By Eileen Goltz
It’s snowing outside, and the weathermen on TV are predicting a “snow-mageddon” in the next 24 hours. Frankly, looking out my window right now, I think the next ice age is what’s coming. Of course our snowblower decided that today was the day to give up the ghost. Returning from a one-and-a-half-hour trip (that would have taken only 20 minutes on a normal day) to the store for the sparkplugs necessary to fix the snowblower, I felt the need for–and obviously deserved–hot cocoa.
Hot cocoa–or hot chocolate if you prefer to use chocolate instead of cocoa powder–is a delicious hot beverage that turns even the grumpiest of abominable snowmen into contented couch potatoes. It typically consists of milk, sweet cream, half-and-half, or a nondairy equivalent, combined with sugar, honey, or sugar-free substitute, as well flavorings, candy, spices, marshmallows, or any combination you might desire.
There are two basic types of cocoa powder available to the consumer and they impart different flavors when used in recipes.
Cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans that are processed into cocoa liquor. Most of the cocoa butter (a fat) is then removed from the liquor, and what’s left is called cocoa press cake. This cocoa press cake is ground into cocoa powder. The cocoa powder that results from all this processing is called natural cocoa powder.
If you’re looking for a more intense cocoa flavor, you need to get Dutch-processed cocoa, cocoa that has been alkalized. Natural cocoa powder is used in cakes, cookies, and brownies recipes to give a deeply rich chocolate flavor and is an acid, so it needs baking soda to help activate the flavor. Dutch-processed cocoa is neutral so it requires baking powder or other acidic ingredients to activate the flavor. It’s a more subtle flavor of chocolate.
While I love to eat chocolate in any form, today it’s all about keeping it warm.
Note: I have created all these recipes using almond milk, rice milk, and non-dairy whipped topping, and while they’re not quite as rich-flavored, they are still delicious. v
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1—2 Tbsp. sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
pinch of salt
1 cup milk or any combination of milk, half-and-half, or cream
Â¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Whisk together the cocoa, sugar, salt, and about 2 tablespoons milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until cocoa and sugar are dissolved. Whisk in the rest of the milk and heat it over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it is hot. Stir in the vanilla and serve. If you like it frothy, blend it in the blender.
This recipe multiplies easily. When you get up to a quart of milk, use Â¼ teaspoon salt.
Modified from epicurious.com
4 squares of white-chocolate almond bark (candy-coated)
1 bag Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips
In a shallow dish, microwave the almond bark. Stir to make sure it’s smooth. Pour the peppermint chips into a shallow plate. Dip the rim of the cocoa cup in the melted chocolate, then dip it in the peppermint chips. Let cool, then pour the hot cocoa in the cup. This is delicious! Rims 4—6 cups with extra chips left over. (You can find Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips at most grocery stores.)
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1—2 Tbsp. flour
3—4 Tbsp. sugar (sweeten according to taste)
1 tsp. espresso powder or instant coffee
pinch of salt
â…” cup whipping cream
1Â½ cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
sweetened whipped cream or marshmallows
In a small bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, sugar, espresso powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.
In a saucepan, combine and simmer the cream just until it starts to bubble. Whisk the cocoa mixture into the warm cream. Whisk constantly for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Whisk over a low heat for 7—10 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Ladle into mugs and serve with the whipped cream or marshmallows.
Modified from tasteofhome.com
Mocha Orange Cocoa
With Grand Marnier Whipped Cream
Â½ cup chilled whipping cream
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, divided
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
4 cups whole milk
6 oz. bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped
3 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
Whisk cream, 1 tablespoon sugar, and Grand Marnier in medium bowl to soft peaks; cover and chill.
Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from oranges in strips; add strips to medium saucepan. (Reserve oranges for another use.) Add milk; bring just to simmer over medium heat. Add chocolate, espresso powder, cocoa powder, and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar; bring just to simmer, whisking to melt chocolate. Strain. Ladle mocha into 4 mugs. Top with whipped cream and ground coffee beans, if desired.
Recipe from the Bon AppÃ©tit Test Kitchen
Raspberry Hot Chocolate
3 cups whole milk
1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
2 tsp. sugar
Simmer the milk in a saucepan (do not boil). Place the raspberries, chocolate, and sugar in a blender and process to combine. When combined, leave the blender running and slowly pour the hot milk into the blender. You can strain the cocoa or serve it as is, topped with sweetened whipped cream or marshmallows.
Modified from yummly.com
Â© Eileen Goltz
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher foods writer. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes columns for the CJN in Chicago, kosherscoop.com, and the OU Shabbat Shalom website, www.ou.org. She also wrote the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim).