Raw-food expert and vegan chocolatier Laura Coxeter is dedicated to proving that chocolate need not be a guilty indulgence - her delectable creations concocted from ingredients such as anti-oxidant rich cacao, coconut oil and sweetened with coconut sugar are a healthier treat than what you will find in the candy aisle. Hosting raw workshops throughout London – Laura began experimenting with essential oils within her chocolate creations to create that perfect melt-in-your mouth texture - an imperative facet of the chocolate experience required by all cacao-loving connoisseurs. Read on for a glimpse into the delicious and decadent world of one of our favourite not-so-guilty pleasures.
What was the catalyst that inspired you to begin incorporating essential oils within your chocolate creations and do you think they enhance the overall eating experience?
The most important thing with chocolate is achieving that smooth mouth feel and using food grade oils enables me to get intense flavour whilst retaining that essential quality. The texture that these oils create is truly amazing and you can get so creative with different combinations, producing exotic flavours that wouldn't be easy to achieve using fresh, whole ingredients. One of my favourite blends is a chai mix using oils of nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper and sweet orange. I had been using a traditional chai spice blend before and unfortunately it made the chocolate too gritty.
What are your favourite essential oils to use within your recipes?
I love to use florals! Geranium works so very well with a dark, rich chocolate. It can be nicely lifted with a touch of rose too. There are many varieties of rose to play around with. The only trouble is, it is one of the most precious and expensive oils! Violet creams are a Christmas favourite. I blend violet extract with a macadamia nut butter to recreate the classic Victorian, English confection, enrobed in a crisp dark chocolate shell. Pure decadence!
Another firm favourite with most people is Peppermint. It acts as the perfect end to a meal and is refreshing to the palate. You can have fun trying all the varieties of mint too - peppermint, spearmint etc. This flavour works so well with a bit of texture through the chocolate too. I use it with sprouted, dehydrated buckwheat.
Why do you think flowers (ie. essential oils) and chocolate go so well together?
I think the florals 'lift' the intensity of the heavier tobacco, coffee and smokey notes found naturally in the cacao. Flower derived essential oils are fun, fresh and not the kind of flavour our palette gets to explore very often - exciting!
Scent and essential oils have long been known to have a potent affect on our mood and our state of being – when creating a recipe do you take into account a certain emotion or mood that you envision will be ignited at the time of consumption?
Rose is a definite mood enhancer. It is soothing and an aphrodisiac! It is sweet, therefore comforting. I like to combine rose oil with other potent herbs such as maca (a hormone balancing Peruvian root) or shatavari, another herb used for women's hormones. Rose is very feminine, but not exclusively loved by women! Again, the chai is a firm favourite, especially in the winter, ginger is so very important for our systems in the cold weather. Raw cacao is seen as a 'cooling' food in Chinese medicine, so it is nice to balance things out with a warming spice from nature's apothecary!
What is the scent you can remember most prominently from your childhood and your all time favourite scent?
Oh, lavender (which is great in raw desserts; a late summer cheesecake made with fermented nuts perhaps). It reminds me of my Grandmother, who grew it in abundance in her glorious Norfolk garden. Making lavender bags with old scraps of fabric and ribbon - I still have them in my wardrobe now. More recently, I have been wearing Patchouli. I always found it too heavy for me, perhaps I have grown into it now. I lighten it up with some ylang ylang and sometimes geranium.
To see more of Laura's delectable delights head over to her website here or stay tuned for the recipe for her Raw Chocolate Ganache Tart using floral and fragrant essential oils to add a touch of Spring to a luxurious classic.