Eventually, the idea of hot chocolate appealed to me when nothing else would. Usually, some other substitute will suffice for these occasions, but I’m fine with cocoa. If you can’t have coconut or almonds/tree nuts, obviously you will have to come up with substitutes. Do as you will. This will still work. I think.
Hot cocoa is tricky because frequently you wind up with something gritty and tasteless with little flecks of cocoa on your lips. This is kinda frustrating, fruitless and nasty.
However, this version I made up on the fly worked perfectly, when so many recipes have failed before. Maybe it’s the combination of almond and coconut that made it. I used a combination because I ran out of almond milk today and just added the coconut. But I think this is really something.
I know Diamond puts out a coconut/almond beverage combo, and I think that would work nicely too. There’s something about the combination of fats in both of these that has a nice synergy and works really well with the chocolate.
FYI I made this in one of those massive 16 oz coffee mugs, just like those in which I bake the mini-cakes. This may seem like a lot of powdered cocoa, but trust me. With all that yummy fat coating your tongue, you’ll need it.
Margot’s Ad Hoc Hot Cocoa
- 2 tbs of Bakers cocoa (I used Trader Joe’s)
- 1 tbs of carob powder (this adds a nice milk chocolate layer of taste to it)
- 1 tbs of protein powder (had to have some concession to health– I used unsweetened Plain from PlantFusion)
- 1 tbs of coconut sugar
- 2 packets of Nectresse
- approx. 1/3 cup of almond milk 1 (almond Silk or equivalent… Whole Foods has a nice one)
- approx. 1 cup (or more) of coconut beverage (I used so delicious unsweetened)
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- a few drops or 1/16th of a teaspoon of vanilla extract (Rodale Burbon Organic)
- 1/16 of a teaspoon of chocolate extract (optional)
- 1 sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
Get mug. Put measure out your dry ingredients except the Nectresse and dump them in the mug. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly. You will get a dry powdery pile that looks like your favorite memories of Swiss Miss. This step is important, because the protein powder mixed in with the chocolate makes the later stages much easier.
Pour in your almond milk. Stir well, but don’t sweat the lumps too much, you’ll just strain something. 😉 Slowly add your coconut milk while stirring gently until it’s full enough to convince you it’s a mug of cocoa, but not so full that you’ll spill it everywhere when you pull out the Big Guns of Blending.
At this stage, the powder and the liquid seem to want to blend about as much as oil and water. The spoon turns out to be an exercise in frustration. So, go get your whisk. [Dramatic Flourish. ] Use whisk to froth and blend as much as you can. If you have some small lumps, don’t worry about it, just make sure you get the big ones. Now add the Nectresse and the extracts.
Stir again. My favorite technique with the whisk is the same one Hispanic grandmothers use to make Mexican Hot Chocolate… Hold the whisk handle between your palms and gently rotate the handle back and fourth. That’s a great way to start– and it makes this fantastic texture that you can’t seem to get any other way. You can work up to a fair degree of speed if you are careful, but frankly starting slow is really the most effective. Be patient– it’s really kind of a meditative zen experience. Think of it as a tea ceremony for Americans.
Once you have a nice froth, and tiny lumps… Set up Chef Mike for 2 minutes (on my insanely hot Hot Box… try three if you have a 10000 watt version) And nuke for a minute.
It’s ok if you zone out like I did and grab it with 40 seconds remaining– heck it might work better. Anyway, take it out of the microwave. Oddly, I did not need an oven mitt– which is a good thing, because I forgot.
Take out your handy whisk and whisk like a Mexican Grandmother. Watch in amazement as the lumps effortlessly melt into a rich creamy beverage. If you don’t want it hotter, feel free to drink now. If you really like it warmer, go ahead and get those 40 seconds and it should turn out about perfect. Add the cinnamon if you care to. Stir again if you can stand the wait.
If you don’t have the 12000 watt powerhouse, [ 🙂 ] I’d say stop it around two minutes and continue as I described.
This again might not be sweet enough for some people. The cocoa really takes up the sugar. You could add some agave or rice syrup at this point and use the whisk to combine. Only do this while hot, or nuke before you stir things with the syrup in… otherwise there will be a mess. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
As you can see, it’s absurdly creamy, and comes out tasting remarkably like those powdery mixes that are oh, so good– except this is much chocolatier. It has a slight dark- chocolate bitter note that some people don’t like, but I find it a refreshing relief against the creamy richness. That’s really saying something since my stomach still thinks that anything other than sweet chocolate is anathema.
If you really don’t like that bitterness– add more carob at the beginning, with less chocolate. (Start with half tablespoon of each…instead of the second heaping helping of cocoa) You won’t loose much chocolatey flavor, and it will taste milkier somehow. About the chocolate extract: you don’t *need* it, but it does add an extra dimension of chocolately goodness to the experience. If you don’t have that, try something that’s a compliment to the chocolate taste– like hazelnut or almond, or even cherry extract. Nutmeg or Star Anise (ground) might work too. Next time I plan on adding some Frangelico to see what happens. Yum!
Also, I think a touch of butter flavor might help push it over the edge, but that’s only if you don’t mind the addition of artificial stuff. It’s perfectly good as it is.
EDIT: For some reason WP is being cranky about my photograph. I thought it worked before, but it intermitently comes up as a broken link. Click on it, and you should get a huge version of the intended picture. I’m still trying to fix this, so bear with me. Thanks!
EDIT II: FIXED! Ok, I have come to the conclusion that WP’s JPG support is buggy and I’m not going to use them ever again. No more lazy-pants photographer here.