I love healthy and beautiful drinks. For me a drink has to have a good deal of visual appeal to even entice me into that first sip. If it doesn’t look good, I’m usually not interested. After all most of us can feast on visual alone. So when that magic combination of great appeal and great taste crosses my path, a drink suddenly becomes more than just a drink. It’s a soul-lifting experience and the smiles just never stop. Almond Mocha Dreams of Cacao
Ironically, the inspiration for this luscious shake was a good old-fashioned root beer float. They were practically a weekend tradition when I was growing up, along with matinees and long drives in the country. Inevitably we’d all end up at a drive-up stand, hungry and longing for some hot sandwiches and a root beer float. One of the things I remember about my float is watching it intently as the melting frozen creaminess on top would spiral downward into the dark fizzy root beer, creating a cascade of interesting patterns. Funny the things you remember from your childhood.
This fond vision came back to me one day as I was eating my brownies Glazed Chili Chocolate Cake Brownies. I knew I wanted a new memory and delicious tradition, one that blended seamlessly with my current healthy eating obsession. And of course it had to have swirls. Why have ordinary when you can have a work of art?
This drink is very elegant. I say “elegant” because of the marbling effect created by the chocolate sauce floating down throughout the shake. It’s amazingly easy to achieve and adds so much haughtiness to this drink. To me anything ‘marble’ has always seems like the height of taste and class. Even if it’s a cheap $2.00 a square foot marble, it still has that look of refinement and haute couture. Some things in life are just like that; dripping with class and elegance. But this drink has substance too. Elegance with substance; now there’s a winning combination.
I started out with raw cashews. Was there ever any doubt? Then added in rich and creamy coconut, aromatic vanilla, and lovely butterscotch. Butterscotch…that forgotten pleasure of lore. Why this incredible flavor went out of vogue escapes me. But here it is again. And in case you’ve never tried it before, you’ll probably fall in love just like I did.
The marbling sauce is a luscious chocolate syrup that’s ridiculously easy to make. You don’t even need any electrical equipment. Add a few ingredients to a small bowl and stir well. There you have it, instant healthy and mouth-watering thick chocolate sauce. How simple is that? After all those years of buying pre-made chocolate sauce in a jar thinking there had to be some special manufacturing process to it, I’m still agog at how I missed out on the ease of just making it myself.
One of the main ingredients in the chocolate sauce is coconut oil. Coconut oil is one of my favorite and most used oils, a permanent fixture in my pantry (and bathroom), and one of the most lauded oils in the world. But it didn’t always enjoy such a stellar reputation. At one time, this super food alienated earnest health seekers dare I say even repelled them in spite of the fact that it’s been a staple in many countries for thousands of years.
Fortunately coconut oil was eventually given a nutritional makeover and took it’s rightful place as one of the healthiest and most versatile oils in the world. The coconut oil I use is unrefined. Unrefined is the least processed and contains the most nutrients. It also has the strongest taste; perfect for this creamy and delicious sauce.
It can be a bit confusing when deciding which coconut oil to purchase and what their differences are.
“Virgin” coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of fresh mature coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals; it’s considered unrefined and a whole food. This oil has the highest concentration of nutrients and the strongest coconut flavor.
“Refined” coconut oil is made from dried coconut meat that may have been chemically bleached and deodorized. Sometimes solvents and other chemicals are also used during this manufacturing process. Not as natural as virgin coconut oil but many people prefer using this when they want less coconut flavor.
“Partially Hydrogenated” coconut oil is yet another alternative that processed a step father and one that I personally never use. This type of processing transforms some of the unsaturated fats into trans fats and can actually raise cholesterol and LDL levels. Mainly manufacturers use this oil in their commercial products.
Why I only use virgin coconut oil:
A 2007 study in the “Journal of Medicinal Food” found that virgin coconut oil contains three fatty acids (caprylic acid, capric acid and lauric acid) that can help to beat a yeast overgrowth of candida. The levels of these three fatty acids are reduced when the oil is refined and over processed. Further loss of vitamins and minerals (such as a-Tocopherol and Vitamin K) also ensues during this refining process whereas all the naturally occurring nutrients and enzymes remain intact in virgin coconut oil. The phenolic content alone in virgin coconut oil is 7 times higher than that of refined coconut oil. Plant phenols are especially important in helping protect against stress-related disorders including cancer. Virgin coconut oil also has a light, sweet and nutty coconut flavor and aroma whereas refined and other highly refined coconut oils have very little if any flavor. The mellow flavor balances out both sweet and savory dishes, and can help reduce the amount of added sugar in sweets.
Once my creamy syrup and shake were made and swirled together in perfect harmony, this drink became a whirlwind of contrasting yet synchronized flavors. Of course I had to call it “Pure Indulgence” because that’s exactly what it is. When I want satisfy-to-the-bone and cure-my-sweet-tooth decadence in a drink, this is one treat I readily indulge in. And without guilt. How sweet can life be? Pretty sweet.
This drink is creamy, smooth, chocolaty, fun, beautiful, can I go on and on about it? Yes! I won’t take a bow though because the ingredients deserve all the credit. Perfect for last minute entertaining, a special moment in time, a celebration, a holiday……now I have to ask, when is a great chocolate drink not reason enough to celebrate? I hope you give it a try, keeping in mind that you don’t have to live in a mansion to enjoy the wealth of this delicious and elegant drink.
This recipe is dairy and gluten-free, and serves 2 persons.
This recipe has two parts that are added together once each is made. The syrup only takes a minute or two so I usually make the Shake first the immediately make the Chocolate Syrup.
Make sure the powder you use for the syrup is very fine. Gritty powder won’t work by simply stirring the ingredients together. You’ll have to use a blender. Double or even triple the recipe if using a blender.
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup cacao or carob powder (make sure the powder is very fine)
- 2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil
- 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla or vanilla-flavored stevia to taste
- 2 – 3 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar or other natural sweetener to taste
- Add ingredients to a small mixing bowl.
- Whisk vigorously until smooth.
- Set aside on the counter until ready to use.
- Yields about 1/2 cup. Can be stored refrigerated however it will solidify. Warm before using.
- 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 2 – 8 hours then drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups coconut water or water
- 2 Tbsp coconut butter/coconut cream
- 2 – 3 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar or other natural sweetener to taste
- 1/2 tsp butterscotch extract or flavoring (optional but highly recommended)
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla-flavored stevia to taste
- pinch of sea salt
- few ice cubes for each serving glass:
- Add ingredients to a blender.
- Blend on high-speed until smooth.
- Remove and pour over ice cubes in serving glasses until almost full.
- Yields about 2 1/2 cups.
To create the marbling effect:
- Pour 3 – 4 tablespoons Syrup into the center of each glass filled with the Shake. The Syrup will solidify and create patterns as it floats down as well as solidify on top. You can also swirl it into patterns if you like.
- Garnish as desired.
- Serve immediately.