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The Drink of the Gods - Spiced Hot Cocoa

Spiced Hot Cocoa (sugar free) by SeasonWithSpice.com

Chocolate’s original partner?  Nop, not milk.  Not even sugar.

Of all things…Chili.

The cocoa bean originated in the Americas where the Mayans ground it up, mixed it with water, cornmeal, and chili peppers, then ‘pulled’ the drink – poured it back and forth from cup to pot – to produce a cold, foamy chocolate drink.  Very much like what is done with milk tea in Penang shown here:

how to pull hot chocolate

The cold concoction was later adopted and modified by the Aztecs who consumed copious amounts of the drink.  So much so that the Emperor Montezuma II, drank no other beverage but his favorite chocolate mix with vanilla, honey and chili peppers; always served in a golden goblet.

It wasn’t until the Spanish conquered the Aztecs that the cocoa bean was brought over to Europe and introduced to milk and sugar (and spices like nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon), quickly disassociating the chili pepper from chocolate.

spice blend for hot cocoa chocolate

But what Montezuma knew by drinking almost 50 cups a day - yes 50! – that this was more than a drink.  It was an elixir.  A drink of the gods that kept him young.  To remove chili, would be to remove its magic.

And we now know that he was right – the capsaicin in chili is like magic, keeping us healthy.  So next time, put the marshmallows away and make a real hot chocolate with a bit of cayenne pepper sprinkled on top.

Spiced Hot Cocoa (sugar free) by SeasonWithSpice.com

Tasting how natural and delicious this hot chocolate is, and how easy it is to make, reminded me of one of my favorite childhood treats – Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa.  And just like in my previous posts about Cool Whip, I decided to look at the ingredients:

Swiss Miss Classics Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix Ingredients: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Whey, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Nonfat Milk, Calcium Carbonate, Less Than 2% Of: Salt, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono- And Diglycerides, Carrageenan, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, Artificial Flavor.

Yep, same conclusion – another childhood favorite I won’t be buying again…

Sugar-Free Spiced Mexican Hot Chocolate by Season with Spice
Makes one cup

What you’ll need:
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp of Season with Spice's Ceylon cinnamon
Dash of Season with Spice's Indonesian ground nutmeg
Pinch (or less) of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp honey (optional)

Process:
1. In a mug, mix the cocoa powder, Ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, vanilla extract, and water, until it forms into a fudge-like paste.
2. In a small pot, heat milk on low fire (heat, but do not boil).
3. Pour heated milk into mug and stir thoroughly.  If you want to add in sugar, mix in 1/2 tbsp of honey.

Notes:
- Be careful with the cayenne. Since this is a hot drink, the spiciness of the chili pepper will stand out even more.
- The subtle, sweet taste of Ceylon cinnamon is perfect in hot chocolate.
-Try 'pulling' the hot chocolate for a foamier version.  Pour the milk into the mug, stir ingredients together, and then pour the hot chocolate back and forth between mug and pot.  The higher the better!