I am a firm believer in hot chocolate. Or cold chocolate. To celebrate National Cocoa Day, you can have either!
Where does cocoa come from anyway? According to the amazingly appealing site Dark Chocolate Bakery:
Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean (also known as a cocoa bean) which grows in pod-like fruits on tropical cacao trees. [Cacao is pronounced Ka-Kow.] Ground up and roasted, cacao beans are the raw material for the chocolate we love. Most of the chocolate we eat comes from Africa, which generates about 70% of the world’s cacao beans. (The West African country of Côte d’Ivoire is the largest producer, generating some 1.4 million tons of beans a year.)
From Hershey’s, we learn that:
Interestingly, the cocoa bean is not a “bean” or any type of legume, rather it is actually the seed of the fruit of the cocoa tree.
And now that we can feel virtuous for eating fruit seeds, it’s time to get down to the actual enjoyment of cocoa, by offering you two recipes. The first is the famous “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate” you can get at the Serendipity3 chain if you are lucky enough to have one near where you live. Serendipity3 calls their “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate” a “creamy, dreamy, icy blend of chocolatey goodness.” Here is the official recipe, from Epicurious:
Frrrozen Hot Chocolate: Serendipity’s Best-Kept Secret
The recipe yields “one gigantic Serendipity-sized serving, which is perfect for sharing.”
6 half-ounce pieces of a variety of your favorite chocolates
2 teaspoons storebought hot chocolate mix
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups ice
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place it in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted.
Add the cocoa and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended.
Remove from heat and slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
In a blender place the remaining cup of milk, the room temperature chocolate mixture, and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. Pour into a giant goblet and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy with a spoon or a straw. . . .or both!
On to hot cocoa!
What follows is my own personal recipe for:
Quick and Sneaky Enhanced Hot Cocoa
Prepare one bag instant cocoa in a large cup.
Add a large glob of good vanilla ice cream.
Dump in a generous shot of Kahlua or Bailey’s, or, even better, Bailey’s Hot Fudge Sauce (which you can make yourself by adding Bailey’s to a hot fudge sauce recipe like this one, or you can purchase it already made from here or here. (Don’t have all the ingredients? No worries! Melt some Hershey bars and thin to taste with the Bailey’s. Add three-fourths of the concoction to the hot chocolate; use a spoon to mainline the rest of it.)
Reheat the final drink in the microwave for 22 seconds. (Why 22 and not 20? Because you can type 22 quicker!)
Hide in the other room with your cup, a good book, and enjoy.