Cocoa Loco

by Jeanne

Sweetsere What I’m about to share will come as a big surprise to some.  So here it is–I’ve been coffee-free for 11 days.  My health practitioner suggested I go caffeine-free due to an overly stressed work lifestyle.  But let’s have a sanity check.  Giving up coffee, caffeine (he also suggested wine) is in my book the life of a monk. Fuhgetaboutit. One step at a time.  So coffee was the first attempt of the new year to get healthy–for now all else will be in moderation.

The first day was rough.  I don’t know how hard-core drug addicts get clean.  I was a monster.  By day four I was with out the symptoms that were aggravating my heath–chest pains, shortness of breath–i.e. stress/anxiety attacks.

During this same period it has been raining  cats and dogs in San Francisco.  This induces a desire to read and to drink my new found (but occasionally!) replacement–hot chocolate.

It seems warm drinkable chocolate is the trendy drink of choice. It could be due to the nostalgia and childhood memories it evokes but if you haven’t had an ‘adult hot chocolate’ it’s time to grow up.

Many cultures say that consuming chocolate can build strength, health, faith and passionate bouts.  Montezuma drank 50 cups a day of Aztec hot chocolate laced with chiles and cinnamon.  It must be all those antioxidants.

Hot chocolate is a creamy blend of melted solid chocolate and milk or half-and-half as David Lebowitz suggests in his new book, "The Great Book of Chocolate."  Naturally the higher the milk fat content the creamier it will be. However, if a stronger chocolate taste is what you are after replacing the milk with hot water yields a strong mug of chocolate. Many Mexicans and Europeans drink their chocolate in this manner and use a bittersweet chocolate.  This is my preferred cup as it is rich and complex.  But again this is from someone who think milk just dilutes the chocolate.

Hot cocoa is derived from cocoa powder, sugar, milk or water. Cocoa powder is a substance that has had most of its cocoa butter removed. 

Recently, taste authority, David Rosengarten shared his Hot Chocolate Picks.  On his list is also one of my new favorites, MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolate, which was a holiday gift from my friend C.   This spicy, medium dark chocolate (63% cacao) is made from Venezuelan beans.  Cinnamon, nutmeg and chipotle make up the spice blend.

Even Starbucks is celebrating the Aztec origins of drinking hot chocolate with "Chantico" drinking chocolate.  Names for the goddess of hearth and fire who provided homes with comfort and heat for cooking.

However one of the strongest food memories I have is of the "frrrozen hot chocolate" at New York’s Serendipity3. A complex blend of over six types of chocolate, which they have been serving up for 50 years to celebrities from Andy Warhol to Jennifer Love Hewitt.  I’ve included a link below to the recipe or you can order pre-mixed packets.   

Also Tasting Menu has a write up on chocolatier Jacque Torres’s hot chocolate and it includes pictures.

Image Credit:  Sweet Serendipity (anniversary cookbook)