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Crazy for Cocoa

While we most often associate cocoa with sweet treats, it’s a fine addition to some savory dishes as well. Some cooks like to add a bit of cocoa powder to a pot of chili, a rich savory sauce or bean soups and stews. Here are some more delicious ways to enjoy cocoa.

Texas Sheet Cake CupcakesCocoa is one of my favorite treats. Whether it’s a mug of steaming hot chocolate, a dusting of cocoa over pancakes and waffles, Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Cocoa Cookies  or a Texas Sheet Cake Cupcake, cocoa warms my soul.

Did you know that what we think of as hot chocolate or hot cocoa is nothing like the original drink? Back then it was made by mixing water with ground cacao beans that contained all of their natural cocoa butter. Since oil and water don’t mix, the cocoa butter floated on top and the whole gritty conglomeration never blended properly. What a mess! Thank goodness for modern-day delicious hot chocolate beverages like creamy and spicy Mexican Hot Cocoa. It’s perfect for a chilly autumn day!


Cocoa Peanut Sandies

While we most often associate cocoa with sweet treats, it’s a fine addition to some savory dishes as well. Mole sauce is a good example; Check out this easy cinnamon and chipotle chili-spiked Mole Chicken recipe. Some cooks like to add a bit of cocoa powder to a pot of chili, a rich savory sauce or bean soups and stews.

Here are some more delicious ways to enjoy cocoa:

  • Sprinkle cocoa powder on hot cooked cereal such as oatmeal. Drizzle with a little honey and top with favorite nuts or seeds such as pecans or walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

  • Add cocoa to a smoothie like Chocolate Almond Dream Smoothie.

  • Make simple nondairy hot cocoa by heating unsweetened almondmilk with cocoa powder and a favorite natural sweetener such as maple syrup or honey. Whisk while heating. For something a little different, add a pinch of ground cardamom or ginger.

  • Cookies for breakfast? Absolutely when they are these no-added-sugar Cocoa-Peanut Cookies! Enjoy them for breakfast, a snack or dessert. They’re perfect with a steaming cup of hot tea or another favorite beverage. Almond butter or sunflower seed butter can be substituted for peanut butter if desired.

  • Dust cocoa powder over cakes, cookies and quick breads. Bonus tip: If instructed to “butter and flour” a cake pan when you’re making a chocolate cake, use cocoa powder instead of flour for an extra boost of chocolate flavor and no light-colored streaks on the finished cake!

  • Cocoa Peanut Cereal Balls is another idea for breakfast or snack time. To make this recipe caffeine-free, use a use a coffee substitute like a grain or chicory beverage or just use water.

  • Cocoa Walnut Crust is a healthy, gluten-free pie crust you can fill with your favorite filling like chocolate mousse or seasonal fruit.

  • Pack some Cocoa-Peanut Sandies in a brown bag lunch. They’re flavored with salted peanuts and bittersweet cocoa.

  • Mix cocoa powder with maple syrup or honey and a dash of milk or beverage. Use as a glaze for cookies, toast, scones, cakes and cupcakes. Or, try our Vegan Cocoa Glaze.

  • Chocolate Pecan Cake is lovely for special occasions. It’s made with buttermilk, pecans and cocoa.

  • Love brownies? Brown-Butter Spelt Brownies make a yummy treat.

Wondering about the difference between cacao and cocoa? Cacao is the bean that grows inside cacao pods on the cacao tree. Once harvested, these raw beans are fermented and dried, cleaned and roasted. At this point, they are called cocoa beans. 
Are you crazy for cocoa? What’s your favorite use?       

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