Once upon a time I was one of those strange people who hated chocolate. It wasn't until I was 16 years old that I figured out what all the hype was about. What changed my mind? Stone ground cacao!
When I was 16 I spent my summer abroad living in a small Zapotec community in Oaxaca's Sierra Norte leading youth development and nutrition classes. Every morning I would wake up with the Sun and help my host mother make breakfast. We often started our day with hand whipped hot chocolate made from chocolate she roasted and ground by hand. I savored these moments around the Comal, filling my belly with sweet warmth and sharing stories from the heart.
Oaxaca has a rich chocolate history that dates back centuries. Hot chocolate is served for breakfast throughout the state both at home and on the street. The women in my Pueblo often had to travel into the city (by colectivo/taxi) and pay to have their roasted cacao ground for them if they didn't want to grind it by hand.
That summer, my partners (two other high schoolers) and I were able to work with the community leaders to start a chocolate milling cooperative. Working together we were able to secure funding to purchase a Molino (grinder) for the community so that women wouldn't have to travel to grind their cacao for personal use or market.
During our last week in the Pueblo we were invited into a lovely woman's home to make chocolate with her. Together we walked to la tienda to purchase a kilo of raw cocoa, a kilo of sugar, and Mexican canela (cinnamon).
She welcomed us lovingly into her home to help roast the cacao and later to the Molino to be ground with the cinnamon and sugar. After the mixture was milled, we shaped the gritty chocolate into logs to dry and harden.
It was a long day full of conversation and robust smells. A day that will remain in my heart forever. I was able to bring a bag of chocolate back home with me and I cherished every. single. bar, often making chocolate for my friends and family.
Eventually my chocolate stash dwindled and I couldn't find a commercial chocolate that hit the same spot.
Fast forward 16 years and I find myself in the checkout line at Whole Foods. My daughter sees a round package of chocolate and ask me what it is. Unbeknownst to her she found the chocolate Holy Grail! I couldn't help myself and nibbled on a piece on our way to the car. I was instantly transported back into my host mother's kitchen and began to cry.
That summer in Oaxaca forever changed the course of my life and something as simple and as beautiful as sharing a beverage with strangers played a huge part in that.
The following morning I decided I was going to surprise my family with hand whipped hot chocolate. To make the chocolate even more special I decided to add a boost of herbal goodness by adding a tablespoon of maca into the mix.
The recipe couldn't be easier.
All you need is a cup of your milk of choice, a tablespoon of maca powder, and a few wedges (
About 30 grams) of cinnamon flavored Mexican stone-ground cacao.
Bring your milk to a simmer and add you are maca. Whisk to combine.
Next, place your wedges in the bottom of your favorite mug. Slowly pour the milk and Maca mixture into said mug and whisk until chocolate is fully melted and frothy. If you want the full effect, I recommend purchasing an authentic molinillo.