* There’s still time to get your comment in for the Aerolatte milk frother giveaway. I’ll be closing comments at midnight tonight.
We woke up Monday morning to our first snow in Indiana. It would have been a perfect moment for all my southern friends and family to say, “See! We told you… you’re gonna FREEZE up there!” except for the fact that my home state of Mississippi beat us to the snow punch, having a similar light dusting three days before us.
School wasn’t canceled, but I had one home recovering from strep throat and another home with suspiciously red eyes (it turned out to be nothing more than a bad cold). So it was like a real snow day — the one where school is canceled — and since everyone was feeling ok, we got bundled up and ventured outside.
It was wet, yucky snow. But the kids managed to scrape up enough to make those icy, painful snowballs, and hurl them at each other. Fun times, until the 3-year old gets one in the face. Weeping, gnashing of teeth, and mommy decides it’s time to come in for hot cocoa, since that’s what you do on snow days, and since it’s a good way to stop the madness.
It’s been challenging, this past year, to find alternative recipes for my little allergic guy. Something happened just before he turned three, and he all-of-a-sudden was very aware of all he had been missing. Sometimes, there’s nothing that can be done, except replace one treat with another (he can never have a piece of store-bought birthday cake; so I will do my best to bring a replacement to the party). But hot cocoa? On a snow day? There had to be a solution.
And, of course, there was — one good enough that my son and his big sister were pleased (she often doesn’t want his dairy-free treats, opting instead for the cow’s milk version — lucky me, making two of everything). I recently removed most of the soy from our diet, so the base for this hot cocoa is coconut milk tonic (just a can of coconut milk with water, sweetener, and vanilla added — recipe is below), which I use as a dairy replacement in many baked goods and in my son’s morning granola. The tonic is a great substitute for store-bought soy or rice milks, and is cheaper, with many health benefits. I think it makes a smoother, richer cocoa than ones made with soymilk, and the coconut complements the chocolate in a way that soymilk does not (no chalky soy aftertaste). It does retain some coconut flavor, which can be detected mildly in most recipes; but it’s not like gulping down a bottle of pina-colada mix.
So this recipe will first make a quart-jar of coconut milk tonic. You’ll use about half of it for the cocoa, and can reserve the rest for a second small batch, or for baking/drinking (I drink about 4-6 oz of it every day).
Hot Cocoa (dairy-free, soy-free)
(makes 4 6-oz cups, plus a leftover half-quart of coconut milk tonic)
For the coconut milk tonic (adapted from a recipe by Sally Fallon):
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk (I like 365 brand and Thai Kitchen)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan, and stir thoroughly (you can warm the mixture if your coconut milk has a lot of solids that won’t disperse — but heating it is not necessary). Pour all but 1 cup of the tonic into a quart-sized glass jar. You will make your cocoa directly in the pan, starting with the cup of tonic.
For the cocoa:
- 3 Tbsp cocoa powder (I prefer the flavor of dutched cocoa for this, i.e., Hershey’s or Droste)
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- heavy pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 more cups coconut tonic
To the 1 cup coconut milk in your saucepan, add the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Stir over medium heat until almost simmering, until the cocoa and sugar are dissolved. Stir in the remaining 2 cups coconut tonic. Heat until desired temperature, then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Ladle into mugs and enjoy immediately.