Monday, January 18, 2010

Practically a Health Food Hot Cocoa

It's a holiday, but I'm using it as a partial workday, focusing on shifting mental gears. That may require some housework, as I have a sheet of notes I made on the opening of the project I'm getting back into, and I have no idea where it might be right now, so I may have to clean to find it. Then once I start doing housework, I tend to want to finish it, and the house really needs a good once-over. What I may do is read what I've written so far, and then muse on it while I clean.

In the meantime, I'll share a recipe. As I've mentioned, I do freelance work for the medical school, writing the health public service radio features. That tends to involve a lot of nutrition advice, since that's one area where people can really affect their own health and since that was one of my departments when I worked there, so I know all the people and can get people to talk to me or return my calls. One fun bit of advice was that hot cocoa is one of the better ways to have chocolate, since fat and sugar have to be added to turn it into candy. Apparently, a cup of dark hot cocoa made with non-fat milk is practically a health food, since it has the same amount of antioxidants as a glass of red wine, plus contains calcium.

I have some dark cocoa powder, so I thought I'd try making cocoa that way. And it was nasty. Non-fat milk is too weak to hold up to the dark cocoa. I started experimenting, and I think I've figured out the way to make Practically a Health Food Hot Cocoa. This makes about two servings:

You'll need to find non-fat evaporated milk -- the secret to giving some body to the milk without adding fat. Pour about half a cup of the evaporated milk into a liquid measuring cup, then pour in regular skim milk until you've got two cups, total. Stir gently to mix. Pour half a cup of this mixture into a small saucepan. Add a tablespoon of dark cocoa powder, a tablespoon of regular unsweetened cocoa and about two tablespoons of sugar. You can adjust the sugar to taste. The cocoa recipe I used as a starting point called for slightly more sugar than cocoa, but I've been making it with slightly less sugar than cocoa. Whisk all this together over medium heat. Stir frequently until the cocoa just barely starts to bubble. Then add the rest of the milk and reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally until it reaches a good drinking temperature, but don't let it boil.

And then you can undermine the "health" aspects by topping it with whipped cream and having a few cookies on the side.

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