Good for the Heart & Soul: Mocha!

November 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

It’s by no means “bone-chilling-cold” in Tucson, Arizona.  But the nighttime temperatures are scooting toward the 30s and I’m afraid to use my gas heater.  As such, I’ve come up with a good reason to untangle myself from 18 very-warm blankets each morning.  May I present my latest, daily, sweet-tooth habit: A piping hot, creamy, good-for-the-soul mocha.  This isn’t your standard (400 calorie) coffee-shop, chocolaty-espresso drink, but rather, a slightly-less-decadent, winning morning addition to my yogurt & granola addiction.

For the past two weeks, I’ve scuttled out of bed (toes scampering across cold tile) to heat up the water pot while I commence the unexciting doldrums of morning (washing face; yawning).  Minutes later, water pot whistling, I whip up a mocha (or a pumpkin latte; recipe coming!).  When the drink is steaming-hot, I fill up my travel mug.  The house smells rich and spicy.  I get ready for work.  I walk to the university.  When I arrive, I unlock the thick, wooden door and open the flappy blinds by my two desk windows.  I wheel the horrendously squeaky chair over to the desk past two, crammed bookshelves, a road bike and cardboard boxes stuffed with plant presses and old newspaper clippings, and I settle in by the humming computer.  I sip my special drink, beginning the work day.

Ingredients:
1 cup almond milk (plain)
1/2 cup strongly-brewed coffee
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping tablespoon dark cocoa powder (high quality)
1 tablespoon hot chocolate powder (high quality)*
pinch evaporated cane sugar or spoonful of honey, to taste**
1/4 tsp. vanilla (optional)

*As an annual splurge, I buy this Fair Trade cocoa from Conacado in the Dominican Republic.

**For those on a vegan diet, omit honey and swap with maple syrup.

Method:

1. Prepare coffee.  My method, using a french press: Place 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee beans in the bottom of the glass jar.   Heat a half cup of water on the stove until boiling.  Remove boiling water from heat and let cool for just a moment (so it stops bubbling), then pour water into fresh press and steep 4 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, combine almond milk, cocoa, hot chocolate powder and cinnamon in a small saucepan on the stove.  Heat on medium-high heat and whisk, on-and-off, as the liquid begins to heat.  When the coffee is prepared, pour into the almond milk mixture and continue whisking.

3.  Stop whisking when bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan (don’t bring the whole mixture to a boil).  Add vanilla.  Take a quick taste.  If too bitter for your preference, add a half teaspoon of honey or evaporated cane sugar and whisk until combined.  Serves two small or one generous portion.

Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan (see asterisk)

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