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Usually when we talk about cacao it refers to chocolate that’s unrefined and in its natural state without any sugar added. Cacao’s taste is bitter, stimulating, and oh so chocolatey.
Cacao smells divine, but it doesn’t taste wonderful until you combine it with other flavors that can play in the same ballpark with its strong taste.
This recipe for hot spiced cacao balances out the cacao’s bitter flavor and stimulating qualities with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and natural sugar.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, chocolate is heating and stimulating, and considered difficult to digest. If you examine how cacao is made, you can start to understand this better.
Chocolate is a fermented product, so that adds additional fire element to it. All fermented products are sharp and enzymatic. The next steps in the process are to dry the cacao and then roast it. Each step in the processing of cacao adds more intensity to the flavor.
These qualities are most irritating to Vata (stimulating) and Pitta (heating), and best for Kapha (stimulating).
Not only do most of us love chocolate, it also has a lot of health benefits:
- Soluble fiber
- Iron, magnesium, copper, manganese
- Potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium
- Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids
- Very high in antioxidant polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins
- Improves circulation and helps to relieve chest congestion
I’d love to share with you some of the beneficial qualities of the spices in this hot spiced cacao.
Cardamom is an aromatic that has an antispasmodic and relaxing effect on the body. It accelerates gastric emptying, and helps to combat heaviness and stagnation in the stomach.
As a counter to the stimulating effects of chocolate, we appreciate cardamom’s grounding quality that keeps digestion moving in a downward direction.
Cardamon is a powerful mucus destroyer that also assists with fat digestion. We appreciate its support with digesting the milk, or almond milk, in this recipe. These qualities are supportive for clearing stagnation from the lymphatic system.
Ginger is one of the best all-around digestive spices. It stimulates digestive juices, and relieves nausea and indigestion. It’s warming, but not too warming. It also helps to burn away heaviness and congestion as well.
Cinnamon is demulcent, heating, and light, and it also counteracts the mucus provoking qualities of dairy. Its anti-microbial qualities also reduce gas and fermentation in the gastrointestinal tract.
Nutmeg is another aromatic that helps to cut through the fat of milk and assists with digestion. It is also a mild sedative and nervine. Nutmeg has a balancing effect when mixed with some of the other aromatics.
Did We Get All the Six Tastes?
The Six Tastes represent all five elements that comprise matter in this universe, so when you can include all six tastes in a dish or meal you will feel more satisfied.
Since this drink is missing the sour taste, enjoy it with something like apple pie, or apple crisp to enhance your enjoyment. Still, five tastes is pretty good, and we got quite a bit of sweet to balance out the bitter taste.
For those of you who have the Ayurvedic herb amalaki on hand, try a pinch of it in this drink to add the sour taste.
- Sweet: cinnamon, almond milk, cow’s milk, sugar
- Sour: n/a
- Salty: salt
- Bitter: bitter
- Pungent: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger
- Astringent: cinnamon, nutmeg
Hot Spiced Cacao
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- tiny pinch Himalayan pink salt
- 1 cup almond milk (sub with cow’s milk or another plant-based milk of your choice)
- 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar (sub with brown sugar, coconut sugar, turbinado, raw sugar, maple syrup, or honey)
- 3 slices ginger freshly sliced
- 3-4 cardamom pods (sub with 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder)
- Combine cacao powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the milk and stir well to incorporate into a paste. If you are using the cardamom pods in this recipe, crush them in a mortar and pestle first to release their flavor and aroma. (Alternately, open up the cardamon pods to expose the seeds by crushing them with the flat edge a butter knife, or grinding them in a coffee grinder reserved for spices.)
- Heat milk, sugar, ginger slices, and crushed cardamom pods in a small pot over medium heat. Watch carefully and reduce the heat before it comes to a boil. You want to keep it just below the boiling temperature.
- Add the spiced cacao paste into the hot milk, and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Watch carefully, and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes with the heat on very low. This will allow the cacao and spices to develop their flavors and harmonize together.
- Choose your favorite mug and pour the spiced cacao through a strainer and into the mug.
- Enjoy the aroma and the experience.