Homemade Chocolate Chips for Baking (Vegan and Soy Free)

I’m not that creative with most DIY projects, but when they involve food – especially chocolate – I’m all in!

Vertical image of a white bowl filled with chunks of dark brown candy, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

I’ve never been great at wrapping presents, and I have no idea how to paint a wall or hang a framed photo. My home gardening skills are lacking, and don’t you dare ask me to help choose the right assortment of throw pillows for your living room if you’re redecorating.

But when you are looking for your next edible DIY project, you can always rely on me to be there in a flash with an apron on and a spatula in my hand!

And what is my next tasty assignment, crafted from scratch?

Homemade chocolate chunks, for baking, snacking, and more!

Vertical image of a white plate with dark brown chunks of candy next to tan towels.

While not born of necessity, but rather a playful curiosity to see if it was actually possible to make something new using a few basic pantry ingredients, this recipe has already become a staple in my kitchen.

I hope it will gain just as much popularity in yours, particularly if you are seeking a more natural recipe to add chocolatey flavor to your desserts.

There is nothing to hide with this ingredient list. While many store-bought chocolate chips contain refined sugar, soy, milk, sneaky stabilizers, and at times unidentified natural flavors, my homemade version is simple and straightforward, with only four ingredients: coconut oil, agave nectar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract.

It won’t be too sweet – the flavor profile is similar to a deep, dark chocolate with hints of vanilla fragrance from the extract, and a touch of sweet coconut flavor from the oil.

Vertical image of a white plate with cookies and dark brown candy chunks.

I love nibbling on a few chunks in my snack packs as an instant pick-me-up, when I need a quick fix to satisfy a strong craving for something a little sweet at work.

Other than munching on them for instant snacking, you can use them for a medley of other purposes across the entire spectrum of desserts and baked goods.

They are ideal for adding into your favorite recipes for cookies, ice cream, and cakes.

For breakfast, consider mixing them into quick breads, pancakes, and French toast casseroles, or generously sprinkling a few on top of oatmeal and porridge.

Vertical image of a white bowl filled with chunks of dark brown candy next to cookies.

Have some fun with this recipe!

And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you can invite over that friend of yours (you know the one) who is a pro at decorating, wrapping presents, hanging picture frames, and gardening, to help with some of your own home projects.

You just need to offer some freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie compensation!

It’s a fair exchange, I think.

Print
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Horizontal image of a bowl filled with dark brown chunks of candy on a plate next to a tan towel and cookies.

Homemade Chocolate Chunks for Baking


  • Author: Nikki Cervone
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes about 3 cups small chopped chocolate pieces (24 2-tbsp servings) 1x

Description

Not a big fan of the milk, soy, and stabilizers that are typically found in store-bought chocolate chips? Learn how to make them from scratch.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup coconut oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

Instructions

  1. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with coconut oil and cover the bottom and two sides with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over two of the sides.
  2. In a small saucepot, add the coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Melt the ingredients over low heat, whisking constantly, until everything is completely incorporated and the mixture starts to boil.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat. Gradually whisk in the cocoa powder. Continue whisking until the cocoa powder is completely incorporated and a smooth, runny sauce forms.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes before pouring into the prepared pan. Place the uncovered pan in the freezer. Chill for 30 to 45 minutes, or until completely hardened.
  5. Remove from the pan by lifting the paper on both sides, and place on a cutting board. Remove the paper.
  6. Working quickly to prevent melting, chop the chocolate into small squares with a sharp knife.
  7. Transfer the chunks to an airtight container, and immediately place in the fridge or freezer for storage. The chocolate will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for about 6 months.

Notes

To prevent excessive melting, the chunks are best used when they are cold for recipes that require baking.

  • Category: Chocolate
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Candy

Keywords: chocolate chips, chocolate chunks

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with coconut oil. Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over two of the sides by a few inches.

It is not necessary to grease the paper on top. The chocolate will come off easily from the paper!

Horizontal image of bowls of cocoa powder, sweetener, vanilla, and coconut oil next to tan towels.

Set out a small saucepot, a whisk, and a spatula.

Measure the remaining coconut oil, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder. If you follow a gluten-free diet, check to make sure the extract that you use is certified gluten free.

You can use refined or unrefined (virgin) coconut oil. I advise sifting the cocoa powder to remove any lumps.

Step 2 – Heat Wet Ingredients

Add the coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract to the pot.

Horizontal image of a light orange liquid in a pot next to tan towels.

Melt the ingredients over low heat on the stovetop, whisking continuously, until everything is completely incorporated and the mixture starts to boil. This will take about 5 minutes.

Step 3 – Add the Cocoa Powder

Remove the pot from the heat. Gradually whisk in the cocoa powder to uniformly and quickly incorporate it into the liquid.

Horizontal image of whisking a dark brown smooth mixture in a pot next to tan towels.

Continue whisking until the cocoa powder is completely incorporated and a smooth, runny sauce forms.

It will not be a very thick mixture. Rather, it will resemble a runny ganache. Don’t worry! It will set into a firm mass as it cools.

Step 4 – Pour into Pan and Set

Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes before pouring into the prepared pan, using a spatula to remove all of the liquid from the pot.

Horizontal image of a dark brown thick liquid in a lined square metal pan.

Place the pan in the freezer uncovered. Covering the mixture will cause condensation to develop if it is still warm, and this may negatively affect its ability to set properly. The droplets will also leave marks on the surface – not pretty!

Because this natural, vegan recipe does not contain the same ingredients as a traditional chocolate, you may notice some discoloration in the final product from when the coconut oil resets in a cold setting. The chilled block will also be slightly granular, as there are no stabilizers or emulsifiers included in the mix.

But it will still be 100% edible and tasty!

Chill for 30 to 45 minutes, or until completely hardened.

You can also choose to chill the pan in the refrigerator, but this will take a little longer to fully set, about an hour or possibly a bit more. Cooling completely to room temperature before chilling is another option that’s available to you, though it will also take a bit more time.

Step 5 – Cut and Store

Gently press the surface with your finger or a spoon to see if it has hardened. Not quite done? Stick it back in the freezer!

Horizontal image of cutting a dark brown block into small chunks on a cutting board next to tan towels.

When the block is fully set, take it out of the pan, using the paper overhang to help with removal. Place on a cutting board and peel the paper away.

With a sharp knife, chop the block into small chunks, working quickly to prevent melting.

You can create chunks of whatever size you prefer for however you will use them. Larger squares are great for making chocolate chip cookies, since they will not melt as quickly, while shavings are perfect to use as a lovely garnish for cakes, ice cream, and other desserts.

Transfer the chips to an airtight container, and immediately place it in the fridge or freezer for storage. The chocolate will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for about 6 months.

Horizontal top-down image of chunks of dark brown candy in a white bowl surrounded by cookies.

A word of caution…

You must store these chocolate chunks in a cold setting! Because they are homemade, they are not as stable as store-bought varieties if kept at room temperature.

This is particularly important when you are using these chips for recipes that require baking, like cakes, cookies, and quick breads. It’s best to keep the chips in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to incorporate them into the dough or batter. This will prevent excessive melting.

Personalize It!

Isn’t it just fun to be able to say that you know how to make chocolate chips from scratch?

Horizontal image of a bowl filled with dark brown chunks of candy on a plate next to a tan towel and cookies.

And now you can make the experience even more exciting by adding a few touches of your own creativity and personal taste!

Here are just a handful of ideas to personalize your homemade creations for use in your own recipes, whatever they may be. Before you pour the chocolate into the pan, consider some of these additions:

  • Try different extracts to replace the vanilla, like almond or peppermint (use 1/4 teaspoon, since other flavors are often stronger than vanilla)
  • Mix in a teaspoon of freshly grated orange or lemon zest
  • Mix in a handful of puffed quinoa, or chopped toasted nuts or seeds
  • Raid your spice cabinet and use a pinch of your favorite dried seasonings or spices that pair well with chocolate, like cinnamon, cayenne pepper, or espresso powder
  • Top with a light sprinkle of flaky sea salt before chilling

Do you have any ideas to personalize your own chocolate chips? What’s the first recipe you’ll use these fun chunks in? Let’s chat in the comment section below!

After we start digging into that dialogue, take a look at these vegan dessert recipes from Foodal that feature chocolate:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on August 14, 2012. Last updated on December 22, 2021.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is a full-time cheesemonger and specialty foods buyer living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

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