Thursday, April 2, 2015

Chocolate Patchouli Soap

Hear me out now.

Chocolate and patchouli are really good together, you guys.

What made me combine the two?

Well, my husband kinda gave me the idea. There was a bar of Geranium Patchouli soap in the bathroom. After he showered, he smelled faintly of patchouli. Then he put on some cocoa butter lotion. And I remarked that he smelled like chocolate and patchouli.

You can guess what happened next.

Off to my fragrance stash, where I knew I had some patchouli essential oil. But did I have anything chocolate-y?

Why, yes, I did. Bramble Berry's Chocolate Espresso Cybilla FO. Funny, I don't pick up any of the coffee notes in this scent. It just smells like chocolate to me. A Tootsie Roll, to be exact. Which worked out great for this soap.

For the fragrance ratio, I used the Chocolate Espresso at a 3:1 rate with the patchouli EO. So, for two pounds of oils, I used 1.5 ounces of the Chocolate Espresso and .5 ounces of patchouli. Looking back, I think I might enjoy a 1:1 ratio better. I was afraid to use too much patchouli because it is such a strong scent and I worried that it would overpower the chocolate. But the chocolate is pretty strong, too, and I mostly smell chocolate in the finished bars, although it seems that the patchouli blooms a bit when the soap is used.

The recipe is based on a Soap Queen guest post called "Sea Clay Avocado Facial Bar" written by Amanda at Lovin' Soap. I didn't use any sea clay, though, and I did swap out canola oil for the olive oil because gawd have you seen how much olive oil costs lately? And of course, I ran the recipe through a lye calculator after making the substitution.

Amanda's recipe includes a good amount of cocoa butter, which goes with the chocolate theme nicely. And I also colored the soap with a bit of cocoa powder at a rate of 1 teaspoon per pound of oil. So, I used 2 teaspoons total here and mixed the cocoa powder with a couple of Tablespoons of oil pulled from the total. I tested an end piece and the soap lathers white, so I think that is probably an okay amount to use. The Chocolate Espresso contains vanilla and discolors the soap brown anyway, but I thought that the cocoa powder would work nicely with the theme as well.

And speaking of cocoa butter, here's a "grate" tip I heard (I can't remember where) for making it easier to work with - use a cheese grater! Take those big chunks of rock-hard cocoa butter and grate them down into manageable shreds. Grate a whole bunch and store it in an airtight container. The cocoa butter shreds are easier to measure and they melt faster, too.

For this batch, I decided to make some gold mica lines, which I thought would look striking against the dark brown color of the soap. I poured about one-third of my batter into my mold and then propped the mold up at an angle with a couple of packs of playing cards. Then I spooned a bit of gold mica into a tea strainer and gently tapped out a light layer of mica onto the surface of the soap. It is important to just cover the surface and to not be heavy-handed - too much mica can make your layers separate.

After I made the first mica line, the plan was to spoon some more soap on top (being very careful not to disturb the mica line) and then tilt the mold the other way to make a line slanting the other direction. I opted to just leave the mold level, though, and to do a straight line, mostly because the soap batter was pretty thick at that point and not very fluid. So I made my second mica line, spooned the rest of the soap on top of it, and then finished it off by sprinkling a bit more gold mica and texturing the tops.

Then I insulated the mold with a towel and set it aside to let it gel. I admit that I have been known to peek at the soap during this stage. I'm glad I looked because the soap heated up pretty quickly and even started to crack a bit on top. So once the soap was in full gel phase, I removed the towel and the cover. Another reason I'm glad I peeked is because it allowed me to photograph the soap about halfway through gel phase. See how it's darker in the middle? The heat radiates from the center outward toward the edges, which is why your soap may get a dark circle in the middle if it only partially gels.

If you look closely, you can see droplets of moisture forming on top of the soap.

The soap developed some moisture on top, but the liquid wasn't zappy at all. I suspect that it was either fragrance oil or condensation from a very hot gel phase.  I let it sit for several days and the soap reabsorbed most of the liquid. When I went to unmold, the sides were a bit wet, too, but, again, it wasn't zappy, so I just blotted the loaf dry with a paper towel.

Here's a video of the making of this soap:

To the cut the soap, I laid the loaf on its side. Cutting from top-to-bottom can drag your mica line through the bar - cutting the soap on its side minimizes dragging and helps keep your mica lines cleaner.

I am very happy with how these bars turned out, and they smell so good. It was difficult not to lick the bowl while I was making this soap - it looked and smelled just like chocolate cake batter.

What are some of your favorite chocolate scent combinations?