7 Simplee Sue February 12, 2013 at 9:45 am

Thank you for the great info. I never thought about making my own chocolate.

We may have met by chance…,but we become friends by choice.


8 Lisa February 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I love the idea about making my own chocolate. It would be a great treat for my children without all of the additives. This is my first time visiting your blog. I am coming over to visit from Melt in Your Mouth Monday. Please stop by and link this up with my “Try a New Recipe Tuesday.” I’d love to have you join us. :-)


9 Ceci February 14, 2013 at 5:03 am

I so enjoy your blog and your recipes. I am writing to tell you of Theo, a Seattle company which makes wonderful chocolate which is both ORGANIC and FAIR TRADE and, more importantly, FAIR FOR LIFE. It is also made WITHOUT SOY LECITHIN. Check them out at I’m sorry I can’t figure out how to make this a link. We buy all our chocolate from them since we can no longer buy other chocolates which we know will not commit to practices without slavery. I cannot eat chocolate which was brought to me via someone else’s enslavement. Please check out Theo and other fair trade and Fair For Life chocolates. Enjoy chocolate which is not bought with someone else’s blood or freedom.
I am so looking forward to making chocolate following your recipe. Thank you for posting it and for being open to the discussion of fair trade chocolate. And believe me: Theo’s chocolates are GOOD. this is very fine chocolate as well as clean and fair chocolate. And if you are ever in town, they offer tours of their factory complete with many samples. Yum.


10 Jill February 14, 2013 at 7:58 am

Thanks for your comments! Theo has been mentioned in other comments and I will certainly try them!


11 Judy @Savoring Today February 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm

At Christmas we finally got away from making candies with chocolate that had ingredients I considered a compromise and made our own chocolates, though the tempering was certainly a crazy experience. Thanks for this recipe and thanks for sharing on Hearth & Soul Hop. :)


12 Kathy @ Mind Body and Sole February 14, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Thank you for sharing your chocolate recipe on Wildcrafting Wednesday. It’s so nice to have chocolate that’s WAPF friendly! :)


13 Angie February 15, 2013 at 4:30 pm

I love this!!! I can’t wait to try it!! – Thank you so much.
I’m stopping by from Foodie Friday blog hop.


14 Diane Balch February 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I can’t image how fresh and wonderful this chocolate must be… and I personally enjoy the wonderful effects of chocolate on my mood. Thank you again for another informative post.


15 Miz Helen February 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I am really glad to have this recipe! Hope you are having a great Valentine weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen


16 Cindy (Vegetarian Mamma) February 20, 2013 at 9:44 pm

You always have the best posts! :) Seriously!! ;)
Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :)

Thanks for linking back to the Gluten Free Fridays post!

Cindy from


17 Karen February 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Thank you so much for this recipe! I can’t wait to try it. Do you have any idea of how to make this into milk chocolate (using non-dairy milk)?


18 Jill February 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm

You can add some coconut cream (from the top of the can) and blend in when it is in the pot. It won’t be exactly like milk chocolate but it’s good!


19 Naia February 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm


I made this over the weekend. I had a very difficult time getting the honey to combine and after I poured the liquid into the pan, the honey sank to the bottom. This created a strange sticky bottom and a very bitter, solid chocolate top. From you pictures, it looks as if you may have had a similar mixing issue. Any suggestions? The chocolates were good but the stickiness makes them difficult to transport or eat other places other than directly from the pan.

Thanks, n


20 Jill February 25, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Yes there is a slight separation that you can see in the photos but I did not have trouble combining the ingredients in the pot and it was consistent throughout with no stickiness.

You do need to work quickly with a whisk when combining the honey and the melted cocoa butter. The honey should mix right in to the warm cocoa butter.

When cold, you should be able to cut it and hold it without a mess. It will get soft at room temperature. I wrap pieces in wax paper.


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Homemade Chocolate


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27 RichR September 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I have been experimenting with homemade chocolate via cocoa and coconut oil, and also cocoa and cocoa butter. I have had very good results from both. But would like a homemade chocolate bar that can sit at room temp.

I understand the low melting point of coconut oil will probably prevent that version from surviving room temp. I am wondering if anyone has had success in tempering this homemade chocolate– cocoa + cocoa butter + sweetener (real maple syrup, in my case; to me it seems less intrusive than honey, and I’m not a stevia fan.)

My main question is: does this homemade chocolate temper, the same as any other chocolate?

I’m new to this (especially, tempering chocolate.) Wondering if any experienced person has blazed this trail, already. Of the tempering methods, I’m leaning toward seeding with grated/planed cocoa butter. I don’t really want to turn around and seed my homemade product with commercial chocolate.


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42 demi March 17, 2014 at 6:24 am

hi.i bought some cocoa butter to make i have cocoa paste which we bought bulk.can i use that instead of cocoa powder since the powder are store bought and expensive?do i need to adjust the ingredients or just substitute coca powder with cocoa paste?thanks.


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Hi Demi,
I have not used cocoa paste so you would have to experiment.


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have you heard if I need to add extra cocoa butter in cocoa paste?because they say it already has some butter inside?thanks by the way


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Thank you! So yummy. I added chopped almonds and this is delish!! Only problem I had was I had to whisk it for literally about 10 mins to get the honey to mix in and not separate before putting in freezer.


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