Warm Up with Hot Chocolate
It's that time of year again; the rain is falling, the air is getting cooler, the leaves are changing, and as for me...I'm just trying to cope with the change. It seems that overnight the temperatures went from warm and breezy to cold and windy, and where I used to meet the morning with an ice cold smoothie; I now find myself searching for comfort in something warm to drink. Now as much as I hate to admit it, I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to hot chocolate, and since becoming a vegan I have avoided drinking it altogether because I just hadn't found any of the ones I had tried to be thick enough, rich enough, velvety enough to include as part of my morning ritual. And I know I shouldn't turn to food for comfort but in this case I will make an exception. Why? Because my body is begging to be warm, that's why, lol.
Enter my new best friend, coconut milk. I love everything coconut and as a vegan, coconut and its many forms has saved my life. Yes, I'm being dramatic but hey, coconut has made the seemingly impossible, possible for so many of my favorite dishes. As much as I can, I make my milk fresh because it contains lots of vitamins and enzymes that can get lost in processing, but if you have a hectic schedule and would rather take the easy route by using canned milk, who am I to judge you :). If you'd like to make your own coconut milk, I have provided the recipe down below.
Now on to the star of the show [insert drum roll] HOT CHOCOLATE!!! This treat literally takes seconds to make, and it perfect on any occassion. Whether you top it with whipped cream, marshmallows, or nothing at all, this stuff is sure to knock your socks off. You will notice that I added both cinnamon and coffee extract to my batch. The cinnamon cuts the coconut taste and ads a depth of flavor that makes this concoction feel almost magical, and as for the coffee extract, it forces the cacao to boldly announce itself and claim its rightful place as the star of this drink. I encourage you to try it both with and without these profile enhancers, but I think you'll agree with me in the end that they are necessary. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Cheers!
2 cups coconut milk, or a 15oz can
3 tbsp cacao or cocoa
3 tbsp raw organic cane sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp coffee extract (optional, but it makes everything better)
Stove top: Heat milk to scalding, add all remaining ingredients, except for the coffee extract, and whisk briskly until smooth and creamy. Stir in coffee extract and enjoy.
High Speed Blender: Place all ingredients in your blender (I used my Vitamix here), blend for 90 seconds, and drink up.
Yields 2 - 8oz servings
COCONUT MILK RECIPE
Meat of one medium coconut
2 cups purified water
Place coconut meat and water in a high speed blender, blend for 60 seconds. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth or sieve, and enjoy. If you just want to drink the coconut milk all by itself, I suggest adding a small dash of pure vanilla extract. Enjoy!
*note, I prefer the blender method over the stove top method, as the blender adds this thick layer of foamy goodness on top like an espresso :).