Winter Drinks: Spicy Hot Cocoa

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Photo by Jiri Hera
Cayenne and chocolate are delightful when paired.

The trio of cayenne, cinnamon and cardamom will definitely warm your toes. For a less spicy version of this warming drink, substitute ground ancho pepper for the cayenne. Or experiment and replace the cayenne, cinnamon and cardamom with chili or Cajun blends. To eschew spice altogether, simply omit the cayenne and ground pepper. MAKES 1 TO 2 SERVINGS OF SPICY HOT COCOA.

• 1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (preferably fair-trade)
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper OR 1/4 teaspoon ground ancho pepper, to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 2 cups water or unsweetened soymilk
• 2 tablespoons honey OR agave nectar, to taste

1. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix dry ingredients.

2. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine soymilk (or water) with cocoa mixture and sweetener. Stir constantly over medium heat until you have a smooth, velvety texture.

3. Serve warm in mugs or demitasse cups.

Fresh tip: Garnish each mug with a large cinnamon stick or long, thin red serrano pepper for stirring.

Letitia L. Star is a freelance writer and recipe developer who frequently contributes to The Herb Companion.

Click here for the main article, Warm Up with Winter Drinks.

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