When I think of chocolate milk I get a big giddy and even a bit excited. Sometimes I find myself even salivating. I can’t remember a time in my life when chocolate milk (or chocolate anything) didn’t have this profound effect on me……or most everyone I know. Growing up I drank ridiculous amounts of chocolate milk: more than I care to remember. The likes of Nestlé’s Quick and Ovaltine filled our pantry, enticing us into never-ending chocolate drink bliss. After all, these magical powders turned our ordinary milk into delicious concoctions with unending satisfaction. Unfortunately I was missing out on the real thing made with whole unprocessed ingredients which turned out to be even better.
Fast forward to the present when I actually think about what I eat and drink. My focus has shifted dramatically away from mere temporary palate gratification to a holistic long term gratification. And with that my taste has changed. I now want intense, super flavorful, and nutritious enjoyment which meant that old processed chocolate drink had to go. For many years I used carob powder to avoid caffeine but it just wasn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, I love carob. It’s perfect in so many dishes and has its own enormous appeal. But it’s not the same thing as chocolate. I missed the chocolate milk from my childhood. It wasn’t until raw chocolate or raw cacao was re-introduced into the world many years later that my chocolate creams could come alive again.
Chocolate has a long and very interesting history. In the ancient world, cacao (the indigenous form of chocolate) or Theobroma (“food of the gods”) was cherished for it’s medicinal qualities and unique flavor. Raw cacao beans were used to make a then popular spicy and bitter beverage. The beans were also considered quite valuable. In fact, the Aztecs used them as currency.
During the 1500’s cacao beans were transported abroad and a transformation occurred. First the beans were heat-processed which destroyed many of the medicinal qualities as well as the enzymes. Later the beans were blended with refined sugars and saturated fats, and ultimately chemicals and artificial flavors. The result was a creamier, sweeter, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate that was less perishable and considered more sophisticated. However this new “chocolate” was a far cry from the original medicinal food that healed and increased longevity.
Eventually chocolate came to be viewed as the culprit for all sorts of ailments from migraines to acne to weight gain, even making its way onto lists of top foods to avoid. It took some rethinking and education to sort out the real culprits from the perceived ones, and some dedicated effort to bring this once healthy bean back to life.
Fast forward to the end of the 20th century and the re-introduction of the indigenous raw cacao bean. Since that veil was lifted, real cacao has made its way onto shelves all over the world with promises of increased vigor, energy, memory, sex drive, and improved overall health; the same qualities it was known for in the ancient world. I could now create my pure and healthy chocolate drink without any guilt.
When I decided to develop my perfect chocolate fantasy, I thought about it….alot. I pondered on what my drink would be like; the flavors and textures involved, and what ingredients I would use. I wanted it on the thinner side (as a true cacao drink should be) with assorted spices, natural sweeteners, and a bit of fruit essence. But the cacao had to speak volumes over the other symphony of flavors. I wanted this drink to remind me of a decadent but healthy gourmet bittersweet chocolate bar. Naked, rustic, and mouthwatering was my goal.
I started with cashew nuts for the milk base. I then added raw organic cacao powder, infused my drink with fruit powder and essential oil for complexity, added a few favorite spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and natural sweetener, and finally blended in cacao butter for melt-in-your-mouth sensation.
The result was an incredibly delicious truly deep “chocolate” drink with unbending resolve and unending flavor. When my drink was served to guests, no one spoke. They just sipped and savored. This silence spoke volumes to me. Dare I say that cacao is the great silencer? I hope you will enjoy this ancient celestial food that remains a modern delicacy.
This recipe is dairy and gluten-free, and serves 2 persons.
Dreams of Cacao
Make sure your cacao powder is very fine for smoother texture.
The pomegranate or goji powder can be replaced with another acidic sweet fruit flavor such as strawberry or raspberry powder.
If using a high speed blender you don’t need to melt the cacao butter as it will melt during blending. If you prefer you can melt it to room temperature.
Use only 100% pure (and preferably organic) food grade orange essential oil. Some essential oils may be mixed with other oils, contain chemicals, are derived from GMO sources, and/or may not be safe for consuming. Read labels before purchasing or using.
You can substitute the Sweet Cashew Milk with 1 1/2 cups water plus 1/2 cup soaked and rinsed raw cashews.
- 2 cups Sweet Cashew Milk or 2 cups water with 1/2 cup soaked and rinsed cashew nuts
- 1 oz or 2 Tbsp cacao butter
- 2 – 3 Tbsp cacao powder or carob powder to taste
- 1 tsp pomegranate powder or goji powder
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 – 3 drops orange essential oil or blood orange essential oil
- 2 vanilla beans or 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla-flavored stevia to taste
- 1 – 2 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar or honey or other natural sweetener of choice to taste
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- pinch of ground cayenne
- Add all ingredients to a blender.
- Blend on high-speed until very smooth, warm, and frothy.
- Pour into serving glasses and enjoy.
- Yields about 2 1/2 cups.
- Can be stored refrigerated up to 3 days. Re-blend until warm before serving.