“Homemade” Chocolate That Will Make You Feel Fabulous
I was having one of those days when it felt like every other woman in the world was doing something more interesting, more glamorous and more important than I was.
Mostly what I’d been doing for the past 8 hours was trying to get my toddler to use a tissue and not stick a finger directly into her nose. She has a little cold and thus, a stuffy nose, and she is violently opposed to me assisting in the removal of snot in any way. A friend of mine calls it “death by kleenex” and that’s exactly how O reacts every time I come at her with a tissue or try to get her to use one.
I’m realizing that two is an awkward age – no longer a baby, but definitely not a kid yet. If she were a baby, I would suction her nose or at least be able to wipe it. If she were a bigger kid, she could blow her own nose. Until now, I’d never thought about the fact that blowing your nose is a skill that takes time to master. I spent a solid five minutes demonstrating a successful nose blow to O and she just looked at me the whole time like I was trying to teach her a calculus equation.
On one hand, it’s really rewarding and amazing to be teaching a tiny human basic survival skills. On the other hand, repeating the phrase “please don’t wipe your booger on the curtains” seven thousand times a day can drive you mad.
What would I rather be doing?
I’d rather be sending out inspiring newsletters about “cross-disciplinary interestingness and combinatorial creativty” like the woman I read about in the New York Times. That misspelling of “creativity” is hers, not mine, but she lives in Brooklyn and therefore is very cool and smart. Which makes me think that I am so uncool and out of touch that the misspelling is probably on purpose for some very hip reason that my mom-mind can no longer grasp.
Or maybe instead of wiping a snotty nose all day I could be attending a chic cookie party, like the one featured in Bon Appetit this month. Or opening a little gourmet shop and then a restaurant, like a woman did over the past two years in my neighborhood. Or doing everything all those crafty women keep pinning on Pinterest.
I decided to make myself feel even worse by reading a few of the blogs that I follow. Surely, these super-women had been blogging like crazy and cooking amazing meals and sharing it all through brilliant prose and gorgeous photos. As I hopped from one blog to another I felt a giant wave of both happiness and relief. Posts hadn’t been updated for weeks, or some cases, a month! I was more in love with the blogs than ever. You might think the authors were doing nothing at all. But I knew better. As one woman put it, “Blogging has fallen to the bottom of the list of things I get to do after I get everything else done. Because I never do get everything else done, I don’t blog.”
I have to admit, I’m always a little bit suspicious of mom-bloggers who consistently update their site. You can look like a brilliant mother online, but we all know that you can’t be on your computer constantly updating your blog while simultaneously paying real attention to your child. I also know that if you’re blogging, you aren’t using your free time away from work and kids to do other crucial tasks like showering, or emptying the overflowing recycling bin under your kitchen sink or buying your brother a birthday gift (sorry, Kev) or researching how to set up a living trust like I’ve been meaning to do for a year.
But listen, there’s no reason that like me, you have to admit to whole world that you don’t have time to be as fabulous as all the other women out there. If you bring these homemade chocolate bars to even one holiday party this season, everyone will think you’re amazing. If you eat the whole pan by yourself at home, you will still feel like a dessert-making rockstar, which is just as good.
I once walked into a party with these treats and someone gushed, “You made chocolate?!!” I just smiled and didn’t say anything. Because sometimes you want to be that fabulous version of yourself who’s making artisanal chocolate from scratch in your kitchen, rather than a person who buys chocolate bars, melts them in your microwave and passes them off as an amazing homemade dessert.
“Homemade” Chocolate Bars
Time in the Kitchen: 20 minutes, plus an hour or so to refrigerate
I know this recipe is so simple that it seems too good to be true, but trust me, they taste so much more decadent than just eating a chocolate bar straight. I love the basic recipe, which is just chocolate and sea salt, but you can also mix in other ingredients that you love with chocolate. I always keep these bars in the refrigerator and bring them out just before eating.
Ingredients for the Basic Recipe:
Three 3.5 ounce bars of dark chocolate (75% or more)
1/2 teaspoon large-flake sea salt (I recommend Maldon)
Optional add-ins: 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce, some nuts or dried fruit, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
Line a 8x8x2 square pan with parchment paper. Chop the chocolate into small pieces. I use a serrated bread knife to do this.
Melt 3/4 of the chocolate in the microwave. In my microwave, this takes 2 minutes, and I stop and stir it once after a minute.
Add the remaining 1/4 of the chocolate pieces and stir vigorously into the warm melted chocolate so all the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Pour the chocolate into the pan. If adding any other ingredient, drizzle or mix it in.
Sprinkle the sea salt on top.
Refrigerate until solid, usually about an hour. After the chocolate is solid, cut into squares. The bars are rich, so the squares don’t have to be big.
Tip: If you add caramel you have to store the bars in the fridge or the caramel will get way too runny and gooey. If I add coconut oil, I usually keep the bars in the freezer so the oil doesn’t liquefy.
A note about sea salt: I love Maldon sea salt, which can be found in many grocery stores. It’s expensive compared to regular salt (around $6) but less expensive than a lot of other sea salts. A box lasts a really long time, even for someone like me who uses the salt almost every day. The sea salt is meant to be sprinkled on food after it has finished cooking.