Who doesn’t enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate at this time of year?
Well, besides you, Australia.
Hot chocolate/ hot cocoa is simply the most comforting thing on the planet. Besides the obvious qualifier (chocolate), the warm, creamy, dessert-like quality of this beverage makes it one of the world’s most well-loved cold weather treats.
And here’s something you should know:
Hot chocolate/cocoa should really only contain 3 to 4 ingredients. Cocoa, Milk, Sugar, and maaaaybe some vanilla to round out the cocoa flavour.
Simple is best, no?
So why oh why do our favourite brands of store-bought cocoa contain 14-18 ingredients on average??!?
Many of these almost unpronounceable chemicals are meant to stabilize the product and give it a longer lasting shelf life. Some of the chemicals are used to help the other ingredients survive the processing it takes to create instant cocoa. Others add texture and flavour. None of these facts mean that these chemicals need to be part of your diet.
In our insta-ready world, something as simple as hot chocolate is comforting not just because of the way it tastes and feels, but because it’s usually as easy as boiling a kettle, opening a packet, and stirring. But if you’re willing to spend 5 minutes simmering a pot instead of a kettle, you’ll be eliminating all those extra processing/stabilizing/milk-like-texture-creating chemicals out of your drink, and out of your body.
In a saucepan, pour 1.5 Cups of milk…
You can measure how much you’ll need into your mug, then pour that into your pot on the stove. Add a wee bit extra to compensate for evaporation while you heat it up to steaming hot. Use almond or soy milk as an alternative to dairy.
… 1 heaping spoonful (or more) of cocoa…
Depending on how dark you like your chocolate, you can add more or less. Alternatively, you could melt in 1/2 bar of dark chocolate if you’re a decadent chef. Check the ingredient list to make sure you’re not adding anything you don’t want.
… Sugar to taste…
Some people like theirs sweeter than others. Cocoa is bitter – add 1/2 spoonful of sugar first, stir, taste, and add more if you like. We like to use raw sugar, seeing as how we are trying to eliminate unnecessary chemicals here. Use whatever works for you, including alternatives like agave nectar or honey.
… and finally, feel free to add another flavour or extract to create something special.
We are big fans of a strong cocoa flavour with a slight sweetness. Oldschool cocoa = yum. A hint of vanilla will soften this into a more milk chocolate flavour. Chilli pepper is quite traditional, as is a dash of cinnamon. Adults could try Amaretto, Schnapps, or Irish Cream too!
Stir over medium heat with a whisk until heated and fully combined
This should take about 5-6 minutes. If you find that you tend to burn your milk at the bottom of the pan, reduce your heat, or try a double boiler.
You’re still turning on the stove to make your hot chocolate, just doing a bit more stirring than the instant way. Isn’t it worth it to eliminate all that chemical stuff from your food? It’s not always easy to eliminate chemicals from your diet, but with something as simple as hot chocolate (or bread), it’s a very small change in the way you prepare your food in exchange for a huge reward.