- 2 cups of ground, pure, unsweetend cocoa powder, preferably free trade.
- 3 TBSP of UNSALTED Butter. If butter doesn’t work for you, coconut oil can be substituted. It may change the taste slightly, but it’s a delicious difference. I actually encourage those who normally use butter to try the coconut oil option as well, since it really does impart a sweet, creamy flavor.
- scrapings of two (2) inches of vanilla bean pod, or two TSP of *real* vanilla extract. (See below for simple instructions on making your own vanilla extract!)
- ½ TSP your choice of nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, anise or allspice. Remember that nutmeg is not good for preggo mamas, so please choose one of the alternatives. I’m most fond of allspice in lieu of nutmeg.
- ½ to ¾ TSP chili powder
- 1 cup coffee (light) cream (OPTIONAL, Dairy free alternatives work well too.)
- 3 cups milk. You can use any milk here - cow’s, almond, rice, soy... if you don’t drink cow’s milk, I strongly suggest unsweetened original almond milk. It’s very creamy and infuses the cocoa with a delicious, subtle nutty flavor.
- Demerara or turbinado sugar to taste.
- Cinnamon sticks or candy canes for garnish
- Bourbon, whiskey or rum, or coffee liquore if so desired.
- Melt your butter or coconut oil in a deep sauce pan over medium heat. Do NOT heat to separation where it’s possible to skim the solids off the top. You want those oils to remain emulsified.
- Using a whisk, temper in your cocoa powder. The mixture will be very thick at this point.
- If using cream, whisk that in first. If you have a double boiler, now would be the time to transfer it to the double boiler. Otherwise, turn the heat down to low.
- Add in your vanilla and spices. Whisk well for two minutes to ensure spices are well distributed and have begun to release their aromatics before cooling the cocoa with your milk.
- At this point, your cocoa should have the look of a thick ganache, and should lightly coat a spoon when dipped in it.
- Temper in your milk sloooowly, whisking gently the entire time.
- Continue to heat on low. DO NOT bring to a simmer, but bring it close. At this point, add sugar to taste. I usually use ¾ a cup, but we like it sweet over here. Whisk until sugar is melted and well incorporated.
- Ladle into mugs, garnish with cinnamon sticks or candy canes, and enjoy! This would also be the point where you would add your alcohol, making sure to put the alcohol in the mug BEFORE the cocoa, and then gently stirring to mix thoroughly.
BONUS! HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN VANILLA EXTRACT
- 3 large vanilla beans
- 1 cup top shelf bourbon (I like Jim Beam Black.)
- Glass jar with tight-fitting lid - I recycle pasta sauce mason jars for infused oils, home made extracts like this, and a whole host of other uses.
- Cut a slice in the middle of each bean, leaving a bit at each end still connected so it looks something like this ()
- Place vanilla beans in your jar and cover with bourbon. Cap tightly.
- Storing the bottle in a dark, cool place, shake it once or twice a week for six to eight weeks.
- You may either strain and decant into another glass bottle with a tight fitting cap, or you may use as-is. This mixture keeps indefinitely due to the high level of alcohol. Use with with the same volume you would a commercial extract. (ex. 1 tsp is 1 tsp.)