Posted by: A Part of the Solution | February 6, 2010

Hot Chocolate from Cacao Nibs

I like chocolate and everything theobrominal. I like it a lot. Is it because I’m a woman? Is it because I’m fond of bitter foods? Is it because I love the versatility of this New World superstar in my kitchen? For all of these reasons and more (texture, nutritional profile, &tc, &tc), I just adore the stuff.

I like my chocolate chocolaty. Like 72% cocoa solids or better in my snacking bar choices (65% if there are nuts in, gotta’ leave room for the nuts). Like cutting back on the sugar so I can taste the chocolate properly. Like adding hot pepper flakes or cayenne to my homemade brownies, hot fudge sauce and mocha bundt cake since the one indigenous food ingeniously complements the other.

But many recipes for hot chocolate suggest only one half ounce of chocolate for every serving (and some don’t call for even that much). What is that about? Who could possibly consider that an adequate ratio of chocolate to everything else? Where’s the comfort in that hot, comforting beverage?

This is how I’ve taken to making hot chocolate the last few winters. I keep the ingredients in my pantry as cold weather staples. Raw Cacao Nibs can be found in natural food stores and online. So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Cacao Nibs Hot Chocolate

2 oz or 1/2 cup raw cacao nibs (chocolate nibs is their other name, but not chocolate chips)

3-4 almonds chopped, or 1 TBSP slivered

1 fat pinch red pepper flakes

1/8 – 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch salt

2-1/2 oz or 1/3 cup + 1 TBSP vanilla sugar (stick a vanilla bean in the sugar for a couple of weeks and leave it there, topping up with more sugar as necessary)

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sweetened, condensed milk

1-1/4 cup milk

Grind the first 5 items together in a spice grinder or mini-blender–and don’t be shy about grinding it all as fine as Turkish coffee powder.
Whisk the sugar and water together with the cacao mixture in a small saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until the lumps are gone. Bring to the boil and allow to boil moderately for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Whisk in the condensed milk, bring back to the boil and boil 3 minutes.
Add the milk, lower the heat and heat through. Strain through a fine mesh sieve if you don’t like a slightly gritty glob of sweetened, chocolaty sludge in the bottom of your hot chocolate mug. Serve immediately with or without whipped cream and/or mini marshmallows
Serves 2, multiplies nicely.

VEGAN version: Add 1/2 oz or 1-1/2 TBSP sugar more. Substitute 1tsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 TBSP water for the condensed milk, and boil for 5 minutes, moderately. Substitute almond milk for cow/goat milk.

I DON’T HAVE ANY CONDENSED MILK version: substitute cow/goat milk for almond milk in the VEGAN version.

I’M ALLERGIC TO NUTS version: leave out the chopped (slivered) almonds and if vegan or milk intolerant substitute rice milk or soy milk or oat milk for the almond milk.


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