Thursday, December 15, 2011

What Ingredients Lurk in Your Hot Chocolate?

Cold West Michigan winters + kids + love of chocolate = hot chocolate!

Last winter our family came in from an hour of cold snow play to cups of hot chocolate.  We weren't a few sips in and our son had a stomach spell -- again.  I flipped over the store brand package and read an extensive list of things I couldn't pronounce or even begin to understand.

Not to single out any particular brand, as all cheap hot chocolates mixes have a similar ingredient list, but really think about the stuff that is in typical hot chocolate.

My brief research led to to learn that all you really need for hot chocolate in a scoop or two of unsweetened cocoa powder of your choice along with an additional scoop or two of powdered sugar.  Perhaps ad a splash of vanilla, a dash of salt, cinnamon, Cayenne, nutmeg or flavoring of your choosing and you're good to go.

This is when I also found that it is natural in the process to have a bit of chocolate sludge at the bottom of your cup that you can choose to consume or discard because natural cocoa doesn't dissolve.

This year, I found a large pre-mixed container of Starbucks natural hot chocolate at our local Costco for $12.99 and containing 55 servings.  A serving is 2 TBS and has 80 calories, but I have found my "diet version" of 1 TBS and 40 calories to be adequate.  It really depends on the size of your cup and chocolate intensity desire.

So, we will gladly trade in our 17+ ingredient (see list on can above) stuff for a *3-ingredient (sugar, cocoa, vanilla) natural cup of hot cocoa.

*Processed with alkali is in reference to Dutch Processing and includes an acid reducer such as baking soda.  Dutch Processing greatly reduces the antioxidant power of chocolate.  To keep more of the antioxidants or avoid the alkali process, mix your own using Ghirardelli brand unsweetened cocoa powder.  They developed the Broma Process that leaves everything in its natural state resulting in a bit darker chocolate and significantly more anti-oxidants.

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