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Aztec Chocolate Blocks – Paleo Chocolate Gelatin Squares

I constantly struggle to eat enough fat.

You don’t have any sympathy, do you? But it is a problem for me about 6 days out of 7. I’m sure a few bacon cheese burgers and fries would fix this “problem,” but that’s not what I want. For starters, greasy food tends to ruin my day! Things like salmon, avocado, some nuts, and olive oil are how I’d prefer to meet my fat macro goal.

So what’s that got to do with this recipe? It’s made with a whole can of full fat coconut milk. Not the stuff that’s 50 calories a half cup – I mean the really full fat, un-diluted stuff. By the time the chocolate blocks are cut into manageable squares each block has about a gram and a half of fat. It isn’t enough to wreck your meal plan if you’re looking for a decadent treat, but a couple are enough to help me make my fat macro! And why are they called Aztec chocolate blocks? Because they have a spicy surprise. =)

Aztec Chocolate Blocks - Paleo Chocolate Gelatin Squares

I know it sounds weird that I’m consciously trying to eat more fat, but your body needs a certain amount of fat, just like you need a certain amount of protein and carbs. The differences I’ve seen in my body, energy level, and gym performance since I started tracking my macros and eating what I actually need have been incredible. I’ve been logging my food regularly for almost six months now and in that time I’ve accomplished things I never imagined were possible. For example, I’ve gone from being able to regularly get 50% of my bodyweight overhead with a barbell to being able to get 104% of my bodyweight overhead. That’s exciting stuff! My max jerk is now slightly more than my max back squat two years ago, and my current 3 rep max back squat is the same as my (very sketchy) 1 RM from April. If those words don’t make any sense to you, suffice it to say I’ve gotten both stronger and leaner since I began eating what my body needs. For some visuals, hop on over to my post about how “big” I’ve gotten with CrossFit and Oly (spoiler alert – I’m actually physically smaller as a result of lifting).

But enough of that. Let’s move along to the chocolate! That’s why y’all are here, right?

Paleo chocolate gelatin

If you love chocolate, you probably already know that it’s from South America and that the original chocolate beverages were spicy, not sweet. These Paleo “Aztec” chocolate blocks honor that tradition with raw cacao powder and two kinds of pepper! While raw cacao is a better choice that cocoa powder, you can use cocoa powder if that’s all you have available. Even if there are no specially stores around you, you can always get natural cacao powder on Amazon! This is the cacao powder I use because I find it to be consistently high quality and a good value. If you’re using processed cocoa that’s already sweetened, I highly recommend leaving out the honey. And speaking of the honey, I’m not a big sweets eater. You can add one or two more tablespoons of honey if you need to, but less sugar is better for you. =)

Aztec Chocolate Blocks - Paleo Chocolate Gelatin Squares
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 34
  • 1 can (about 1⅔ cups) full fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 4 teaspoons gelatin, preferably grass fed (4 envelopes if you're using Knox gelatin)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1.5 oz raw cocao powder (this is about ¼C + ⅛C)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper or cayenne pepper (more if you're bold!)
  • a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine the coconut milk and water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Place the saucepan over a medium-heat burner and whisk in the powdered gelatin.
  3. Whisk slowly but constantly until the mixture is heated through, about 5-8 minutes. You may see it just starting to steam - that's fine. You don't need to bring it to a simmer, though!
  4. Keep whisking as you slowly add the honey.
  5. Once the honey is combined, slowly add/whisk in the cacao powder and keep whisking until it's fully combined.
  6. Whisk in the spices and remove the saucepan from the stove.
  7. Pour the mixture into a large glass or ceramic dish. A 9x9 or larger casserole dish works well!
  8. Cut a piece of plastic wrap and carefully place it on the gelatin's surface. This will prevent unattractive "scumming" as it cools.
  9. Place the chocolate gelatin in the fridge and allow it to cool/set for 3-4 hours.
  10. Cut into squares and enjoy immediately or store in an air tight container in the fridge to enjoy later.

When I worked out the math, each of my chocolate blocks had about 35 calories with about 1.8 grams of fat, 2.9 grams of carbs, and 1.9 grams of protein. These numbers will vary depending on your exact ingredients and how many pieces you cut your chocolate gelatin in to, so please work out your exact numbers if tracking macros is important to you! If it isn’t, well, now you have a ballpark idea of the nutritional information.

chocolate gelatin blocks

While we’re on a “healthy” note: folks who know me know I am not a runner. Not at all. Several years ago, Papi Chulo did a Ragnar Relay in Miami and absolutely loved it. Well, it turns out there will be a Ragnar Relay over on Big Island next year. The distances haven’t been announced yet, but it will be about 200 miles run as a relay by a 12 person team. Not only is the distance divided by 12, but each person has multiple shorter runs instead of one really long one. It still seems very intimidating to me, though, because (as mentioned above) I am not a runner. Have any of you other non-runner types ever done a relay race like this? Or just any race longer than a 5k? Were you miserable or did it turn out okay? How long did you train?


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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Splendid Little Stars October 20, 2015, 15:50

    I think I’ll try a version of this using agar instead of gelatin. The addition of fresh black pepper sounds delish.

    • Natashalh October 20, 2015, 16:06

      I’ve got to admit that agar kind of sketches me out! I’m just not familiar enough with using it to feel comfortable knowing how much to use for something like this. I’m sure it would fine, though, if you do know how much to use!

  • Duni October 20, 2015, 21:58

    Spicy chocolate squares – yes please!
    In winter I supplement my regular meals with high-calorie energy drinks from the healthfood store – otherwise I would burn off too much too quickly. Another reason I don’t like the cold :-/
    I’m more of a short distance runner…

    • Natashalh October 21, 2015, 08:00

      Being cold does take a whole lot of energy! And I’m with you on the short distances. At least this relay race is broken up into smaller chunks of 3-5 miles…hopefully I can handle that by next fall!

  • Julie October 20, 2015, 23:32

    Ooh, am definitely going to try this at home…! I need to start tracking my food and making sure I’m eating enough of everything, what do you use to accurately track..?

    • Natashalh October 21, 2015, 08:03

      I use My Fitness Pal. It’s sort of frustrating and it took me a couple weeks to get used to, but I’ve used it every day for several months now. I actually have a post on how to get started tracking macros!


      It can be annoying and awkward in social situations, but it’s made a huge difference in my life.

      • Margaret March 10, 2018, 03:10

        I got frustrated with My Fitness Pal and now use Cron-o-meter. It has a learning curve but tracking macros and anything else is much easier. You can even type in recipes and it will calculate nutrients per serving for you.

        • Natasha March 10, 2018, 10:32

          I haven’t heard of that one – I’ll have to look into it! Though I have a nearly 1000 day streak on MFP so I’m not quite ready to switch to something else until I can get a screenshot of that ‘achievement’ 😉

  • D. Renée Wilson October 21, 2015, 04:39

    I adore spicy chocolate! Your photos are really fantastic, too. 😀
    I used to run 1/2s and fulls, and I trained for my first 1/2 in under 8 weeks. (Herniated discs keep me from distance training now, but I still do it occasionally against doc’s recs. 😉 )
    If you are running 2-3 x’s a week- example 1 tempo run, 1 day of speed work, and one long, slow run (add mileage weekly), you will be just fine. Lots of training plans are free online. 🙂

    • Natashalh October 21, 2015, 07:59

      Wow – congrats on your running accomplishments! And thank you for liking my photos. =)
      Honestly…I just can’t see myself doing most of the training schedules I’ve seen. I guess that’s part of the problem! I run very slowly because, if I don’t, I get horrible pains in my right side. I have scoliosis and my right ribs are compressed while my left ribs stick out. I’m actively doing physical therapy to help correct my scoliosis and it’s helping some, but for now I have to run at a total snail’s pace. A 5k in under under 40 minutes is a good day for me. =p

  • Olena@iFOODreal October 22, 2015, 06:21

    Hi Natasha. These squares are absolutely genius! I love your blog, I’m so happy you stopped by my lentils.:) You are so pretty and have very similar outlook on health and life. Sorry about your dad. I could sort of relate so I understand how your world flipped upside down.:( I impugning this and will follow your journey. Take care.

    • Natashalh October 22, 2015, 06:49

      Thank you so much for stoping by and for the kind comment! You put a smile on my face this morning. =)

  • Karla ponve January 14, 2017, 17:58

    This tastes like nothing. It definitely needs more honey or sugar. I had to throw the whole batch away. I may try it again adding stevia to make it sweet. what a waste of ingredients

    • Natashalh January 14, 2017, 20:19

      Sorry you didn’t care for them. We consume virtually no added sugar and very little naturally occurring sugar, so they were popular at home for me. If you’re not used to such a low sugar taste, then you might want to add more. Also, if they taste like ‘nothing,’ you might want to check to make sure your spices are fresh. Pepper and cinnamon can both go pretty flat tasting fairly quickly!

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