“E.A.T. #2 Spicy Mexican-style Cocoa Mix”


#2 E.A.T. Spicy Mexican-style Cocoa Mix

This is #2 in my E.A.T (Easy as That) series on how to make lots of delectables at home that are much tastier, less expensive & better quality that buying pre-packaged from high-end groceries & specialty  markets.

Hot, spicy cocoa mixes…..You might know the ones I am talking about…they are packaged in beautifully printed boxes that reflect fabrics from whatever country’s spice profile is represented? Mexico, Peru,  India….I really love these very peppery hot cocoa mixes & their beautiful little decorative boxes that unfortunately contain just a few tablespoons inside for over $8.00! I received a box as a gift last year & was hooked, but quickly realized that my palate, my pocketbook  & my psyche were miles apart.

 I am one of those coffee drinkers who love a cup of strong black coffee laced with a generous dollop of hot milk and a tablespoonful of a spicy hot cocoa mix. To the coffee purists among you this is probably just too much gilding the lily, but it is the most comforting of hot drinks on still chilly early Spring mornings. The aroma is both earthy & ethereal.

Ingredients:

8 ounces good quality cocoa

1-2 cups raw sugar

1/4 cup espresso powder

5-6 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate (I used 2 Olive & Sinclair Mexican Style Stone Ground bars)chopped into small pieces

1 generous tsp each freshly ground black pepper & sea salt

1 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cardamom pod

2 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper (I used almost 2, but I like it hot)

Instructions:

1. Place all  ingredients in a food processor. Process until chocolate pieces are ground finely with other ingredients. Remove lid, taste, adjust to your taste. Add more sugar or cayenne, espresso powder? Whatever you like.

2. Store “Spicy Mexican-style Cocoa Mix” in jars with air-tight lids. This makes a fine gift for a fellow hot cocoa lover.

3. To make a hot cup of “Spicy Mexican -style Cocoa Mix” I heat 1 to 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk in a pan over medium heat. When milk just begins to bubble around the edges of the pan I stir in 1 generous tablespoon of the mix. Stir until dissolved in the hot milk. Serve in your favorite cup or mug.

“It’s as easy as that!”

“Music City Mocha Chip Cookies”

“Music City Mocha Chip Cookies”

(developed for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011)

This chewy cookie is subtly bold with a hint of heat… it is familiarly cozy in its chocolatey-ness, but is that coffee I smell? Hmmm….molasses?

As my cookies were to be mailed out to three fellow food bloggers scattered around the country it was important to me to use  as many local ingredients as possible to share a taste of Music City.   Chewy, chocolatey (Olive & Sinclair) with a hint of coffee (Bongo Java) and a little unexpected “bite” via hot pepper was what I settled on as the flavor profile.  I made about 3 recipes before I got to the one you see here. They were all tasty, but I was just dancing around until I came up with my “Music City Mocha Chip Cookie”, a cozy little cookie that is great with a glass of milk for Santa….

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (White Lily or Martha White) mixed with 1/2 tsp baking soda & 1 tsp sea or kosher salt

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temp (Farmer’s Market)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1 generous Tbsp Sorghum Molasses (Tennessee)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temp (Farmer’s Market)

3 Tbsp finely ground coffee (Bongo Java “Mystic’)

 2 cups chopped semi sweet chocolate (Olive & Sinclair chocolate)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper + more to garnish if desired

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream butter, brown sugar & granulated sugars together until fluffy using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.

3. Add in eggs one at a time.  Scrape down sides of bowl often. With mixer on low add in ground coffee & vanilla extract.

4. Add the flour mixture until well blended. Sprinkle in cayenne pepper & cocoa & mix well.

5. Stir in chopped chocolate until fully incorporated. Chill dough for 1 hour before baking.

6. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart after dipping tops of  dough balls in decorative sugar crystals.

7. Bake until cookies are puffy & the surface starts to “crack”. About 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle on more decorative sugar & extra cayenne if desired,  cool on wire racks. Cookies will keep for up to one week stored in airtight containers with waxed paper between layers.

The dozens of cookies were baked, cooled and readied for mailing. I wanted my cookies to arrive at their destinations in good shape, in fun packaging, something a bit special and Holiday-like. I found great sturdy tins & mailing boxes at The Container Store. My tags I made using imagery from my many Christmas catalogs.  I used a Christmas tree rubber stamp I made last year to decorate the outside of the mailing box. I inserted more catalog imagery into the top of the tins and constructed ingredients list envelopes using art paper scraps & cardboard…I really had to make myself stop…those boxes had to get in the mail!

Bon Voyage “Music City Mocha Chip Cookies”, Bon Voyage.

Thanks to Julie (http://thelittlekitchen.net) and Lindsay (http://loveandoliveoil.com) for organizing this fun event.

Here are the cookies I received:

From Megan at http://www.mlbailey.blogspot.com
From Nancy at rivertreekitchen.com
From Steph at willrun4treats.com

….bake, share & have a very, very sweet holiday….