Confession time. This homemade chocolate slab is so simple and easy to make that it hardly constitutes a recipe. But, it makes a perfect handmade gift. It's easy to mould different shapes, so you can make a lovely Valentine's heart, or Christmas themed slabs. Alternatively, make a chocolate slab for friends and serve it as a mini dessert after dinner, breaking it into shards at the table.
Health benefits of a dark chocolate slab
It'll make a big nutritional difference if you make this chocolate slab with dark chocolate. You've probably heard that dark chocolate has some health benefits. And there's strong evidence to show that it is true. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and flavonoids which can help both heart and brain health. You'll get more benefits from a plain dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids. In addition plain dark chocolate is much lower in sugar than a flavoured chocolate, or milk chocolate. See here for more information about the health benefits of dark chocolate if that all sounds too good to be true!
If you decorate your chocolate slab using mostly nuts, plus dried fruit without added sugar it will be even more healthy. So as well as giving friends and family a lovely treat with this homemade treat, you'll also be helping them to look after their health.
How to make a chocolate slab
I have a silicon mould in a heart shape which I used when I made this recipe for the picture above. Silicon is ideal, as you can easily peel it away from the chocolate without having to line the mould. But a proper mould really isn't essential. You can easily make a chocolate slab in a plain cake tin or even a plastic box as when it's decorated with dried fruit and nuts it will look lovely. Line the tin or container with lightly oiled greaseproof paper so you can easily remove the slab.
Little mini slabs or chocolate discs also work well. I have used a silicon muffin tray to make individual discs. You could also use themed cookie cutters. Lay them on oiled greaseproof paper on a baking tray and spread the chocolate inside the cookie cutter.
The quantities of chocolate in the recipe below will fill a mould approximately 15cm by 15 cm, depending on the shape.
Flavouring your chocolate
I love the combination of cardamom and chocolate as the cardamom adds a delicious warmth. If you use whole pods, then you need to split them open to extract the small brown seeds, and grind them up finely. (I use a mortar and pestle).
If you'd like an orange chocolate slab, then you could add a little grated orange zest. Alternatively, you could also try some ground ginger, cinnamon or coffee powder. (If you've only got coffee granules, grind them to a powder first.) However, it's best not to use a liquid flavouring, as liquid can spoilt melted chocolate.
How to melt chocolate
Melting chocolate is easy when you know how, but you do need to take care. It’s really important that you don't overheat chocolate as it will seize up (which basically means it goes lumpy and is ruined). You need to melt the chocolate in a bowl which is positioned over gently simmering water. The bowl should not come into direct contact with the water. I find it best to choose a heatproof bowl a bit bigger than a saucepan, so it will sit safely on top with the hot water underneath.
Keep the heat turned very low, so that the water doesn’t overheat and reach a rolling boil. As soon as the chocolate starts to melt, turn off the heat and give it a stir with a spatula.
This post has more detailed instructions if you want more help with how to melt chocolate.
Once melted, pour the chocolate into your prepared mould. Place in the fridge for about 10 minutes so that it just starts to set before decorating.
Decorating your homemade chocolate slab
Use whatever selection of dried fruit and nuts you fancy to make your chocolate slab look pretty. Dried cranberries, blueberries and apricots look lovely. Much as I love dates, prunes and sultanas, they don’t make such a good contrast to the dark coloured chocolate. It's important to use dried fruit rather than fresh fruit so there's no excess liquid. You can use the nuts whole, or chop them as you prefer.
It's best to add the decorations when the chocolate is semi set. That way they won't sink in too far, but will stick onto the chocolate. Once decorated, allow the chocolate to finish setting at room temperature. Once it's fully hardened, carefully remove from the mould.
Other healthy chocolate treats you might like
- 120 g dark chocolate
- 2 cardamom pods or use ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- dried fruit and nuts to decorate
- Place lightly oiled greaseproof paper in the bottom of your mould. If you are using a silicon mould, you won't need to line it.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat as soon as the chocolate starts to melt.
- Open the cardamom pods, extract the seeds and grind finely in a mortar and pestle. Add to the chocolate and stir gently.
- Pour the chocolate into your prepared moulds. You are aiming for a depth of around 3-4 mm. Place in the fridge for about 10 minutes until the chocolate starts to harden slightly.
- Decorate with dried fruit and nuts. Allow to set fully at room temperature.
- When cool, carefully remove the chocolate from the mould and remove the baking paper.
- Dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa solids will have more health benefits.
- If you prefer, you could flavour the chocolate with orange zest, ground cinnamon or ginger, or coffee powder. Avoid liquid flavours which could spoil the chocolate.
- Use whatever combination of dried fruit and nuts which you prefer. Dried fruits which contrast with the colour of dark chocolate will work especially well.
Please note nutritional information is for guidance only