Ask the Alchemist #185


Level: Novice

Reading time: 8 minutes

I want to make drinking chocolate.  Can you give me a recipe?

 

I’ve touched on parts of this in the past but now is a good time to bring all the options together.

The first thing is to define what you mean by drinking chocolate.  It means surprisingly different things to different people.   To my mind there are 4 big options in defining drinking chocolate.

  • Whole or extract?
  • Hot or cold?
  • Bean or powder?
  • Instant or prepared

Some of these clearly overlap.  And some don’t mix well together.

First, do you want a steeped brewing cocoa or something like grandma used to make?

The first one is easy, so let’s get it out of the way first.  You grind up whole roasted cocoa beans and mix them with either hot or cold water.  The result is nothing like grandma’s chocolate.  It is more like cocoa tea.  I’m going to assume this probably isn’t what you meant by drinking chocolate.  1-2 T of ground cocoa beans, 8 oz water, steep, filter and there you go.  Brewing Cocoa.  That pretty much takes care of extract, i.e. steeping,  so we can move onto variations of turning whole beans into basically a liquid form.

Can you use whole cocoa beans and make grandma’s thick and creamy cocoa?  No.  This is one of the combinations that just don’t work well.  At least not quickly in the kitchen on demand.    You can’t just grind the beans up in a grinder, blender or fool processor, add milk or water (hot or cold) and turn it into something that anyone would call drinking chocolate.  The cocoa pieces will remain too large and it will be just another thinnish extract like the brewing cocoa.  What you have to do is turn the cocoa beans into chocolate and then turn use the chocolate.

There are two options here.  Both are variations of making a ganache filling like you would make for truffles. The key difference is whether you are just making one or two cups or want to make up a bunch to save for later.

In both cases you melt your chocolate.  I prefer doing it in a double boiler.  This can be as simple as a bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Once your chocolate is melted, you stir in equal parts warm water, milk or cream (or really any other water based milk substitute like soy or almond milk).  The chocolate and liquid should both be around 105-110 F.   You stir/whisk until it is all smooth and silky.  At this point you can either dilute it further if you want to drink it immediately, or stop and put it away if you are making a large batch.

And let’s not forget about sugar.  It’s kind of shocking how much sugar is in most drinking chocolates.   2-3 tablespoons is not uncommon in an 8 oz glass.  But you are making this yourself and in the same way many people like black coffee, you may actually find you like substantially less sugar that you thought.  So this one of those to taste things.   Here is the pretty classic recipe.

  • ½ cup chocolate melted
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 6 T sugar
  • 2 cups milk or water.

Combine the melted chocolate and warm water stirring until smooth.  Mix in half the milk or water and sugar and heat until everything is smooth.  If you want hot chocolate add the remaining liquid and heat until it is as hot as you want.  If you want cold chocolate milk, stir in cold milk and refrigerate if you need.  And again, adjust the sugar level to your tastes.  This makes two nice mugs of drinking chocolate.

I will admit.  That is a little cooking intensive.  Not really hard, but not instant either.  But those are the options for making your own completely from the bean.

At this point I don’t know of a way to make an instant cold drinking chocolate where you just stir powder into cold milk.  But we can get pretty close.  Sadly you have to move away from starting with whole beans and move into using cocoa powder.

To that end, after many requests and much tasting, we are now offering a lovely Organic and Fair Trade Natural cocoa powder.

To make classic hot or cold drinking chocolate you combine cocoa powder with sugar and add a little boiling water. Then you simply top up with more liquid, hot or cold, depending on what you want.  One cup looks like this.

  • 1 heaping Tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 total cup liquid.

Mix the cocoa powder and sugar in a mug.  Add about ¼ c boiling water and stir until smooth.  Then top up with water or milk.

Can you use less sugar?  Of course.  But I’ll tell you from experience childhood memories are strong and most people prefer it as above.

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Feel free to experiment.  You may find that 1 Tablespoon of cocoa powder with 1 teaspoon of sugar in 2 oz of water is the perfect intense shot of chocolate you have been looking for.

Make sure you mix it up.

I personally like that exact proportion, mixed thoroughly in my shot glass (mixing is important or it clumps) topped up with boiling water and maybe ½ t of cream (it’s the holidays after all).

If you don’t mix it will probably clump up on you.

There you go, all mixed up.

There you go, all mixed up.

And it is worth noting.  This cocoa powder is not dutched or alkalized.  But if you like that flavor, a tiny amount (that classic pinch) of baking soda mixed into the powder and sugar will deepen the color and subtlety change the flavor and texture.  In actually chocolate making I don’t like alkalizing, but mixed in right in the cup, and briskly consumed, I find it a nice variation on occasion.

One other combination I’ve found I like every so often as a pseudo-instant mix is equal parts cocoa powder, sugar and milk or cream powder.  A spoonful or two of that blended with boiling water and topped up with hot or cold water is fast, easy and surprisingly enjoyable.

Heck, it is the holidays.  Top up with eggnog and a little rum!

There you go.  All the variations of drinking chocolate I can think of and how you can produce them.

Have fun, enjoy and let me know what you think.

 

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