When I first wrote about hot chocolate I had just started writing in Comfy Belly, we were snowed in, and the only ingredients I had on hand was a bag of chocolate chips and some goat milk.
Since then, and after much experimentation with cocoa and different kinds of milk, I offer you a simple recipe for a cup of hot cocoa. I started out using the fudge popsicles recipe, which is fairly simple to begin with, and then simplified it even more.
The inspiration for this soothing sweet treat came from a trip we took to Mexico in 2009. I was searching around for something to drink the first morning and came across a black cast cauldron labeled “Hot Chocolate”. I lifted the top and the aroma of chocolate and cinnamon wafted up and around me. For the rest of the vacation I consumed this chocolate drink at every meal. And it was about 80 degrees F outside in the shade.
My method here is not quite authentic. To find out a bit more about real Mexican hot chocolate using a chocolate disc and a molinillo (Spanish for whisk), go here. If you don’t have a molinillo, you can just use a whisk or an immersion blender to get the desired effect.
Tips I use non-alkaline cocoa for baking and drinking, however you can use Dutch-processed cocoa as well. The Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated with an alkaline agent (potassium carbonate) that helps the cocoa to dissolve more easily in liquid, gives it a milder flavor (not as bitter), and neutralizes the acidic chemical compounds in cocoa. Just for the record, I was able to dissolve the non-alkaline cocoa in the liquid mixture by stirring it while it was heating up.
Note Since we’re on the subject of cocoa, it’s important to know the difference between natural and alkalized cocoa powder when baking. If you’re baking with cocoa powder, you’ll want to figure out which kind of cocoa the recipe is calling for. The recipe may require acidic cocoa (non-alkalized) to react with baking soda so it can leaven (rise, producing carbon dioxide). If you’re fascinated by the science of baking and cooking, check out On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, and some others.
As with many of the drinks and smoothies I make, any left-overs go into pop molds in the freezer. You can also turn this into chocolate milk and store in the refrigerator for a few days. And try topping the hot cocoa with some maple whipped cream (recipe included below) and a pinch of cocoa powder. I didn’t have a cinnamon stick, but that would be a great drink stirrer to include.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Ingredients (makes about 2 drinks)
- 1 cup of milk (cow, coconut, almond, goat – you name it)
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of honey (or maple syrup, or other sweetener)
- 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- pinch of chili or cayenne pepper (optional)
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all the ingredients and mix until well blended – about 5 minutes.
- Enjoy. And don’t forget to slurp!
Maple Whipped Cream
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
Place the cream and syrup together in a bowl and whip for several minutes, on a high speed, using a hand mixer or Kitchen Aid with the whip attachment. Store any extra whipped cream in the refrigerator for a few days.