Wake me up before cocoa!

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(Wake me up before cocoa!)

December already! Christmas is right around the corner and the race is on! There are so many things to do, cards to write, pictures to take, gifts to wrap, plans to make and parties to attend!

It’s one of the busiest times of year for me and it seems like everyone I know feels the same way, so I invite you to take some time for yourself and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

I was reading recently about Japanese Tea ceremonies and the mindfulness used in preparing the cup of tea. It’s a fascinating ceremony and I want to take the same principles and apply it to hot chocolate.

The Japanese tea ceremony can be summed up by the Zen phrase “ichi-go ichi-e”, which means “one time, one meeting”. This phrase is to help us remember a few key points; first, to take stock in the beauty and uniqueness of the present moment: secondly, that life is ever-changing and impermanent. This really struck me and I must say I really love the whole idea of finding beauty in the simplicity of making a hot drink and appreciating that specific moment. Looking around, absorbing your surroundings being present. It’s a great way to stop the chaos for a few minutes and slow down!

The best part is that this ritual can be shared. In Japan, this would usually be performed by two people who would create no less than an “experience” from the simple and ordinary act of drinking a cup of tea. This shared moment between people is special and unique; it can never be replicated, and the beauty of being “in the moment” and appreciating who you are with at that moment is so special. WIth that, I say, gather your favorite people and make some tea, or hot chocolate and think about the preparation, savor the smells, feel your surroundings, and appreciate those by whom you are lucky enough to be surrounded. Sip together and take a mental note of this moment in time.

Hot chocolate in itself is pretty old; archaeologists have found evidence that Mayan chocolate consumption occurred as early as 500 BC, and historians have speculated that it may predate the Mayans. But the Mayans were not drinking what we have today; it had things like cornmeal, chili peppers, water, and other ingredients and was drank cold. It was reserved for royalty and the supremely wealthy and was an acquired taste due to the unavailability of refined sugar.

Fast forward to 1828. December already! Christmas is right around the corner and the race is on! There are so many things to do, cards to write, pictures to take, gifts to wrap, plans to make and parties to attend!

It’s one of the busiest times of year for me and it seems like everyone I know feels the same way. So I invite you to take some time for yourself and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. I was reading recently about Japanese Tea ceremonies and the mindfulness to prepare the cup of tea. It’s a fascinating ceremony and I want to take the same principles and apply it to hot chocolate.

The Japanese tea ceremony can be summed up by the Zen phrase “ichi-go ichi-e”, which means “one time, one meeting”. This phrase is to help us remember and take stock in the beauty and uniqueness of the present moment. Secondly, that life is ever-changing and impermanent. This really struck me and I must say I really love the whole idea of finding beauty in the simplicity of making a hot drink and appreciating that specific moment. Looking around, absorbing your surroundings being present. It’s a great way to stop the chaos for a few minutes and slow down!

The best part is that this ritual can be shared. In Japan, this would usually be performed by two people, who would create no less than an experience from the simple and ordinary act of drinking a cup of tea. This shared moment between people is special and unique, it can never be replicated and the beauty of being in the moment and appreciating who you are with at that moment is so special. So gather your favorite people and make some tea, or hot chocolate and think about the preparation, savor the smells, feel your surroundings, and appreciate who you are lucky enough to be surrounded by. Sip together and take a mental note of this moment in time.

Hot chocolate in itself is pretty old and archaeologists have found evidence that Mayan chocolate consumption occurred as early as 500 BC, and historians have speculated that it may predate the Mayans. But the Mayans were not drinking what we have today it had things like cornmeal, chili peppers, water, and other ingredients and was drank cold. It was reserved for royalty and the supremely wealthy and was an acquired taste due to the unavailability of refined sugar.

Fast forward to 1828, Coenraad Johannes van Houten developed the first cocoa powder-producing machine in the Netherlands. It revolutionized cocoa and opened the doors to refined chocolate with its ability to separate the fat from the seeds giving us the coco powder we have today.

My gift to you this holiday season is a recipe for my version Parisian Hot Chocolate. It’s a Mayan twist on a French favorite and frankly, it puts all other hot chocolates to shame with its rich, silky, complex nature; it really is something worth savoring.

Parisian Hot Chocolate:

1 ½ cup whole milk

½ cup heaving whipping cream

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons powdered sugar

½ teaspoon espresso powder

Pinch of Cayenne pepper (optional)

8 oz of 70% bittersweet chocolate chopped

Pinch of cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 1: Simmer the milk and cream with the vanilla,  Add cayenne pepper, espresso powder, cinnamon, and salt. This allows the spices to bloom and fully develop their flavors. DO NOT BOIL!

Step 2: Add the chopped chocolate and take off the heat.

Step 3: Slowly mix until everything is incorporated and is smooth and silky.

Pour into cups and top with whipped cream.

*Notes: use high-quality chocolate, I love Guittard for two reasons; it’s easily accessible in most grocery stores and it is very fine quality for the price point.  If you don’t feel like making a special trip to the store, any chocolate will do.

Full-fat milk is important! The body of this drink depends on the fat from the milk and cream.  Dn’t Skim!

Allysun, The Uhmayzing…

Allysun The Uhmayzing” is a “momprenuer”who owns Madam Confection.She is an award-winning Pastry Chef who is passionate about great food.

She can be reached at madamconfection@gmail.com

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