November's here. Daylight Savings is here. And at this very moment, it's raining outside. Cold, Dark, and Rainy. And few things make such days bearable like good cocoa.
I've done a lot of experimenting with making cocoa... what to mix in, what to leave out. I've even managed to make a really good cocoa using soy milk... but that's another story. I've settled on a few basics.
-Cocoa powder. I've used instant cocoa, I've used valrhona powdered bittersweet chocolate. There is a difference. But there's more to good cocoa than just the powder that's used. If you have the money, and you're a serious chocolate fiend, feel free to spend the extra cash.
-Use whole milk. Lowfat milk is acceptable skim will do, and even soy milk can be remarkably not bad, in a pinch. Don't make cocoa with water if you can help it.
-Sweeten with honey, not sugar. It's thicker, which helps, and the flavor is a lot mellower, and richer. Honey is the key ingredient for those of you who can't stomach milk, as it will even make soy milk work in this recipe.
-A splash of vanilla extract, if you have it. Coffee Liqueur is even better.
-A dash of chili powder. I know, I know, it sounds downright blasphemous. But chili-cocoa is a reason to Believe. The flavors blend in truly unexpected ways, and I, for one, have been unable to go back to regular cocoa. Use a small amount, and add carefully.
I've had some success with other additives in moderation, such as:
-raspberry jam (I think this is one of the things that helped the soymilk recipe work)
Last, and most important ingredient: Time.
Good cocoa is like a good hug. It's not something that's properly savored or enjoyed on the fly, or while working.