Flakes of grated dark chocolate and smooth coconut milk melt together for a decadent drinking chocolate that doubles as dessert.
[Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Torakand Adventures LLC and is part of a series of recipes developed for the fictional fantasy setting of Lost Colonies, an immersive live-action roleplaying community in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. This post may contain affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links.]
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Rich & Delicious Hot Chocolate
Cups of steaming hot chocolate have been a luscious treat on chilly nights for generations. Special decanters of the brew sat beside tea and coffee on a Victorian table, and archaeologists have even found that the Mayans sipped a bitter chocolate drink as early at the sixth century. Known traditionally as ‘drinking chocolate’, the beverage is a luxury with a long international history, and I was inspired by these traditions to develop a version perfectly suited to the fictional cultures and traditions of Lost Colonies (You can learn more about this ongoing collaboration in the first post of the series).
With a nod to the tropical climates in which cocoa plants are grown, this indulgent hot chocolate is made with coconut milk for a smooth, delicious beverage sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Liber’s Decadent Drinking Chocolate
I love travelling all over Sobukand. I see so many beautiful sites, and of course enjoy the freshest, most interesting foods across the continent. But not even I’m immune to homesickness. When I find my mind wandering to thoughts of my quiet balcony overlooking the docks of Barbilla, there is one thing I can always rely on to bring me comfort – a rich, luxurious cup of drinking chocolate and a meringue for dipping. Available in every corner kettle shop, this indulgent ritual brings me back to my childhood and my earliest food memories. If I’m lucky, the bartenders even make it for me in the traditional Liber-style with a dash of spice and creamy coconut milk. —Excerpt from A Traveler’s Guide to Sobukand by Donla Pheinkuk
Cocoa, coffee, and tea are popular throughout Sobukand. Kettle shops – which range from small corner counters with a few seats to open air establishments littered with tables – serve a variety of hot and cold beverages next to light pastries, street foods, and the occasional soup. The name comes from an early tradition of hanging an old kettle outside, signaling to patrons that the shop is open and the hot kettle is on the stove. Today, many kettle shops have replaced this with an artistic rendition of a kettle, but many of the oldest consider using their generations’ old iron ones as a badge of honor.
Drinking chocolate – a thick, decadent drink made from grated cocoa, milk, sugar, and spice – is a popular treat at these stands. Served in small glass or ceramic cups, each are traditionally topped with a little meringue cookie (recipe coming soon). Made with sugar and whipped egg whites, these cookies are so light they float gently on top. They are the perfect compliment to the otherwise thick and slightly bitter chocolate drink.
The Right Kind of Cocoa
I could honestly go on for quite awhile on the science and history of cocoa, but I’ll save that for another day. Instead, I’ll stick to a brief introduction. Unlike the modern powdered hot cocoa most of us are used to, traditional drinking chocolate comes from melting grated bars of chocolate with a liquid – usually milk, sometimes water. Chocolate bars themselves are made through a combination of ground cocoa beans and cocoa butter for a smooth, easily meltable texture. Before it was sold as a shiny candy bar, chocolate was a beloved drink throughout Europe and the Americas as early as the 17th century.
Today, the American Heritage Company keeps this culinary tradition alive through their cocoa products, which are based on these early recipes. Their grated dark chocolate is more than just cocoa and cocoa butter, but also cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, and red pepper, giving it a little something special. It’s for that reason that I suggest using this particular grated chocolate for this recipe.
If you want to grate your own chocolate for this rich version of hot cocoa, that’s fine too! Use a dark or semisweet chocolate bar and grate it fine with a cheese grater. Then just add a tiny pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or even a dash of red pepper flakes to your cup to approximate the Old World flavors. Or, check out Theo Chocolate, an amazing fair trade chocolate maker based in Washington State. I’m sure their ginger or toffee dark chocolate bars would be lovely in this recipe!
Decadent Dark Hot Chocolate
- 1 can (16 ounce) unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon raw Turbinado sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons finely grated dark chocolate (see note)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Optional: pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg per cup
- Top with: Small meringue cookies, whipped coconut cream, or marshmallows
- Whisk the coconut milk, sugar, and salt together in a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a light simmer, and then whisk in the cornstarch until combined, followed by the chocolate. Whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and slightly bubbling (about 5 minutes). Remove the pot from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Carefully spoon (or pour) the hot chocolate into teacups and serve. This drinking chocolate tastes just as good hot or at room temperature.
Choosing Chocolate: I recommend using American Heritage Company’s grated dark chocolate, which is made in the tradition of early Colonial American recipes with touches of spice. You can also grate your own chocolate – use a dark or semisweet chocolate bar and grate it fine with a cheese grater. If you’d like, add a tiny pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or even a dash of red pepper flakes to your cup.
Meringue Cookies: I’ve paired this drinking chocolate with tiny homemade mocha meringue cookies (link coming soon). You can also top with whipped coconut cream or more traditional marshmallows as you please.
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