For those of you stuck at home today once again, here is the recipe from this week’s column. It is perfect for a day like today!
This winter, North Carolina is experiencing some of the coldest days we’ve seen in years. Having moved here from Upstate New York, not too far from Canada, I should be prepared for days such as these. Unfortunately, I am not. My blood has thinned and I spend many days searching for heat vents to sit near, layers to add on and blankets to cover myself with. While warming myself from the outside protects me from the cold air around me, there is nothing quite like being warmed from the inside out.
One of the things I miss most about the winters in New York is the cozy feeling that comes along with warming up. Sitting by a hot fire following an afternoon of ice skating or sledding with a steamy cup of hot cocoa is a comforting feeling like none other I know. As soon as the weather dropped below freezing this past week, I became determined to invent a homemade hot cocoa recipe that would bring back the feeling of those cozy afternoons, and more importantly, succeed at the task of warming me from the inside out.
I began searching the Internet for hot cocoa recipes; I like to have a place to start. I found several, but they seemed a little too ordinary for me. I finally realized that I knew just what the secret ingredient had to be. Whenever I order a steamed coffee beverage, I always order with soy milk. This began in an effort to be healthy, but has continued based on the hint of sweetness and the incredible smooth, creaminess that comes along with soy milk. By using this magic ingredient, not only are you adding vitamins and nutrients to your hot cocoa, but you are also able to cut back on the fat in whole milk and the sugar usually added to hot cocoa while still retaining the sweet, creamy goodness. Most base recipes I found for cocoa use about ¾ cup of sugar, while this recipe really only needs 1/3 cup per 4 servings.
This week, when the weather is cold, go ahead and reach for your blanket. Just be sure to leave one arm out so that you can reach for your mug of hot cocoa at the same time. It’s sure to be key ingredient for a truly warming day.
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
Pinch of salt
3 ½ cups vanilla soy milk (tested with Silk soy milk)
Half and half
Mix together cocoa and sugar in a medium saucepan. Add boiling water, bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful not to scorch the sugar. Add the milk and heat through, coming close to a boil without actually boiling. Serve with a splash of half and half if desired. This will add additional flavor and help to cool the cocoa before drinking.