One of the joys of cooking is the creative satisfaction you get from literally creating something. Not only can you create future food memories, you can also relive memories making a treasured dish from your past. Whether it is your families’ secret recipe, something you ate for a special occasion, or simply, something you’ve never made before; making food from scratch has an amazing ability to empower and satisfy us at a deeper level.
“Not only can you create future food memories, you can also relive memories making a treasured dish from your past.”
One of these moments for me was just this past week when I finally made an amazing recipe for a sugar-free chocolate hardening sauce after many revisions and attempts. Earlier this summer, I had a moment at the grocery store and I was craving ice cream. I mentioned to my wife that I used to eat ice cream with Magic Shell and I as shared the story, I immediately went back to the first time I had it when I was a kid.
Fast forward back to this summer and I realized I had a problem. A sugar-free version doesn’t exist. Challenge excepted.
I began experimenting with a homemade, sugar-free, chocolate hardening sauce. Along the way, I found a few recipes on the web and tried many of them. While many work, there are a number of problems with virtually all of them. Most had no taste or had a weird aftertaste. Others were bitter and had a gritty feel and almost all of them had storage problems. They either go bad too fast, or they harden up and need to be reheated to pour again, which can create problems with the chocolate seizing after a couple of reheats depending on the mix of ingredients used.
After a number of attempts with a variety of ingredients and combinations, our version solves the challenges I encountered with other recipes: sugar-free, rich chocolate taste, smooth texture and storage stability after multiple reheating. Let’s review the ingredients and why they work:
While you can create this sauce using straight unsweetened cocoa powder, it presents a few challenges.
- The sauce is very bitter and to overcome the bitterness, you need too much sweetener to offset the bitterness.
- It is gritty, and that feels terrible in your mouth.
- Using cocoa powder alone creates storage issues.
To fix these issues, I have chosen to use Lily’s Chocolate as the base. Not only is it sweetened with Stevia, but unlike other sugar-free options, it’s not overly sweet. The only challenge is, is that it is not rich enough, so I am using a bit of Cocoa powder to boost that chocolatey richness.
The Vanilla Powder
Vanilla is to the baking world what salt is to the savory, culinary world. It is a great enhancer. I am using vanilla powder as opposed to traditional vanilla extract is water based and will seize the chocolate.
As I stated earlier, Lily’s Chocolate is amazing but lacks enough sweetness and richness alone for my taste. Many sweeteners can create digestive or taste issues, therefore, after many attempts, I found Allulose to work the best with this recipe.
The Cocoa Butter
This is the game changing ingredient. The whole reason Magic Shell works is because the oil based ingredients used solidify at higher temperatures when poured over the ice cream. Both coconut oil and raw cocoa butter also solidify at these same high temperatures. Coconut can work, except that it tastes like well, coconut. If I want chocolate then I want chocolate, not coconut or something that tastes like a Mounds bar.
Cocoa butter can be stored at room temperature, is comparable in price to other oils that solidify the same way and most important, it tastes like chocolate, because it comes form the cocoa plant.
Nutritionally, our recipe is virtually guilt free. zero sugar, dark chocolate and cocoa butter has a third less saturated fat than coconut oil so is that also a big win.
No Sugar added Chocolate hardening Sauce (aka. Magic Shell)
- 1 cup Lily's Chocolate Chips 55% cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Powder
- 2 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1 tablespoon Allulose sweetener granular
- 4 tablespoons raw Cocoa butter
- Using a medium size microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate in 15-20 second increments. After each increment, stir until the chocolate is almost fully melted. Then stir the chocolate until smooth and set aside.
- Cocoa butter will typically be sold in either bulk or chip form. I prefer the bulk form because I can then finely grate the butter for easier melting.
- In a separate microwave safe bowl, melt the cocoa butter using the same process used to melt the chocolate until fully melted.
- Add vanilla, cocoa powder and Allulose sweetener to the melted cocoa butter and stir until fully combined and smooth.
- Once fully combined, add the cocoa butter mixture to the melted chocolate and stir until fully blended together.Enjoy.