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When I was younger, I used hot chocolate packets for everything BUT hot chocolate.
I sprinkled them over ice cream.
I added them to my Cocoa Pebbles for a double whammy of chocolatey processed garbage.
I even dipped my finger into them and ate them all by themselves.
When I finally ditched the processed garbage, that habit ended. And I'm not the biggest hot chocolate type of gal (just, ya know, a put powdered chocolate gunk on your crap food type of gal) so I never thought about it again.
But recently, on the wings of a fall-weather-induced hot chocolate hankering, I thought it might be nice to have a cup of hot chocolate.
Out of curiosity, I attempted to look up the ingredients for my old favorite, Swiss Miss. Suspiciously, neither the Swiss Miss site nor the site of their parent company, ConAgra Foods (blech) had the ingredients list available. Sketchy, sketchy.
What about cocoa powder and sugar needs to be hidden, I thought?
But when I saw the ingredients list for a similar product from Nestle, I realized how silly I had been. Silly Liz. Why would any reputable business make a product out of simple cocoa powder and sugar when they could make it with trans fat and corn syrup?
Here's the ingredients list for Nestle hot chocolate, which they say is “made with the finest ingredients.” (Seriously. They say that.)
SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS. MADE ON EQUIPMENT THAT ALSO PROCESSES SOY AND WHEAT.
So…yeah. While I knew it'd probably be pretty bad, I had no idea it would be THAT bad. Hot chocolate is SIMPLE. All you need to do is combine a few delicious, simple ingredients and enjoy. Coconut milk has that perfect light sweetness, which can be augmented with a bit of maple syrup – or just left to stand alone.
And since chocolate and espresso go hand-in-hand, I added a pinch of instant espresso to the mix. I love Medaglia D'Oro.
Espresso hot chocolate
What you need:
1 can full-fat coconut milk (you'll cut it with water, but why PAY for someone else to do it? “Light” coconut milk just means “watered down” coconut milk.) I use this brand, which is just coconut – no guar gum or other weird stuff.
2 cups water
1 Tbs. organic cocoa powder
1 Tsp. grade B maple syrup
1 Tbs. instant espresso
A pinch of cinnamon
Combine ingredients and heat at medium-low until warm. Enjoy!
Depending on your personal taste, you can add more or less of ANY ingredient. You can't screw this up!
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