By Alicia de los Reyes of The Well Fed Network – The wind finally howls outside and you realize your most vital appendages–your fingers–have gone numb. The solution? Hot cocoa, of course. However, perhaps by now your trans fat fear (coupled with a New Year’s resolution?) has encompassed the entire pantry. No longer can you pull a shiny foil packet of liquid chocolate deliciousness without a twinge of guilt. Never fear! There are many delicious alternatives to cocoa mix (delightful as that Land O’Lakes Deluxe is…).
The rumors about the antioxidants to be had in hot cocoa are true. Cocoa is a rich source of free radical capturers. You may enjoy your cocoa in good health–but with a caveat. Research has revealed that you benefit the most from cocoa made without milk. Egads, mon! What is to be done? Your fearless drink doctoress has cooked up several delightful antioxidant-filled, milk-free alternatives to the usual chocolate in a cup. They are all made with plain old unsweetened cocoa and water. You will undoubtedly be just as happy with the taste of these drinks as you will with yourself for being so darn healthy.
Method (for all cocoa): Put a mug-ful of water on to boil. Pull out your favorite mug and put in some cocoa, sugar, salt, and other ingredients for the variation of your choice. When the water boils, pour just enough into the mug to make a paste. Unless you’re using a Cosi-sized container, you won’t need more than two to three tablespoons. Stir the mixture quickly until it is smooth. Finally add the rest of the water and stir to dissolve the paste. Sip until satiated.
Basic Cocoa Base:
- 2-3 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 2-3 Tbsp sugar
- Dash salt
- Aztec Cocoa: Add 1/8 tsp chili or cayenne pepper, and a sprinkle of cinnamon if you like.
- Peanut Butter Cup Cocoa: Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and 2 rounded teaspoons of peanut butter.
- Gingerbread Cocoa: Substitute 1 Tbsp molasses and 1 Tbsp brown sugar for the sugar in your cocoa base. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and ground cloves.
These make excellent dipping chocolates–serve them alongside biscotti or shortbread cookies at a party. I like to drink this after a long, cold run myself. It’s not as rich or as thick as the usual hot chocolate and so I feel refreshed without feeling weighed down. Enjoy!