Monday, November 8, 2010

Cold Weather... time for Cocoa

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)
-black pepper
-red pepper

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.



  1. I make my own hot cocoa too. I tried Alton Brown's instant hot cocoa recipe for starters....

    But of course I messed around with it!

  2. Of course you did. :)

    I made cocoa on Saturday for Leez and Ya-ya... they were very happy.

    Then they proceeded to devour almost all of our Trader Joe's Peanut butter cups...