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American Hot Cocoa

Cocoa powder…which to choose? Which is best for hot cocoa? Which is best for baking?

Not all cocoa powders are created equal!!

Have you ever noticed that there are so many different types of cocoa powder to choose from? Which one is the one to choose for the recipe that you are creating? Here are a few tips on the different types of cocoa. Knowledge is power and WOW did I ever learn a lot to have a better understanding of cocoa.

First of all, let’s remember that cocoa powder is just cocao beans that have been roasted and pulverized into powder, right? Not exactly.

The 2 types of cocoa are Dutch Process cocoa powder and natural cocoa powder. Dutch Process will usually be a darker color. I have found that some Dutch Process cocoa powders are similar to natural cocoa powder in color. Always check the ingredients so you know what you are buying. Dutch Process is just this… cocoa powder that has been washed in a potassium solution that neutralizes its acidity. The Dutching process also gives the cocoa powder a darker color. Dutch-processed cocoa powder in baking is usually paired with baking powder. The baking powder takes care of the acid component in leavening our baked goods. To make it even a simpler way to remember – Dutch-processed cocoa powder, acids stripped, darker color, reach for the baking powder.

Natural cocoa powder is cocoa that has not had its acid stripped. Natural cocoa powder is lighter in color because it has all of its acids intact. It is usually paired with baking soda because the metallic taste that is released in the sodium carbonate of baking soda is mellowed by the acid in natural cocoa powder. Natural cocoa powder is usually what is found in American grocery stores. To make this even simpler to remember – Natural cocoa powder, acids present, light in color, grab that baking soda.

Are there health benefits to cocoa powder? Yes, cocoa powder is made from cocao beans. To name a few that are stated by webmd:

  • Improved cognitive health
  • Stronger immune system – contains iron, zinc, and selenium
  • Better muscle and nerve function
  • Wound healing – zinc helps in healing wounds
  • Helps to lower risk of heart disease – dark chocolate is full of flavonols
  • Reduced inflammation – cocoa powder is rich in theobromine which helps to reduce inflammation
  • Weight loss and control – Remember the calories are in the sweeteners that you choose so moderation is key

So now the question that I’m sure you’re wondering – What type of cocoa do I use to make a cup of hot cocoa? Because neither baking soda or baking powder are generally used in hot cocoa, you are free to choose the cocoa of your choice. Also, any type of milk will work as well. Whole milk is rich and decadent. Almond/coconut milk makes a wonderful flavor as well. Try this…Use the powdered milk from your food storage, the cocoa from your food storage all of which are available at Kitchen Kneads and know that you always have just what is needed for a delicious cup of hot cocoa.

Remember hot chocolate is using cocao and yes there is powdered cocao that can be used to make hot chocolate. Kitchen Kneads has powdered cocao that is perfect for this. Powdered cacao can also be used to make cold chocolate milk. You may need to add a sweetener of choice. Make sure to always have powdered cacao on hand for perfect hot chocolate as well.

A great way to make this a family Hygge experience – include a chocolate board filled with all sort of add-ins for your cup of cocoa. Your board could include crushed peppermint candies, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, whipped cream, white and dark chocolate pieces, caramel sauce or caramel candies,  or even graham crackers. Enjoy and have a wonderful winter of hot chocolate and hot cocoa with your family and friends. Make memories, good times, and lots of laughter.

I have included an easy and fast hot cocoa recipe today using a natural cocoa powder. I used coconut sugar and added cinnamon. When heated throughout, I added ¼ teaspoon vanilla and topped it with whipped cream and dark chocolate curls. The combination of delicious milk chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, cream, and dark chocolate – absolutely divine.   

Easy and Delicious Hot Cocoa

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • 1 cup milk of choice, warmed to steaming
  • Add-ins like orange zest and ground cloves; ground cardamom and vanilla extract; or chili powder and ground cinnamon

**As you can see, the recipe is basically 1 tablespoon of each ingredient. This can be adjusted for sweetness and additional flavors as desired.

Instructions:

  1. Combine cocoa powder and sweetener in a mug; swirl in warmed milk. Add in one of the flavor additions, if desired.
  2. This is a fun way to involve the family by making enough milk and each person adds their own cocoa powder variety and sweetener of choice.  
  3. To make this an easier experience, decide how many cups of cocoa you want to make. Pour that amount of milk into a saucepan, add the proper amount of cocoa and sweetener and whisk until blended and heated throughout. 

 

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