There was no master plan when creating this drink. It was simply a case of wanting a chocolate drink that even my intense chocolate-loving palate could be satisfied with. I have pretty high (okay ridiculously high) standards when it comes to chocolate drinks as you may already know Dreams of Cacao and Almond Mocha. Sometimes even creamy and super-charged goodness are not enough.
Ironically, the inspiration for this gorgeous drink 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 root beer drive-up stand, hungry and longing for some hot sandwiches and a famous (or infamous) root beer float. One of the things I remember about my float is watching how 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. This fond vision came back to me one day as I was eating a brownie Glazed Chili Chocolate Cake Brownies. I knew I wanted to create a new memory and delicious tradition, one that blended seamlessly with my healthy eating obsession. My little venture into the past turned out to be more rewarding than I anticipated.
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 and substance; now there’s a winning combination.
I started out with raw cashews (was there ever any doubt?). Cashews were turned into creamy Cashew Milk, then textured and flavored with coconut and vanilla and oh yes, 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 never tried it, you’ll probably fall in love.
The sauce is a luscious chocolate syrup that’s ridiculously simple 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 silly 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 easily I can make a better version at home with just a few ingredients.
The main component that thickens and binds the cacao powder is coconut oil. It’s one of my favorite oils, a permanent fixture in my pantry, and one of the most lauded oils in the world. But it didn’t alway enjoy such a stellar reputation. At one time, this super food alienated earnest health seekers by the droves even though it had been a staple in many countries for thousands of years.
Coconut oil was eventually given a nutritional makeover and has taken it’s rightful place as one of the healthiest and most practical foods in the world. The coconut oil I use is virgin unrefined and a vital ingredient in this recipe, both taste-wise and nutrient-wise. It can be a bit confusing when reading coconut oil labels and understanding what they mean. Here are a few differences between virgin unrefined (what myself and other health nuts use) and refined (a popular alternative):
“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. “Refined” coconut oil is made from dried coconut meat that’s often chemically bleached and deodorized. Sometimes solvents and other chemicals are also used during this manufacturing process. Some food manufacturers may use yet another form of coconut oil that’s further processed: partially hydrogenated coconut oil. This type of processing transforms some of the unsaturated fats into trans fats and can actually raise cholesterol and LDL levels.
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 helps balance out both sweet and savory dishes, and can help reduce the amount of added sugars in sweets.
So a few good reasons to select and regularly use unrefined virgin coconut oil. Some people don’t like the taste of coconut or don’t want the flavor in a specific dish so “refined” is your answer there. But it’s a discernable compromise in the nutrient department and you may want to keep that in mind.
Once both the shake and syrup are joined, this drink becomes a whirlwind of rich flavors in every beautiful marble-ized sip. Of course I had to call it “Pure Indulgence” because that’s exactly what it is. I love my healthy clean foods but when I want satisfy-to-the-bone and cure-my-sweet-tooth decadence, this is one concoction I indulge in. And without guilt. Because lucky for me there are benefits galore. How sweet can life be? Pretty sweet.
This drink is creamy, smooth, chocolaty, fun, elegant, can I go on and on about it? Yes! I won’t take a bow though because the ingredients are the real celebrities here, not me. A perfect remedy for last minute entertaining, a celebration, a special moment in time, or an occasion…..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 this elegant and wealthy drink.
This recipe is dairy and gluten-free, and serves 2 persons.
- 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 marble 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 into the Shake, solidifying on top in the process. You can swirl it into patterns if you like.
- Garnish as desired.
- Serve immediately.