Cocoa Nib Hot Chocolate

How many of you when you think of hot chocolate think of a package of Swiss Miss? Just open the package, stir it into some hot water and drink. As a kid you probably loved it. As an adult does this really satisfy your chocolate craving? And how exciting are you to down some mono and diglyderides, artificial flavor, and carrageenan. Who needs those ingredients and who needs the Swiss (sorry Miss). How do these ingredients sound cocoa nibs, whole milk, bittersweet chocolate, sugar, water, and a pinch of kosher salt? I can easily pronounce all those words and wait there is actual chocolate in my hot chocolate, not just cocoa powder. cocoa nibs, that is close as most of us are going to get to using the actual cocoa beans themselves. I wish I would have thought up this magnificent idea, but the credit has to go to my number one source for culinary inspiration, Alton Brown. Below you will find my notes from his recipe. PRINT THE RECIPE out at Food Network’s website.

Cocoa Nib Hot Chocolate

1. You will need a spice or coffee grinder to grind up the cocoa nibs. You are going to “brew” them as you would coffee. I have a Cuisinart coffee grinder that I use for spices. It managed to make short work out of the cocoa nibs. I grinded them until they just like coffee grounds.

2. Alton heats up the milk and cocoa nibs in the microwave. You might think oh no how can a respectable cook use a microwave. Isn’t that for those frozen processed meals? Have you ever boiled milk on the stove, turned your back, and seconds later heard the sizzling sound of milk burning on your stove top. A 3 mintue trip in the microwave will help you afford that mistake and still accomplish the goal here which is to heat up the milk for the cocoa nibs to steep in it.

3. The final steps involve a french press. They can be had on the cheap, I found mine at IKEA, the more expensive ones can set you back around $50-60. They might be seen as the old fashion way to make coffee but a lot of coffee lovers swear by them (I would not know because I don’t drink coffee). You could do this recipe without it, just mix together the cocoa nib mixture (straining first) with the chocolate, sugar, water, and salt. The french press is nice because you can aerate the hot chocolate giving it a better texture on the tongue.

This isn’t your grandma’s hot chocolate. This is true HOT CHOCOLATE. It is rich. Some people might want to cut it with some more milk. I love this hot chocolate, it’s way better than anything you will get out of an envelope. The downside to it, is that it takes longer to make, so instant gratification is not possible. I started the steeping right before I went out shoveling so it would be ready for when I really needed it.

The other downside is that it’s not cheap. Cocoa nibs are expensive. An 8 oz container can run upward of $10. However I bought mine nibs a while ago and have been using them here and there in recipes for months. Also the chocolate itself can be expensive, way more than just cocoa powder. Recently I have been buying chocolate chunks available at Trader Joe’s. They aren’t like the chunks you buy in the Nestle bags. They are not uniform, they just look like a bar of chocolate that has already been cut up. The bags are 10 oz each and cost $1.99, which is a ton cheaper than most chunks of chocolate you find. Plus I didn’t even have to break up my knife and cutting board.

Best hot chocolate experience ever! Try it if you are a real dark chocolate fan.

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Homemade Peach Soda Pop

My wife’s favorite flavor of soda pop has always been peach. Not as common a flavor as say orange or lemon-lime, they are several companies that turn out pretty good peach soda like Filbert’s and Nehi. Even thought those are tasty brews, they still don’t have the genuine fresh peach taste that homemade soda does. Since it’s using real fruit then they are some healthy benefits to it, right? At least you will be avoiding High Fructose Corn Syrup or any artificial flavors or preservatives.

Now you don’t need an fancy equipment to make your own pop. Just a pot, burner, and a bottle of carbonated water. If you have one of those Soda Streams or a more traditional soda siphon that would be great but you are ok without them. It is cool to have one of those gadgets as you can better control the amount of carbonation going into your soda.

Recipe Notes

1. Making the syrup for this soda is super easy. Three ingredients : peaches, sugar, and water. You want to choose the best peaches when in season (click here to learn more about when peaches season is). This soda is only as good as the peaches in it. Cling stone or freestone it doesn’t matter.

2. In the recipe I do not indicate how much syrup to add to your carbonated water. Everyone taste’s differs. I recommend adding a little bit at a time, then tasting until you get to the strength you like.

 

Homemade Peach Soda Pop
 
Ingredients
  • 3 peaches, peeled and pits removed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Peel and removed the pits of your peaches. Place them into a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Pass through a sieve and.
  2. Bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  3. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Then add the pureed peaches.
  4. Lower the heat to medium high and cook until the mixture has thicken to a syrup consistency like maple syrup.
  5. Cool and store in the fridge until ready to use.
  6. To make the soda, fill a glass of carbonated water, and slowly stir in some syrup, tasting it until it is the strength you like.

 

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Homemade Peach Lemonade

Two of my favorite things to do with fresh in-season fruit is to make ice cream (or sorbet), and lemonade! You can’t get that fresh fruit taste out of bottle or from a powdered mix. Making your own lemonade is not that hard to do, and with lemons available year around, you can combine them with any in-season fruit, for a special treat. One of my wife’s favorite is peach lemonade. It’s simple to make. You combine a basic lemonade recipe with a peach puree.

Homemade Peach Lemonade

Also check out my recipe for blueberry lemonade.

Homemade Peach Lemonade
 
Ingredients
For the basic lemonade
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6½ cups good tasting water
For the peach puree
  • 2-3 medium peaches
  • sugar
Instructions
Making the basic lemonade
  1. Take 1 cup of the water and combine it with the 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Heat up the water to just dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
  2. Add the sugar water, lemon juice, and 5½ cups of water in a 2½ quart pitcher. Stir well to combine. Note it's important to use water that you like the taste of. If you don't like the water from your tap, use filtered water.
Adding the peaches
  1. Peel and slice the peaches. Add enough sugar to cover. I just use the same amount I would if I was just going to eat the peaches as is. Using a blender (I like an immersion blender for this) puree the peaches until they are a thick liquid. Now add the puree to the lemonade and stir to combine. Taste it and add more water or sugar based on your preference. Chill your lemonade and enjoy!

 

Behind the Scenes
I am trying a new thing out on the blog. I am sharing my behind the scenes look at how I came up with this post.
Here is your chance to see how I took the above photo. Here is a shot of my setup:

Peach Lemonade Setup

It was the middle of the afternoon when I took this shot. The only got lighting in the house was by the laundry door. So I placed my 2×2 board on top of my cooler. My wife loaned me one of her tank tops to use as the background. I took my lemonade and placed it into 1 tall Ball jar and 1 handled jar that I have had for years that I bought with jam in it. I arranged the lemons and peaches around so that it would be clear that the drink in the glass was peach lemonade. I place a white form board next to my setup to help direct more light onto my subject.

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Blueberry Lemonade Do you have a bunch of blueberries on hand and are looking for something to do with them? A great idea is to use them in some homemade lemonade. Adding blueberry flavor to lemonade, gives it an extra note of flavor that is pleasing to the tongue. It’s a very simple process to make this lemonade. It starts with making the lemonade itself and then making a blueberry puree to add to it.

For the basic lemonade
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
6 1/2 cups good tasting water

Add all these ingredients together in a 2 1/2 quart pitcher. Stir well to combine.

For the blueberry puree
6 oz fresh blueberries
sugar

Add sugar to the blueberries just to coat them as if you were going to eat them as in. Then take the blueberries for a spin in a blender or food processor. Pour the puree through a strainer to remove the skin.

Now add the puree to the lemonade and stir to combine. Taste it and add more water or sugar based on your preference. Chill your lemonade and enjoy!

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I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.
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