Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Now I've Done It! A Recipe for Chocolate Jelly

Chocolate Jelly!
Well folks, my obsession with chocolate and my obsession with homemade jams and jellies have finally intersected at what has to be some kind of bizarre culinary crossroads. I've done it! I have created (ta-ta-ta-DAH!) CHOCOLATE JELLY!

Dream come true or crime against jelly nature? I'll leave that up to you. All I will say is that it smells and tastes like chocolate, is perfectly safe to can and my 21-year-old daughter thinks it's "bomb" with peanut butter.

First, rest assured that I'm going to share the recipe with you right here on this blog! But before we get to the nitty-gritty details of how to make the stuff, I really need to share how it came to be in the first place - the story of my chocolate epiphany, if you will.

Let's start with a single, simple truth: I absolutely LOVE chocolate. And the higher the quality, the better. In fact, my children will tell anyone who'll listen that one early lesson I taught them is that "life is too short to eat bad chocolate."

Close-up of brewing cocoa
So when I read recently that there was such a thing as brewing cocoa and that a whole cup of the stuff was only 20 calories, I couldn't wait to try it. Turns out that some very clever people have figured out that if they roast and grind cocoa beans just right, you can brew it up in a french press or drip coffee maker and it makes a really tasty substitute for your morning cup of joe. Just to be clear, it's not like drinking hot chocolate in that the brew is thin and slightly bitter. But add a little sugar or no-calorie sweetener and it's a really delicious way to start your day. Very low in calories, a fraction of the caffeine found in coffee (so no addiction headaches) and supposedly full of great stuff like antioxidants and theobromine - even Dr. Oz and Oprah have recently hopped on the brewed chocolate bandwagon.

After reading about it, I promptly ordered some and to get right to the point, I'm pretty much hooked. It gives me that chocolate hit I love and I can actually feel good about drinking it.

By now you're probably saying, "Okay already, Sydney! What does all of THIS have to do with making jelly?" Here's the deal; because actual chocolate is made with butter and cream, it's not safe to can. Most experienced canners know you can create some amazing sauces and jams using cocoa powder, but it's not the same as a true chocolate preserve. It occurred to me as I drank my morning cup that what I was drinking was certainly chocolate, but since it was made just from ground cocoa beans, it also contained no butter or cream. EUREKA!

I got out the French press, brewed up a full canister of the chocolate and went to work to make jelly out of it. And it worked! Still not sure what else it's good for besides adding to a peanut butter sandwich, but I'd love to hear from the rest of you. If you give it a try and come up with some great uses, please post them here for the rest of us. Enjoy!
Peanut butter and chocolate jelly
Sydney Rubin's Chocolate Jelly

32 ounces of water
1/2 rounded cup roasted, ground brewing cocoa beans (See source links at bottom)
5 1/2 cups sugar
One 1.75 ounce box of powdered pectin

Prepare jars, lids and boiling water canner
Prepare brewed chocolate according to directions from the supplier of your ground beans.
Make sure that you end up with a full 4 cups (32 ounces) of brewed chocolate. Pour that into a large, non-reactive pot.
Add the powdered pectin and stir to dissolve completely.
Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until you achieve a full, rolling boil that cannot be broken with a spoon.
Add all of the sugar at once and return the mixture to a full, rolling boil, stirring constantly.
Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and quickly fill jars to 1/4" headspace.
Put on lids and screw down bands just to fingertip tightness.
Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes at sea level, adjusting accordingly for higher altitudes (25 minutes here in Colorado).
Remove from heat and remove cover, letting canner and jars sit for 5 minutes.
Remove jars from canner and allow to sit, upright, on a towel for up to 24 hours, or until all the jars have sealed properly.
As usual, any jars that do not have a proper seal should be reprocessed or refrigerated and used promptly.
I've noticed that it may take a week or two for the full chocolate flavor of this jelly to develop. When I first made it, I thought it seemed "weak" and was thinking I needed to make a stronger "brew." After a couple of weeks, it tasted quite chocolaty indeed!

Sources for brewing cocoa beans: where you can purchase 12 ounces for $15. They have several blends at various prices. who offer an incredible selection of brewing chocolates starting at just $10 per pound.

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