Monday, December 3, 2012

Easy Mayan Hot Chocolate Yumminess

Yesterday I said I'd give you a recipe for glorious, lovely, thick, and dreamy Mayan Hot Chocolate, and today I'm delivering.

I actually made it the easy way.  It turned out that I didn't have as much of one ingredient as I originally thought I did.  Even so, I was not going to go without my homemade nectar of the gods.

Take that, Murphy!

Let's start by drooling over the ingredients:

chocolate chips in glass jar, cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, milk in a bottle, unsweetened chocolate powder, agave nectar, with a child's arm in the background

Ok... in all honesty, I didn't use all of that.  The cocoa powder and agave nectar were "just in case" items.  I actually haven't used the cocoa powder in, well, let's just say so long of a time that the lid has a recent expiration date on it.  Oops...

Which ingredients did I use, then?

  • 2 cups of milk (I used farm fresh, cream top milk from Cedar Summit Farm)
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (fair trade, bought at a food coop)
  • 1 cayenne pepper (still good, somehow, after sitting in my fridge after my last farmers market visit)
  • cinnamon (bought at a locally owned, tiny grocery store downtown)
  • 1 four-year-old helper (How could I send her away when making hot chocolate, after all?)

See?  I told you I was going to make it as green as possible!  I only threw the cocoa powder and agave nectar into the photo because I was worried I didn't have enough chocolate chips.  Luckily, though, I did!

Unfortunately, when you live in Minnesota it's rather impossible to make totally green hot chocolate, no matter how hard you try.  See, the cacao tree needs consistent temperatures with tons of moisture... in other words, rainforest conditions.  This isn't exactly something that's available anywhere near me!

Ok... time for a brief history lesson.

I was once fortunate enough to eat a cacao bean directly from a tree when I visited the Tulum ruins in Mexico a few years ago, and had an opportunity to speak with a descendant of the great Mayan civilization - that's right.  The Mayans did not vanish one day in a big puff of smoke, as people love to believe.  They simply picked up and moved, leaving everything behind:  Something they did every 52 years, back then, and some still do that today.

They actually believed in living in harmony with the environment.  

Nature, as we all know, flows in cycles.  They were very in tune with those natural fluctuations of climate.  There's nothing mystical about it - the original Mayans were far better scientists than western civilization gives them credit for. At the end of a 52 year cycle, people would pick up and move to a new location in order to protect themselves from pesky things like hurricanes or droughts.  They were simply reasonable.  You can rebuild stuff.  You can't, however, bring people back to life. Duh.

Now that you know that their calendar is based on science, rather than prophesy, you can see that the calendar ends not because the world will end (How crazy is that?!), but because an era is ending.  Which means another begins.  It deals with time... not wand waving quackery.

Of course, all of you already know that.  

I just felt the need to explain a subject that drives me nuts.  That's what blogging is about, right?

Now, back to the recipe...

Mayan hot chocolate and Mexican hot chocolate are very similar.  The difference is a single ingredient: red chile pepper! Remove the cayenne from my recipe, and you have Mexican hot chocolate.

The steps:

1.  Place a pot on a burner, set to medium heat.  Add 2 cups of milk.

2.  Throw in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

3.  Once the chips are completely melted into the milk, add cinnamon to taste.  I started with 1/4 tsp, then continued to add one dash of cinnamon at a time until I had the exact proportion necessary to make me smile.  This ended up being around 3/4 tsp... but start small!  Everyone's taste buds are different, so you want to err on the side of caution.

4.  Once the cinnamon is mixed in, slice a cayenne pepper and throw that in, too.  You may want to remove the seeds, but that's entirely up to you.

cayenne pepper floating inside chocolate mixture

5.  Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes, just to be sure everything has blended well, then remove the chiles from the mixture.  

6.  Pour it into two cups (Your helper needs some, too!), and enjoy.

2 mugs of hot chocolate, one only half full.
Yep... I'm a Xena fan, and have been since the beginning.
You caught me!

I know what you're thinking... "What's up with the helper only getting half a mug of it???"

Well, she's four.  

This stuff is filled with sugar, and I didn't want to send her into a sugar frenzy.  No, really... give her enough sugar, and she'll resemble the Tasmanian Devil from Loony Toons, complete with the cyclone around her!

Special note:  Mayan hot chocolate is very rich.  If you allow it to settle, it will form a dark skin at the top.

Bits of dark brown, pierced chocolate skin floating at the top of the mug.
What it looks like after piercing the thin chocolate skin

If you wish to avoid that, you'll need to add some water.  Of course, doing that changes the overall quality and taste, so it's something I'd never do.  Plus... I rather enjoy poking at it, because... you know... it's FUN.

The choice is entirely yours.

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