Hot cocoa has its roots with the ancient Mayans, but their version bears little resemblance to the modern day belly warmer. Grinding cocoa beans with water, cornmeal and chili peppers into a lukewarm paste, it was in high demand as an energy booster and an elixir of health. The Aztecs continued the tradition and Montezuma was reputed to have consumed up to 50 cups a day of the thick, spicy beverage.
We’ve come a long way. Hot cocoa is a cold weather favorite, but is generally served as a simple, creamy blend of cocoa and sugar. Chocolate cake in a cup. But Mexican hot chocolate has held onto the spicy origins, including a dash of chili or cayenne pepper to enhance its warming properties. Spiced hot chocolate has returned to fashion in the last few years with the addition of those heat bringers as well as other seasonal flavors like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or ginger. We’re on board.
This recipe for spiced hot chocolate is the perfect place to start your return from a long day hard at work or play in the frigid winter wind. We kept it sweet. You’ve earned it.
Spiced Hot Chocolate
- 4 cups milk
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Whipped cream
Combine milk, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, cayenne and vanilla in a saucepan.
Bring to a hot temperature, but not boiling (about 180 degrees), stirring frequently.
Pour into cups and top with a dollop of whipped cream to serve.