hot cocoa

For all intents and purposes, it is winter. I’m talking about a warm, steamy, perfectly rich and creamy cup of hot chocolate, of course. Nothing soothes frozen noses, fingers and toes quite like it. But don’t simply stir in a sugary mix with hot water—you can easily make the very best hot cocoa ever with a few extra steps…but trust me, every single sip will be worth it.

If making this in the afternoon, I’ll also add a teaspoon or two of maca—the Peruvian superfood that provides a natural energy boost, minerals and a little balancing for the hormones, too. It also adds a caramel-like flavor. At night, a wee bit of peppermint, almond or orange extract give it that mellow and relaxing flavor that makes the cold wintry day just melt away…

Makes about 2 – 3 servings (depending on your mug size)

Ingredients

3 cups of your favorite nondairy milk (I recommend almond or hemp)
8 ounces of vegan semisweet chocolate chips or baker’s chocolate cut or broken into small pieces
½ teaspoon coconut oil
1 vanilla bean, scored
¼ of a nutmeg, shaved
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of mineral salt

Optional: 3 teaspoons organic sugar ( I find the milk and the chocolate are naturally sweet enough, but if you need a little extra, go for it. Just don’t make it too sweet!)

Method

In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, bring milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg to a slow simmer for ten minutes. Slowly stir in the chocolate and coconut oil and use a whisk to keep it from sticking on the bottom of the pan. Keep whisking until the mixture is frothy and steamy. Serve immediately. Garnish with vegan whipped cream, chocolate and vanilla shavings or a sprig of mint. (If adding maca or extracts, add them when you add the chocolate.)

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Robert Couse Baker