As I’m writing this, the wind is howling, the furnace hasn’t stopped and the current temperature is -26F in the Chicago area. With the wind chill…-47F. Ugh. The dog is resting at my feet in a sweater to which she’s reluctantly adjusting and all I can think is how grateful I am that the garden is blanketed with seven inches of snow as we wait this out. Frost quakes, or cryoseisms, have been rattling the garden all morning and seem to have subsided now that the sun’s out. Cryoseisms occur when saturated soil endures a massive temperature drop. The soil expands, stressing its surroundings, until the pressure becomes so great that a tiny explosion occurs. While I didn’t feel the earth shake, the quake that occurred at 11am was enough to wake my daughter. School’s closed for the next few days so she’s doing what growing teens do best. Sleep.
Winter time is undoubtedly hot chocolate time for us. It’s always been my go-to, satisfy that sweet tooth sort of thing. And what busy mom doesn’t love the instant version? As a kid, my mom would whip up some Ibarra Mexican hot chocolate. To this day, it’s my favorite. But since my daughter’s soy allergy and SIBO diagnosis, she can have none of it. Most instant hot chocolates contain soy and/or artificial ingredients. Your guess is as good as mine as to what those might be. And Ibarra has soy lecithin.
In a pinch, warm milk and a squirt of Hershey’s Simply 5 syrup will quell the craving. But it’s just not good enough, so I created my own and my family absolutely loves it. And the nice thing about it is, depending on your sweet and spicy preferences, you can adjust everything to taste. So here’s my basic recipe. Fortunately, my daughter doesn’t have a dairy allergy (knock on wood) so cow’s milk is fine for her. While I haven’t tested them in this recipe, almond, soy and coconut milks would work too.
Spicy Hot Chocolate
Makes 2 servings
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Rodelle)
- 2 cups 2% milk (or milk of choice)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, combine all the ingredients.
Whisk the ingredients together until the cocoa powder is incorporated into the milk. Simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. For a frothy consistency, pour into a blender for a minute or two. A hand blender works great too.
Running this through a sieve before serving will remove the red pepper flakes but I find that’s more work and one more dish I don’t need to wash so the flakes stay and the kids are cool with it.
Enjoy! Let me know what you think and if you’re in a deep freeze somewhere, stay warm. Everything is ephemeral. Some things (like winter) just seem to linger longer than others.