Just a few weeks ago, media was reporting that Taylor Swift has kept her super-slim figure by munching on chia seeds (ref). Chia seeds expand in the stomach and make her feel full longer, according to the reports. But of course, we know that media reports are not always accurate, and Taylor Swift has always had a great physique.
But true or not, chia seeds do seem to be all the rage lately, and so I wanted to find out what they are about. Not only are chia seeds high in Omega-3 Fatty Acid, which is similar to flax seeds, but your body is able to process them whole, as opposed to flax seeds, which have to be ground. They also do expand in fluid, so you can eat less to feel full sooner.
I bought a bag of organic chia seeds, and it turns out that these little crunchy seeds are enjoyable to eat, and tastier than flax seeds. Plus, they have a really nice crunch, making them fun to munch on. However, munching on them straight up is a little difficult, because they are so tiny. Sure, you could lick them off your hand, but that is messy and, well, kinda gross.
What's more, POPSUGAR tells us that eating chia seeds straight up is not safe. If you chase them with a beverage, the seeds will expand before they reach your stomach and may cause breathing problems. They also explain that "when they're included in a recipe, our bodies can digest chia seeds whole". So I thought, why not put chia seeds in chocolate? There seems to be a lot of chocolate-and-chia pudding recipes on the Internet, but no products or recipes for solid chocolate-and-chia bars.
And so I headed off to my commercial kitchen to make some Chia Chocolate Bars. I wanted to maintain the health benefits of eating the seeds, so I chose a 71% organic dark chocolate chip made from Peruvian cacao as my base. I chose it because it has an interesting flavour that really stands out. But because chocolate chips are 'bake-stable' chocolate products, they do not melt very easily, nor do they have a nice shine like professional chocolate couverture does. So I added a little cocoa butter to the recipe to get a nice smooth texture and a good shine for my chia chocolate bars.
These solid chocolate bars turned out beautifully. Although I could have poured the chocolate out onto waxed paper and made a nice thin chocolate bark*, I decided to use a variety of the chocolate bar molds that I had on hand to experiment. They were all great, but I found the thinner the piece of chocolate, the more enjoyable it was to eat because the chia seed crunch really stood out. This recipe made the following:
- Four 45 gram chocolate bars, plus six 30 gram chocolate bars, plus ten 20 gram 'discs' (chocolate poured into the bottom of a cupcake tin).
RECIPE: Chia Chocolate Bars
- 12 ounces (340g) of organic 70-71% dark chocolate chips, chopped (I used Camino brand of baking chips)
- 1 ounce (28g) solid cocoa butter (chopped or shaved), preferably organic (I used Cacao Barry)+
- 2 ounces (57g) of organic chia seeds* (I used Organic PRANA Chia seeds from Costco)
*Option: for a bark with a heavier crunch and higher cacao content, use only 1 ounce (28g) of chia seeds and 1 ounce (28g) of organic roasted cacao nibs. See below for bark instructions.
+Cocoa butter is not necessary if you use a good couverture chocolate. You can buy couvertures from companies like www.vanillafoodcompany.ca or Google other online retailers near you with the brands Cacao Barry (offers an organic 71% couv), Guittard, Belcolade, etc.
All of the above ingredients can be purchased from the health food aisle in a large grocery store or in a health food store.
Before you start, ensure all your tools and your hands are dry (not even a drop of water can get into your melted chocolate or it will ruin the whole batch!).
1. Melt and temper your 12 ounces of chocolate and cocoa butter. Click here for detailed and accurate-every-time tempering instructions using a double boiler and ice bath, or follow the Simple Tempering Method at the bottom of this recipe.
2. When the temperature is right, toss in your chia seeds and stir until mixed.
3. Immediately pour a little into the bottom of each cavity of one or two cupcake tins or chocolate bar molds, if you have them*. Be careful when pouring not to drip any up the sides of the tin. Bang your pan/mold on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles and spread the chocolate around. If any remains, pour onto waxed paper and spread around to make a chocolate bark.
4. Let set in the fridge for 1 hour, then take it out and flip the container over onto waxed paper, parchment or plastic wrap on the counter, tapping the cupcake tin or mold until the chocolate releases.
5. Let the chocolate bars or discs come back to room temperature before you package them. Seal in candy bags, plastic wrap, parchment paper or just a tin and consume when needed for up to one year! Store in a cool, dry place (a dark cupboard works best).
*Making a chocolate bark: If you don't have chocolate or cupcake molds, you could also just make a bark by pouring the chocolate and chia mix onto a large piece of waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Spread around and let set for a few minutes, then make rectangular cuts (for bars) or triangular cuts (for bark) with a straight-edges knife. Place the cookie sheet in the fridge for 1 hour, then remove and pull the pieces off of the waxed paper. Let the chocolate come back to room temperature before you seal in containers.
Please use the comments section below if you have any questions and I will try to help in a timely fashion. Enjoy!
Simple Tempering Method:
For a more accurate tempering method, click here.
Step 1: Place your chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl. Melt for 2 minutes on HALF POWER. Remove and stir until melted or nearly melted. Place back in the microwave for another 15 seconds to bring the temperature up to 120 F (if you do not have a digital candy thermometer, it should be slightly hot to touch) and stir until everything is melted.
Step 2: Add the cocoa butter to the chocolate and stir until fully melted, then continue to stir and reduce the temperature to about 84 or 85 degrees by placing the bottom of your bowl over a bag of frozen peas, frozen fruit or ice. Stir until the chocolate is the same temperature or cooler than the back of your baby finger when dipped into the chocolate.