Like a lot of people I often need a 3pm pick me up. A caffeine hit. A sugar high. But since I made a real effort to cut out most sugars from my diet (me and the rest of the world) and cut back on the caffeine, I’ve been at a bit of a lose end. My go to option for most of the year is a hot chocolate. It ticks a lot of boxes for me – sweet, warming, delicious, easily consumable and I don’t feel too guilty (with skimmed milk, obviously). However, at the risk of sounding smug I genuinely find a lot of hot chocolates too sweet now. Cutting out a lot of sugars has been interesting, my palate has changed and foods I adored before have become less desirable and less tolerable.
My favourite hot chocolate which I will make a bee line for is Paul A Young’s, which he sells in his beautiful London shops. At around £4 for a small cup it isn’t cheap, but I think it is worth every penny. The smell that hits you when you walk into the shop is insane, and then you spot this vat of hot chocolate simmering away in the corner, with a little spice rack alongside it… Well, it’s all very ‘Chocolat’, very sensual. Interestingly the hot chocolate is dairy free, using just water instead of milk, which is said to get the most out of the chocolate. So with the days a little colder, I’m needing my fix again, and have decided to make my own.
PURE HOT CHOCOLATE
If you are thinking creamy milky hot chocolate, think again. This is rich, short and intense. I use Hasslacher’s 100% pure Columbian cacao for this recipe, and it is heavenly – very pure, nothing added and naturally high in antioxidants . You can order it on Amazon for only a fiver.
- 15g of 100% pure cacao chocolate (2 squares from a bar of Hasslacher’s)
- A tablespoon of agave syrup, honey or light muscovado sugar
- a stick of cinnamon or a few cardamom pods, lightly crushed
Melt the chocolate in a small milk pan, over a low heat (as per packet instructions) being careful not to burn the chocolate and letting it melt slowly. As soon as it has melted whisk in 200ml of water with your chosen sweetener and spice. Simmer over a low heat for a few minutes until smooth and hot, but not boiling. Whisk again, taste (carefully!) and add a little more agave/ honey/ sugar if necessary and serve.