Cocoa, the bean from the chocolate goddesses, is the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of the cacao from which we make chocolate. The dry powder is made by grinding cocoa seeds and removing the cocoa from the dark, bitter cocoa solids; the chocolate bars we are all so fond of are a combination of cocoa and cocoa butter together.
Chocolate and cocoa contain a high level of flavonoids, specifically epicatechin, which may have beneficial cardiovascular effects. Some experts say that consuming a dark chocolate of about 70 percent pure cocoa may even help lower cholesterol. (We won’t tell them that we’re adding heavy whipping cream to our recipe for Mexican hot chocolate.) And anyone who has seen the film Like Water for Chocolate knows that Mexican hot chocolate is definitely a booster for affairs of
Mexican Hot Chocolate
2 cups reduced-fat (2 percent) evaporated milk
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Ghirardelli chocolate liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
10 cinnamon sticks
1 dried red chile
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Whisk evaporated milk, whole milk, liqueur, vanilla, sugar, cocoa, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and chili powder in a heavy saucepan. Add 2 of the cinnamon sticks and chile and cook gently over medium-low heat until warm. Add chocolate and cook, whisking until melted. Gently bring to a high simmer; reduce heat and simmer until liquid thickens and reduces slightly, whisking often, 10 minutes. Combine heavy cream with remaining 1/ 2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat until peaks form. Ladle 1/ 3 cup hot cocoa into each of 8 teacups; top with whipped cream and garnish with a cinnamon stick.