If there is one thing a cold winter evening is synonymous with, it has to be a steaming mug of hot chocolate. All of us have our special ways to enjoy hot chocolate, be it sprinkled with salt, some cinnamon powder, topped with cream, marshmallows, or many, many more combinations.
Or, you can enjoy hot chocolate with minimal ingredients. Let the pure notes of cocoa hit like a wave, wash your palate and soul with its soothing aromas and lull you into soporific contentment. Add to this a heart warming book, and a crackling fireplace, and the picture is complete.
It does help to know that cocoa has been shown to have multiple health benefits. The flavanols present in cocoa are responsible for initiating a complex set of chemical reactions. This lends several protective effects to the body, such as, improvement in endothelial function, (useful in keeping arteries healthy) improvement in platelet health and also exerts beneficial influence on blood pressure, blood lipids as well as insulin resistance. Research findings also point to the type of cocoa that has the maximum benefits. It is the dark chocolate which is most useful followed by cocoa powder.
Any wonder then, that liquid cocoa was called ‘Theo broma’ – the drink of the Gods? So, this winter, let’s raise a toast to this dark, alluring, liquid which is a gift from the Gods themselves. Who are we to decline their Blessings!
Milk chocolate or white chocolate do not create any of these desired chemical changes in the body. So to derive the best advantage that cocoa has to offer, be sure to indulge in a small piece of the darkest chocolate you can find. Hey wait, does that mean you can eat chocolate daily? Yes and no. Yes to the darkest chocolate bar you can find. Best would be one with 70% or 80% cocoa. Yes to eating a small piece of this daily. How small? Well, about a thumb size piece is fine. No to eating uncontrolled amounts. No to a sugar overload from eating sweet chocolate. Cocoa does not have sugar, but chocolate has. Remember this, while indulging.
If finding such a chocolate bar is not possible, despair not. Cocoa powder offers some of the advantages of dark chocolate. So go ahead and make yourself a mug of steaming hot cocoa to drink up.
At our home, we like hot chocolate made with just natural unsweetened cocoa powder. Some steamed milk to carry it off and sugar to sweeten the deal for the children. A teeny-weeny drop of vanilla extract to elevate the drink to heavens. Call me a purist, but any cream added seems to take away from delivering that punch. Any other added flavour a deterrent to enjoying pure cocoa bliss. This is how we nurse our favourite winter beverage.
How do you down yours? I would love to hear from all of you. Do write in with your favourite recipes of hot chocolate.
- Contains lactose from milk. People with lactose intolerance can substitute almond or soya milk instead of dairy milk in this recipe.
- Does NOT contain gluten. I used Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa powder. This product does not have gluten. Check labels if you are using any other cocoa powder or drinking chocolate.
Preparation Time – 2 minutes, Cooking Time – 5 minutes, Serves – 2.
Cookware – 2 Small saucepans, spoon, 2 mugs to serve
- 2 cups skim milk
- 3-4 tsp Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1-2 tsp sugar. Use as per taste.
- 2 drops vanilla extract
- Place the milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- In a different pan, add the cocoa powder and sugar. Stir to remove lumps. Tip in the vanilla extract.
- Pour in the boiling milk into the saucepan with cocoa+sugar mixture. Stir well with a spoon. If you want some theatrical action, you can mix the beverage by pouring the milk back and forth between the two saucepans as rapidly as you can. Without spilling, of course.
- Pour into 2 mugs, put your feet up and relax. Enjoy the steaming mug of hot ‘Theo-broma’.