Normally I am an avid coffee drinker. I’m talking fresh ground beans every morning in my French press.
However, my breastfeeding baby doesn’t react well to the caffeine. Or should I say… she DOES react… too much! Since I value what little sleep I get these days, the coffee had to go. My mornings were left lacking. Not only do I enjoy coffee for the flavor and boost, I realized I love and rely on the ritual of preparing and enjoying my a.m. libation. Without my usual routine, I felt a bit listless.
I couldn’t just do without. I needed a replacement. Tea was out of the question, since it also contains large(ish) amounts of caffeine. Herbal “teas” (technically they aren’t tea, but infusions…. I will rant about that in another post) just sounded depressing. I was running out of options. Thankfully, my addiction to YouTube cooking videos came in useful, and I found my replacement! To be sure, chocolate DOES contain some caffeine, and the amount depends on the cacao content. I was a little nervous, but decided to at least give it a try.
It did the trick. I am happy. Baby stays sleepy. Life is good. Maybe even better than before! Funny how chocolate seems to have that effect…
Below is the video that started my obsession. I’ve made some changes (reduced sugar, increased antioxidants), and I will share my recipe below, but I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. Even without changes, the recipe in this video is delicious.
Now, for my version. I like my chocolate like my sense of humor: dark and moody (but cathartic!). As a busy mom and homemaker for a family of five, I also appreciate the virtues of cooking in bulk.
I start with two liters of whole milk. Except I’m American, so what I really mean is I start with a little more than eight cups. Let’s just say 8.5. I pour almost all of it into the pan *reserving roughly 1/3 cup in the measuring cup* and get that heating with my cinnamon bark to taste, 4 teaspoons vanilla, and pinch of salt. I recommend actual cinnamon bark for this, not cinnamon powder. The flavor cooks better. Unlike the video, I do not add sugar.
Into the reserved milk, I whisk 4 level Tablespoons of cocoa powder. Don’t stress if it doesn’t immediately incorporate well. I’ve found that lightly mixing, then allowing it to sit for a couple minutes, allows the powder to absorb most of the milk. Then whisk again to ensure all lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth. This will make it MUCH easier to mix into the pan of milk later!
As you can see, the cocoa powder mix is thick and smooth. Remember to gently stir the pot as it heats up. Milk has a tendency to scald and burn and boil over easily. You don’t need to get it to a rolling boil… just heat it until you see a bit of steam and foam forming, as described in the video. Then lower the heat to the very lowest setting for ten minutes to allow the cinnamon to infuse its flavor, and allow the milk to thicken slightly.
This is where the separate milk/cocoa powder mixture comes in. Once the milk and cinnamon have infused, and you’ve discarded the cinnamon bark, pour the milk/cocoa powder into the pan. You will likely have a lot still stuck to your measuring cup, so carefully pour some of the hot milk back into the measuring cup, and stir a bit, then pour back into the pan. By then pretty much all the cocoa powder should be washed out of the cup and into the pan. As in the video, carefully strain the mixture into a bowl, wash the pan, then return the mixture to the pan on the very lowest heat. This step also helps achieve a smooth, lump-free beverage.
Next comes the REAL chocolate! I aim for 400 grams. That translates to about 3.5 (4oz/113g) bars. I favor using 2.5 bars of unsweetened, and 1 bar of 56% cacao. You can easily adjust the ratio to your own preference. Keep in mind, the higher the cacao content, the more antioxidants and potential health benefits (worth another blog post perhaps?).
Slowly add the chocolate pieces, and give it a few minutes to melt. Stir gently until all is melted and the mixture is smooth, creamy, and tantalizing. You may like to add a pinch of powdered cayenne pepper at this point. I like pepper in my chocolate, but since my family doesn’t appreciate it as much, I refrain from adding it to the whole batch and instead only add a pinch to my individual cup.
And there we go! I’m left with two milk bottles for the fridge, and enough left over for a generous serving. When I’m ready to serve, I pour out what I need and gently heat in the microwave.
When I drink two or more cups of this per day, the baby’s spit up ends up smelling like chocolate. So I guess that’s another perk…
8.5 cups whole milk
400 grams baking chocolate (I recommend 2.5 bars unsweetened, and 1 bar semisweet)
4 cinnamon sticks
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
Bring 8 cups of milk to a slow boil in a pan with cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Frequently stir gently to prevent burning to the bottom of the pan. In the meantime, mix the cocoa powder with the reserved milk. Once the milk is steamy and foamy, reduce heat to the very lowest setting for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove cinnamon bark. Pour in the reserved milk/cocoa powder mix. Pour some mixture from the pan back into the measuring cup to thoroughly retrieve all the cocoa powder. Stir, then pour back into the pan.
Carefully strain the contents of the pan into another container and wash out your pan. Return mixture back to the pan on the very lowest heat.
And chocolate pieces and gently stir as everything melts and blends thoroughly.
Remove from heat and enjoy!
(When serving from the leftovers, shake and/or stir thoroughly)