Dec. 2, 2001 – It was while vacationing on the island of Guadeloupe, at Claude Aluado's La Maison du Cacao, or Cocoa Museum, that I learned about stick cocoa and how to make a real cup of this warm, wonderful beverage.
Fixing my daughter's morning cup of "cocoa tea" has never been the same since. For on special mornings, when time permits, I take a coveted stick from the freezer, grate some of it into a rich brown powder and make cocoa from scratch.
Food gifts are a great way to give of yourself for the holidays. Some people give sweetbreads and tarts; others give fully cooked meals that they invite loved ones to share. Since that trip to Guadeloupe, I've enjoyed giving a cocoa stick, or a packet of commercial canned cocoa powder combined with sugar and other flavorings.
To make the gift festive, I get a decorative holiday mug, place the stick or cocoa mix packet inside, and attach the recipe. Even though the ingredients will eventually run out, the recipe will make this a gift that keeps on giving long afterward.
Grandma's Hot Cocoa
2 cups water
1 small stick cinnamon
1/2-inch piece of vanilla bean
2 tablespoons grated cocoa
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
Place the stick cinnamon in a decorative mug and attach this recipe, with the ingredients listed above: Place water, cinnamon and vanilla bean into a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Mix cocoa and sugar into a paste; add to water and spices. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Pour in milk and bring almost to a boil. Serve immediately — with marshmallows, if desired. Makes 4 cups. Per serving: 190 calories, 11 gms fat (49 percent fat calories), 27 mg cholesterol, 103 mg sodium.
Contemporary Hot Cocoa
2 cups powdered nondairy coffee creamer
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup mini-chocolate chips
Stir together all ingredients. Spoon 1/3-cup portions into airtight gift containers or zip-lock plastic bags. To make cocoa, combine 1/3 cup mix with 2/3 cup boiling water. Makes 12 servings. Per serving: 205 calories, 9 gms fat (38 percent fat calories), no cholesterol, 30 mg sodium.