Lavender Sea Salt Chocolate

Hey there. Answer me this one question.

How are we 3 weeks away from 2018? How?!

Normally I'm pretty prepared for the holiday season, but if I'm being 100% honest this year has been a big ball of crazy that I feel like I blinked and woke up in an ugly sweater with a mug of spiked apple cider in my hand. Despite the craziness of 2017, I'm trying to slow down this month and enjoy December. Right now, I'm staring at mine and Ricky's first real Christmas tree! I love this time of year, in part because I get to milk the festive spirit past Christmas night into my birthday (December 26th), but mostly because surprising family and friends with well thought out and creative gifts has always been such a fun thing for me.

One of my favorite things to do is try my hand at something DIY, whether thats a handmade candle in someone's favorite scent, a sugar scrub for someone who loves beauty, or some tasty treat to surprise your family with Christmas morning. I'm not sure what I'll get my hands into this year, but if you're anything like me and show your love through food, I've got a few great ideas for you:

1. Learn canning techniques. You can make homemade jams (like this Blackberry Vanilla Bourbon Jam or my Tomato Chili Jam), homemade butters like apple, cashew, or almond, or even try your hand at pickling!

2. Mason jar pancake or cookie mixes. These are great for the gluten-free person in your life because you can customize the flours in them however you like!

3. Infused vinegars and oils. This one is super simple and such a great gift idea! Simply add herbs, chilies, or whatever you want to infuse your oil with, to a glass jar. Pour your favorite oil over and store in a cool, dry place to infuse the flavors (12+ hours). Strain, and then pour into your favorite cute, gift-able (is that a word?) jars and give away! Detailed "recipe" and blog post coming soon!

4. Homemade chocolate. Seriously, if you guys haven't been making your own chocolate, be prepared for the easiest and tastiest thing ever. Check out my recipe for Lavender Sea Salt Chocolate below, but feel free to use the basics and then flavor however your heart desires.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp culinary grade, dried lavender

1/4 cup coconut sugar (or maple syrup, honey, etc)

1/2 cup melted cacao butter

1/2 cup cacao powder (about 2-3 chunks of solid cacao butter, depending on size)

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

additional sea salt + lavender for garnish

Instructions:

1. In a small sauce pan combine the coconut milk and lavender and heat over low for 5 minutes. Stir frequently, careful not to burn. After 5 or so minutes, remove from heat and set aside to steep.

2. Once ready to use, strain the lavender from the coconut milk.

3. Gently melt the cacao butter by microwaving for 20-30 increments, stirring after each one.

4. Once the cacao butter is melted, whisk in cacao powder and coconut sugar. Once combined, whisk in the infused coconut milk, and then stir in vanilla extract and season lightly with sea salt.

5. Line a glass dish (or, you could even use silicon molds) with wax or parchment paper and pour in the chocolate. Smooth it out with a spatula.

6. Before freezing, top with optional toppings: sprinkle with more sea salt, coconut sugar, and more crushed lavender for a more pungent lavender flavor. I used Trader Joe's Edible Flower Sea Salt and a pinch of ground lavender.

7. Freeze for 10-15 minutes, or until set. Once set, break into pieces. Store in the refrigerator for a week, or in the freezer for several months.

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