Cacao with friends
Hot chocolate is so lovely to share with friends. Hot cacao is even more lovely, lush even. Cacao is more than a candy bar, and has more than just caffeine in it. When I think of cacao and drink or eat cacao I pause and think of the centuries of reverence and ceremony surrounding this special plant, Theobroma cacao. The Olmecs, Maya, Aztecs, and many other native peoples who lived in the Central American rain forests considered cacao a gift from the gods, and it was an important part of their lives. Experiencing it yourself, it’s easy to see why. This heart opener brings me joy and clear thoughts, and what better traits to share with friends.
This hot cacao “recipe” (as you’ll see, my recipes are often a pinch of this, splash of that, and leave lots of room for creativity) was a truly decadent hit with some friends of mine, and I’d love to share it with you!
All of my ingredients are organic, because that’s what I keep on hand. It’s also how I trick myself into eating healthy: I only keep the good stuff on hand. Not all the time, but I try. You’ll need:
- 1-1.5C shredded coconut
- 4C warm water (I used a tea kettle and let it whistle, then took it off the heat for several minutes to cool down to warm)
- 1-2C cacao nibs
- 2T powdered cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick!)
- 1t powdered ginger (or 1/2t fresh grated ginger)
- a PINCH of chili powder, or more if you’re a hottie!
- pinch of sea salt
- 3-4T maple syrup
- optional vanilla extract. I used about a capful of some homemade vanilla extract in bourbon
This is a homemade creamy hot cacao made with some deliciously rich and dead simple homemade coconut milk.
Dead simple homemade coconut milk:
Add your shredded coconut with the warm water to a blender, blitz for 3-5 minutes depending on your blender, then strain. It helps to have cheesecloth or a nut milk bag for straining, but isn’t necessary. I used a simple kitchen strainer.
Hot cacao with friends:
I strained the coconut milk straight into a sauce pan that was already on a medium low heat. To that I added the cacao nibs, cinnamon powder, ginger powder, a pinch of chili powder, small splash of vanilla extract, and a little sea salt. Then stirred frequently and kept on a very low simmer with the lid off for about 10 minutes (or more, if you can stand to wait, your kitchen will start to smell pretty delectable.). I added maple syrup as my sweetener. It wasn’t very sweet, which is what I wanted, so if you like it sweeter feel free to add more than what this recipe calls for.
This mixture needs to be strained, as you’re decocting the cacao nibs and not using something like cacao powder (which I imagine you very well could, but I had a surplus of nibs on my hand so that’s what I used). This is extremely decadent and creamy, feel free to cut with some water while you’re decocting to spread the love a little further. Or be even more adventurous and split this with a complementary heart opening tisane of roses and damiana!
May cacao bring joy to your heart, mind, and life.
Bio: Nina DiCristina is an herbalist in Orlando, Florida. She’s been studying the plants since 2008 and formally with the guidance of herbalist Emily Ruff at the Florida School of Holistic Living since 2011. She’s also been fortunate enough to study with Rosemary Gladstar, and Guido Masé. She loves the daily communion with the plants and the joy they bring to those who know them. She writes at www.artemisiamoon.com, can be found pouring the tea at beloved Dandelion Communitea Cafe, teaching at the Florida School of Holistic Living, and enthusiastically assisting at the annual Florida Herbal Conference.