Friday, June 30, 2017

Alternative Hot Chocolate

Instead of a chocolate review, today I have a story about hot chocolate for you. And yes, I realize that hot chocolate has a specific definition and what I am describing is technically hot cocoa--but that phrase sounds strange to use to me, so I'm sticking to hot chocolate as a broad term.

A while ago I gave my basic method for making hot chocolate. About three quarters of a cup of (almond) milk, a teaspoon of sugar or honey, a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder, and usually a sprinkle of cinnamon. Heat and mix it all together in a saucepan and there you go, simple as can be.

Then I came across the turmeric trend for golden milk. I'm not exactly one to go for healthy food trends (like kale or chia seeds), but turmeric certainly is healthy and I was curious enough to try out golden milk. I followed this recipe from Wellness Mama (I haven't used this website for anything else, by the way), except that I added more cinnamon and ginger than she suggested. I didn't add cayenne because I don't have any at home right now, although it would be interesting to how that tastes. And of course I used honey rather than maple syrup. She's not kidding about the fact that turmeric stains. Rather than bothering to use a blender, I just stirred everything in the saucepan, so the (copper) spoon that I used did end up more yellow in color. I don't really mind, but this is good to know before you stain something important.

I had some mild trepidation after hearing about the unusual earthy taste of turmeric, but I needn't have worried. I found this drink delicious, much like chai tea because of course they both have similar spices. The addition of cloves in the golden milk would probably even further this effect, though I've yet to try that.

What I have tried, however, is adding cocoa powder. Golden milk can be a nice alternative for hot chocolate when you're in the mood for something warm and flavorful but not quite hot chocolate. However, for more of a daily basis, hot chocolate is usually a welcome drink, so why not combine the two in order to get the benefits of the turmeric more often?

So here is what I have been doing. Same amount of milk, same amount of cocoa powder, same amount of honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a sprinkle of ginger, a sprinkle of turmeric, and a dash of ground pepper. You can try out small sprinkles of the spices and then increase the amount as much as you like. The drink ends up being a rich, warm brown. The way I make it, it still tastes mainly like hot chocolate, just with more spices. I may be entirely weird for liking it, but I find that it's such an enlivening drink full of plenty of nice flavor. Perfect for after dinner.

And the turmeric? I have noted one curious thing. I'd heard that turmeric could be good for your teeth (which of course sounds funny at first since it stains other surfaces yellow-orange). But whenever I drink either golden milk or even my turmeric hot chocolate, I notice that my teeth feel especially smooth afterward, like I just gave them a good cleaning. Interesting.

Even if you don't try out golden milk, I just want to use this space to encourage the blending of your own beverages. Find out what you like (hot? cold? milk-based? water-based? fruit-based? sweet? spicy? bitter?) and make it at home. It ends up costing less than buying ready-made drinks and gives you control over all the ingredients. And you can easily tweak your basic recipes every now and then for variety.

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