Friday, November 26, 2010

Food for the gods

Someone I know took a terrible fall this week after the first snow and ice of the season. She was walking out her front door and in a split second, she slipped and broke her leg. Now, with five titanium pins in her femur, she is home recuperating. 

With that experience in mind, I hunkered down indoors, safe from the elements and my own clumsiness. I whipped up my special dark, delicious drink.  It packs a small punch of flavonoids which have beneficial effects on cholesterol and inflammation.  
The ancient Mayans considered cocoa a food for the gods, a cure-all, an aphrodisiac. The Spaniards consume it as part of their first meal of the New Year. Chocolate con churros is said to be the perfect cure for a hangover.
A childhood friend who is married to a Spaniard told me about a Spanish legend about Queen Maria Teresa, the wife of King Louis XIV. Legend goes, the Queen's teeth were black from her addiction to chocolate. (I am happy to report that my own addiction hasn't cost me my teeth, yet.) 

I tracked down the most luxurious hot chocolate. CafĂ© Angelina in Paris near the Louvre serves up a 14-ounce mini-pitcher with fresh whipped cream on the side. 
This was my lunch one afternoon. I dragged hubby back for seconds the next day. I have my own version of hot chocolate. It is thick, velvety and slightly spicy. A welcome elixir on a wintery night.

AK's Spicy Hot Chocolate
AK's Spicy Hot Chocolate
100 grams/ 6 ounces good dark chocolate - minimum 65%  
3/4 cup milk or almond/soya milk at room temperature       
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg  
Pinch dried chilli pepper flakes or 1 dried chilli pepper, slit down the middle
Pinch crushed szechuan peppercorns
Pinch sea salt

Carefully melt the chocolate, making sure it does not burn.  
Stir in the milk. 
Add cinnamon, nutmeg, dried chilli pepper.
Pour into espresso cups.
Sprinkle sea salt and szechuan peppercorns on top.

This rich recipe makes enough for one generous mug, but I recommend sharing between two or three chocoholics. And use a spoon to scoop out every last drop.

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