Not too long ago, a Very Important Young Person asked if I could make a “chocolate soap.” Without hesitation, I said “You bet.”
After several days of scrambling around madly developing an appropriate gentle recipe (there may be allergen issues, and I wanted to make a shea- and cocoa-butter-free soap), researching and ordering fragrances, and trying to memorize a new technique, “Chocolate Cream Pie” was born. What’s pretty amazing is that I used no colorants at all for the “chocolate” part of the soap. I discovered through my research that chocolate fragrances necessarily contain vanilla, and that fragrances and essential oils that contain vanilla, or its man-made counterpart vanillin, will change the color of a soap all by themselves. That’s about as good an example of alchemy as I can come up with, incidentally, and I was counting on it. I wanted to keep the recipe as simple as possible.
But when this soap was first unmolded, a day after it was made, I thought I’d messed up. Sure, the pH was perfect, there was no separation, and it cut like a well-mannered soap should. But the color of the chocolate part was barely tan, much like a butterscotch pudding. To Unbelievably Useful Husband’s eternal credit, he didn’t say a word about The Pretty Obvious Color Problem as I babbled on, secretly appalled, about how I’d read that the fragrance I’d used would eventually darken the soap to the shade I’d hoped for.
Of course, as I put the soap up to cure, I was mentally pulling my hair out.
A day later it had turned at least two shades darker and the Lab smelled like a chocolate factory. And now, about two weeks in — it needs at least two more weeks to cure — it’s starting to look like what I’d imagined. Of all the lofty philosophical ideas that have been kicking me around lately, the strongest is the one that says “Shut up and wait.”