Happy winter solstice!
We’ve made it. This morning at 4:49 GMT the sun reached it’s most southerly declination. It’s the shortest day of the year and it’s only going to get lighter from here!
I love the winter solstice. Having watched the nights drawing in, and the days getting shorter and shorter, all of a sudden we know that the sun is rising from here until summer. It kind of casts a warmer glow on whatever cold and drizzly weather is yet to come. And so in celebration of this, our darkest day of the year, its time to hunker down with a blanket, a good book and a hot cup of cocoa.
I love cocoa. When I think about the little things in life that bring me great joy, cocoa is up there on par with bread making and a hot water bottle at my feet on a cold night. When I was really little my Mum used to make us real cocoa. She’d warm the milk and let us stir the cocoa and sugar into a paste before adding it. It was pure joy. Now that it’s come full circle and I can give my boys that same memory it is beyond heartwarming.
Today I decided to give the cocoa a warm twist by infusing the milk with some mellow Christmas-y spice. To do this I added a clove and a bit of allspice to the milk as it was heating, brought it nearly to the boil, and then left it to sit for 10 minutes. This does mean that you have to reheat your milk if you like it really hot, but the lovely warming flavour of the spice is well worth the extra step.
For the last while now I’ve been sweetening my cocoa with honey rather than sugar. I’m constantly amazed by how easily refined sugar is replaced with honey or maple syrup without a noticable difference, and increasingly perplexed by how we became so reliant on refined sugar in the first place. This replacement makes this lovely drink less processed and adds a little extra nutrition.
Another variable in this recipe is the kind of milk that you use. I prefer to use whole cows milk, but that really is just my own taste, and plant based milk is just as lovely. If you choose to use a plant based milk and maple syrup as a sweetener, then you’ll have lovely vegan cocoa!
This time of year is exciting. There are only a few days until Christmas, a new year is just around the corner, and its all getting brighter from here (happily for those of us who take photos of our food using only natural light, something which has had to take place in a very small time frame when the sun is kind of shining in the kitchen window…and with somewhat questionable results), but for today I’m embracing the dark cold of winter by cozying up with a hot cup of spiced cocoa and some snuggly boys. Heaven.
- 250-300 mL milk
- 1 whole clove
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 2 tsp honey or maple syrup, or to taste
- Pour the milk into a small pot with the spices and heat it over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tiny bubbles are just starting to form around the edges. Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside to infuse for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile put the cocoa powder in a cup and add 2-3 tsp of milk. Stir until it forms a smooth, thick paste.
- After the 10 minutes, strain the milk and then reheat it until it’s as hot as you like it. Pour it into the mug with the cocoa paste and stir well. Add the sweetener and stir until its well combined. Enjoy it warm while snuggled up in a cozy blanket.
- The amount of milk here is really just for guidance. The best way is to measure out the milk in the mug that you want to use.