Monday, October 12, 2009

The Perfect Cup of Hot Cocoa



We stood in the pouring rain, freezing for nearly an hour friday night to watch my daughter's final marching band performance and participate in the senior send-off ceremony. Because of the cold, wind, and rain, most of the balloons we let fly ended up on the ground on the end of the football field.

 Ordinarily this would have been a sad time for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute as a stay at home mom raising my kids, and this school year is full of lasts. Because my youngest are twins, it's double lasts. Last marching band performance, last open houses to attend,(they go to different schools),  last set of teacher conferences, last homecoming dance, etc. They really do grow up too fast. The best, most fulfilling part of my life is drawing to a close. Soon they won't need me anymore and as college approaches they won't have much time to spend with me. And while that's killing me inside, it's as it should be. My oldest son will always need me because of his disabilities, but if I've done my job right, the others won't need me. They'll be able to stand on their own and take care of themselves.

What makes this easier for me is that I truly like and respect the people my children have turned out to be. And it didn't hurt that it was rainy and cold; I despise cold weather and couldn't wait to get warm. So instead of thinking sad thoughts, I was thinking how good a nice hot cup of cocoa would be.

The perfect cup of cocoa is very simple. It should have only three ingredients- milk, cocoa and cane sugar. Some people add mint, vanilla, cinnamon or other flavorings; I've even had cocoa with a dash of hot pepper in it. But they detract from the soothing, glorious cocoa flavor. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

Cocoa is one of the easiest things to make, so don't buy the little pre-measured envelopes.  They contain unhealthy trans-fats and other nasties that don't belong in hot cocoa in order to mask the use of inferior ingredients. Here's what is in Nestle hot cocoa:


SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.

Often marshmallows which are also full of nasty ingredients are added to try and improve the flavor of their cheap ingredients.(and marshmallows aren't vegetarian)  If I wish to garnish my hot cocoa the only thing I use is real whipped cream.

Use the best quality non-dutched cocoa you can find. (I use Rapunzel-it's organic, non-alkaline, and fair trade.) Dutch process cocoa has been processed with an alkali. This greatly reduces the flavonoid content of the cocoa, making it far less healthful as well as less flavorful. Numerous studies have shown that flavonoids are beneficial to cardiovascular health. Cocoa is also a good source of potassium, magnesium and fiber.

Perfect Hot Cocoa
1 c. milk
2 T. non-alkaline cocoa
1 T. cane sugar

Make a paste of cocoa, sugar and 2 T. of milk. Heat the rest of the milk, then whisk into cocoa paste till frothy. Garnish with a tablespoon of whipped cream if desired.

Whipped Cream
8 oz. heavy cream
2 T. raw honey (or you can sub 1/4 c. confectioners sugar)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whip cream till it begins to thicken, add sweetener and vanilla and whip till stiff.

Head on over to Momtrends where this recipe has been linked and check out her fabulous Friday Feast linkup.

11 comments:

My Man's Belly October 12, 2009 at 12:08 PM  

One of my all time favorites - a simple cup of hot cocoa. It's dark and cloudy here today...I might just have to whip up a cup of your recipe.

Debbie October 12, 2009 at 12:29 PM  

Mmmmmmmm! That looks utterly delicious. I LOVE hot cocoa - my mom used to make it like this and it was always such a treat... Makes me feel like a kid with whipped cream on top.

Rebecca October 12, 2009 at 1:06 PM  

i needed this recipe!! thanks:)

Claudia October 12, 2009 at 4:44 PM  

This is the perfect recipe for a snowy day (yes, it's snowing). I do remember going through the "lasts" with my youngest and oldest. There's still a college event here and there and it is very exciting to see the adults-to-be. It's bittersweet. And you are right to just savor.

5 Star Foodie October 12, 2009 at 8:31 PM  

Hot cocoa sounds wonderful! I would love to have some right now!

lululu October 13, 2009 at 11:58 PM  

oh, i just need that! in a cool fall evening!

Nicole Feliciano October 16, 2009 at 12:07 PM  

Oh, it is rainy and 40 degrees here in NYC, I could use this today. I hope you take a moment to link up to my recipe swap over at Momtrends. Here's the link:

http://momtrends.blogspot.com/2009/10/friday-food-roasted-parsnips.html

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates October 17, 2009 at 1:08 PM  

I love the recipe, but I also love your post - sweet memories! Thanks for linking up!

Kateri October 18, 2009 at 9:01 PM  

Interesting you say that dutched cocoa is less flavorful. Like you I make my own hot cocoa--milk, raw brown sugar, and cocoa. Pre-made mixes can't compare to homemade as far as flavor goes. But I have tried several different kinds of cocoa and keep coming back to the dutched cocoa, both my husband and I think it tastes much better then non dutched cocoa. I knew it was more processed, but didn't know exactly what was done to it. Maybe it is time to start looking for another brand of non dutched cocoa...

janet October 19, 2009 at 8:16 AM  

Hi Kateri,
When cocoa is dutched it's treated with and akali and this changes the ph so it doesn't react with baking soda. If you are baking with it you need to use baking powder. This processing that neutralizes the acid also mellows the flavor and darkens the color.

Natural cocoa (un-dutched) should be used with baking soda when baking.

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