Homemade Hot Cocoa

If you’ve never made hot chocolate from scratch, now is the time!  Zach Bowers introduces 4 made-from-scratch hot chocolate recipes for Andy and Jennifer to taste. Which will be Andy’s favorite? Which one will be yours? After watching this segment, try out the recipes for yourself and let us know your thoughts on these four, unique, hot chocolate varieties.


Health Benefits and Fun Facts!

Oh, those clever Mayans! We can thank them for having conceived a drinkable cocoa!

• Indeed, from the 16th to 19th centuries, hot chocolate was valued as a special drink, as well as taken as a medicine.  It was used “to fight against fits of anger and bad moods.”
• Modern research has discovered that chocolate reduces levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling anxious.
• Research shows us that antioxidants help prevent cancer, heart disease, age-related macular degeneration and aging in general because they fight free radicals in the body.
• The antioxidant concentration in hot cocoa is almost twice as strong as red wine. Cocoa’s concentration was two to three times stronger than that of green tea.
• More antioxidants are released when it’s heated up.
• Although a regular bar of chocolate has strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits may be outweighed because of the saturated fats present — cocoa generally has much less fat per serving compared to the 8 grams of fat in a standard chocolate bar.
• The flavonoids help your body process nitric oxide, which is why hot cocoa can improve blood flow, help lower your blood pressure, and improve heart health.

Making your own healthy versions from scratch couldn’t be easier.

Traditional Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
3 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, cut into small pieces

Heat milk to scalding in a medium saucepan, add vanilla, and let steep with the heat off for 10 minutes.  Strain and return milk to saucepan to reheat milk. (You can use 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract instead and skip the steeping process.) Whisk in chocolate until melted.

Coconut Hot Cocoa

• For dairy-free, sugar-free, nut-free diets this recipe may be as close as you get to cocoa nirvana. And for anyone else, if you’ve got the ingredients, this version is super salubrious and delicious.

3 tablespoons canned coconut milk
3/4 cup water
3 soft pitted Medjool dates
1 tablespoon cacao powder
Dash of cinnamon

Put all ingredients in the blender and puree until very smooth, gently heat in a pot on the
stove. Sip and dream of the tropics.

• Maple Cocoa

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt

Combine ingredients in a medium pot and warm on medium-low heat, whisking until
frothy and hot.

• Mexican Hot Cocoa

The original chocolate beverage lauded by the Mayans was a
bitter, spicy,  cold, ‘slush-like’ drink  and nothing like the Swiss Miss we have now.

Hot cocoa in Mexico and other southern realms retain the heat, which is very clever since chocolate and spice go together as well as any pair of flavors possibly could.

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon Sucanat (see note)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 pinch (or more, go crazy!) of cayenne

Combine ingredients in a medium pot and warm on medium-low heat, whisking until frothy and hot. Say “salud” to the Mayans for bringing us drinkable chocolate.

**Note: Sucanat is the trade name for “Sugar Cane Natural,” a non-refined cane sugar that is made by crushing sugar cane, extracting the juice then heating and drying it. It’s a more wholesome sweetener than refined sugar – but if you don’t have it, agave syrup, stevia, or regular sugar can be used instead.

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