Cool weather is (finally)here….
Now that the weather has cooled off for the year (and here in the south, “cool” means less than 70 degrees), I’ve got a craving for all things cozy. Flannel shirts, blankets, fireplaces, pumpkin muffins, and….hot chocolate. Nothing beats sipping some hot chocolate on the back porch, wrapped in a blanket, and admiring my pretty cover crops and fall/winter vegetables.
Now that my garden is filled with lots of goodies, I get to just sit back and enjoy the view. Fall season brings lots of rain down here in South Carolina, so my watering is pretty minimum. Pests aren’t as bad, nor are the weeds.
I’m still harvesting watermelon, kale, beans, and peppers from my spring/summer garden as well. Life is good. Hot chocolate is good. But you know what makes homemade hot chocolate even better? Spices. Now that gardening is slowing down, I can focus on getting more spices in my diet again.
This hot chocolate recipe is one of my ways to get more whole spices in my food/drinks. It includes both cinnamon and cardamom. Both cinnamon and cardamom should have a place in your kitchen, as they are both super tasty and full of medicinal benefits (read more about cinnamon’s benefits and cardamom’s benefits). Of course, as with most spices, both cardamom and cinnamon are best in the whole-form, not the ground old junk from the store.
The combination of cardamom and cinnamon in this hot chocolate gives it a tasty chai-like taste. So it satisfies cravings for both hot chocolate AND chai in one drink. Score!
Seriously, once you start adding spices to your hot chocolate, it’s hard to stop! I’ve got tons of spice-filled hot chocolate recipes floating around in my head, but this Cardamom Spiced Hot Chocolate recipe is still one of my favorites.
It is completely customizable, which I really love. So, if you are avoiding dairy, use coconut milk! Want to make it healthy? Use cacao instead of cocoa. Don’t want to add sugar? Use maple syrup or honey! So grab yourself a blanket and flannel shirt, go snuggle up on your porch, and enjoy this super tasty chai-like hot chocolate. Make it super special with some homemade whipped cream on it too. Enjoy! 🙂
Cardamom Spiced Hot Chocolate
- 2 cups milk (or for a thicker treat, use cream or half and half OR for dairy free, use full-fat coconut milk)
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder OR cacao powder
- 2 tbsp. sweetener of choice (I prefer maple syrup, but sugar, honey, or coconut sugar work as well)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. bruised cardamom pods (to bruise a pod, simply use a rolling pin over the pod or use the flat end of a butcher’s knife and gently push.)
- 1-2 sticks of cinnamon
- Optional: a few pinches of other spices like: nutmeg, ginger, and/or cloves
- In a saucepan, whisk together all of the ingredients.
- Heat on low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding (don’t use a higher heat to make this quickly: a low heat will simmer and blend the spices into the milk perfectly. While waiting, start the process of relaxing. Life should be slower, like making this drink. There’s probably a life lesson in here somewhere….)
- Allow your hot chocolate to simmer on low heat for at least 15 minutes. I like to let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Feel free to use your waiting time to make some homemade whipped cream.
- When ready, strain it into 2 coffee mugs (these ones are cute!). Or just one mug, drink it, and then come back for seconds. Enjoy. 🙂
**If this beverage is too thick for you, simply add more milk. I often taste-test towards the end to decide it it’s too bitter (then add more sweetener) or if it needs more chocolate. I know it’s ready to drink when the scent of spices wafts my way. Mmmmm…..
What is YOUR favorite Hot Chocolate recipe?