I stepped away from Springhouse Turtle to work on my photos, but then I developed tendonitis in my clicking finger from all that photo editing. Or at least that’s what I’d thought. In fact, my doctor told me, I’d developed osteoarthritis, the inevitable scourge of age.
The pain in my finger, which was quite unpleasant, finally convinced me to do what I’ve been inching towards for years: eliminate all refined sugar from my diet to reduce chronic inflammation.
Easier said than done, but pain is a great motivator. The first thing I did was stop buying Kind Bars and Larabars, which had been my two sweet indulgences. As indulgences go, these are fairly benign in the sugar department, but all refined sugar had to go, so off they went.
My next stop was to create a rich dark chocolate sauce that I could use for dipping strawberries or to make chocolate milk or to pour over sugar-free ice cream (my current choice is no-sugar-added So Delicious Mint Chip non-dairy frozen dessert).
The brand of stevia sweetened chocolate sauce I used to buy disappeared from stores during the pandemic, so I had to create my own. It took a little experimenting, but I managed to come up with a close alternative. It’s a dark chocolate oozable sauce that tastes a bit grittier than the original, but just as sweet.
The most important ingredient in this chocolate sauce is vegetable glycerin. I use NOW Foods brand, which you can find online or in organic supermarkets. Vegetable glycerin is a humectant (it attracts and retains water), so it’s often used in skin care preparations. But it’s also sweet and edible, so it makes a great base for sugar-free chocolate syrup.
I called NOW Foods to make sure their vegetable glycerin is food grade, and they assured me it’s completely edible. There are other brands of vegetable glycerin out there, so check to make sure whatever brand you buy is food grade before using it in this recipe. The type of cocoa powder you use will determine how smooth your syrup is. Experiment with a few brands until you find which one works best for you.
The recipe is simple: cocoa powder, filtered water, vegetable glycerin, vanilla and liquid stevia. I whisk cocoa powder and water together in a saucepan, heat the mixture to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer it for about 5 minutes. I then whisk vegetable glycerin, vanilla and stevia into the slightly cooled mixture, and cook it at a low simmer for another 5 minutes, creating a fairly smooth dark chocolate sauce.
This chocolate sauce definitely satisfies my craving for a sweet chocolate treat, so it’s working so far to help me stop eating refined sugar. And my clicking finger feels a lot better, so I’m motivated to keep refined sugar out of my diet forever.
Stevia-Sweetened Chocolate Sauce
This thick, dark chocolate sauce is sweetened with stevia and vegetable glycerin, a sweet indulgence that's free of dairy and refined sugar.
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1/2 cup food grade vegetable glycerin
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid stevia
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk the cocoa powder and filtered water together.
Turn the heat up to high, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking continuously.
Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
Stir in vegetable glycerin, vanilla and stevia, and cook for 5 more minutes, whisking regularly.
Pour into a glass container, cover, and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Remove from fridge and bring to room temperature before using.
Place a cup of cocoa powder into a small saucepan.
Stir in a cup of filtered water, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.
Turn down the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. The mixture should thicken.
Stir in vegetable glycerin, vanilla and stevia, and simmer for another five minutes.
The resulting mixture will be thinner and very smooth.
Pour into a glass container with a lid, and put in the fridge until ready to use. Serve at room temperature.