If you think you might have seen these before, you have. Kind of. I was inspired to attempt homemade chocolate chips again, because there really is nothing on the market that fills this much-needed low carb baking void. To be sure, there are several brands of sugar-free chocolate chips out there, but I could not unreservedly recommend any of them. Besides being extremely costly, they are made either with maltitol, a sugar alcohol that affects my blood glucose as much as regular sugar, or they are made with acesulfame potassium and sucralose. I know everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to low carb sweeteners, but these two are highly artificial and I simply don’t like them. I have a strong preference for erythritol based sweeteners, because it is a natural substance and because it has little to no effect on my blood sugar. So I desperately want chocolate chips sweetened with erythritol and I have for a while now been trying to prevail upon my good friends at Swerve Sweetener to get into the business of making such a highly sought after baking item.
Although Swerve is indeed in the middle of testing some dark chocolate made with their sweetener, these things take time to get onto the market and I am not a patient person. And as a reader recently asked me about the cost of some sugar-free chocolate and whether I had a decent homemade alternative, I decided I had to take matters into my own hands. I can honestly say that I have made vast strides in low carb cooking and baking in the past few years and very often my experiments lead me to new discoveries about how certain ingredients behave. I find myself storing up these little tidbits in my brain for future use. And when the time is right, a whole new idea takes shape in my brain and I can hardly wait to test it out.
The last time I made chocolate chips, I made them with butter. They were good, to be sure, but definitely a little on the soft side and they needed to be stored in the fridge and then added to the recipe just prior to baking. And although delicious, they didn’t quite live up to that true chocolate-chip flavour I had in my mind. Still, they were a good approximation and I was satisfied. But since that time, I have been playing around with other ingredients in some recipes, including cocoa butter. Unlike butter or coconut oil, cocoa butter stays quite solid, even in warmish weather and it takes a fair bit of work to make it melt. For a bar of chocolate or a chocolate chip, this is an excellent quality indeed.
I had originally intended to actually form them into chip shapes by putting them into a pastry bag and piping them into little blobs, but it was late in the evening when I started so I wimped out and poured the chocolate mixture into chocolate bar molds. And I am rather glad I did, because I then had the option of chopping it up into chocolate chunks for baking, or just eating a square of it as it was. Either way, these chocolate bars/chips blew my original attempts out of the water. First, they firmed up so well that they didn’t need to be refrigerated at all to stay firm, and secondly, they tasted like REAL chocolate. And why shouldn’t they? REAL chocolate is made with cocoa butter and is part of what gives it the deep, intense chocolate flavour. I had a hard time saving any of my first batch for baking with, because I just kept eating a square of chocolate here, and a square of chocolate there, as I passed through the kitchen.
I will readily admit that erythritol doesn’t love to dissolve into chocolate and with my amateur chocolate making equipment (read: a pot, a whisk and some plastic chocolate molds), I couldn’t quite work the graininess out of it. But I found I didn’t mind at all in the finished product because it tasted that good. And it baked well too, I was pleased to find. Although they didn’t exactly keep their shape during baking, they also didn’t totally liquify and run all over the pan, as I feared they might. They held up about as well as any bar of chopped dark chocolate I’ve ever used. All in all, I’d say they were a success and quite an improvement over my first homemade chocolate chips.