Lazy, Lighter Chocolat Chaud—Hot Chocolate with French Airs

Lazy, Lighter Chocolat Chaud—Hot Chocolate with French Airs

Lazy, Lighter Chocolat Chaud—Hot Chocolate with French Airs

Chocolate chaud hot chocolate cup TheTasteWorkshop.comIt snowed in the desert on National Margarita day. Neither event makes sense—a beach-boozy drink celebrated in winter and snow-covered cactus. Instead of tequila, my beverage is based on chocolate liquor—the meat of the cocoa bean.

Any cold day seems a good day for a hot chocolate break or breakfast treat to warm your body and soul. To help with that, I’m sharing this chocolat chaud recipe that I’ve tested until woozy with cocoa to get it just right, even if not exactly French.

Is this even French?

Enjoy rich foods fearlessly and without excuses! If only we could do this more often. Such a French food attitude wouldn’t need a “lighter” hot chocolate—Non Merci! You would instead sip traditional chocolat chaud, intentionally, slowly and happily—just enough to satisfy without feeling heavy.

I didn’t see “light” versions of chocolat chaud when I lived in France. Certainly not made in a microwave—not a classic French culinary move. So why create a lazy, lighter version? Because sometimes simplicity reigns and this three-ingredient version delivers on flavor and comfort.

In the U.S., hot chocolate may contain milk, water or both with cocoa powder or syrups instead of chocolate. French recipes include milk most often, sometimes cream, but milk paired with a high-quality dark chocolate is rich enough.

Is this even Chocolate?

As a kid, I reveled in making my own hot chocolate. Add a packet of cakey cocoa with chalky, sweet white bits to a cup, stir in hot water and voilà—chocolate for breakfast.

I loved this astronaut-ready freeze-dried instant hot beverage. Especially after meeting an astronaut who I was certain sucked up hot chocolate and marshmallow bits in zero-gravity.

Chocolate chaud Hot Chocolate TheTasteWorkshop.comIn college, I graduated from “milk chocolate-flavor cocoa mix” to Nestle’s chocolate syrup with hot milk. The cocoa mix has 16 ingredients and the syrup has 12, three of which are food colors.

If you grew up enjoying these options, then ignore the ingredient list–just enjoy it as a periodic treat. For me, everything changed when my friend Michel treated me to Chocolat Chaud in Paris at his quiet neighborhood bistro.

Liquid Chocolate

The best part of chocolat chaud that I’ve loved, is at the bottom of the cup. A morsel of soft, not fully melted, chocolate lingers. This “Pièce de Résistance” (proof of real chocolate), leaves you a couple spoonfuls of thick chocolate or sips of thick cocoa tonic to boost your mood.

Unlike the drinkable chocolate bar offered at the famous Angelina’s in Paris, most versions of hot chocolate I enjoy in Paris are neither thick nor super rich. Sometimes, whipped cream decorates the top, but for me, that’s just a pretty distraction diluting the cocoa flavor.  But I get grumpy when cold, so just ignore my whinging and bling up with dairy delights as you wish.

Chocolat Chaud Recipe

Hot milk mixed with dark chocolate pieces plus a hint of sugar to balance the bitter dark chocolate.

Ingredients

3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (about ½ cup—see notes for chocolate and chips)

1 ½ cup skim milk (see milk option notes below)

2 teaspoons powdered sugar (thickens drink & balances bitter notes in chocolate)

Dark chocolate options—3 ounces of:

  • 70% bittersweet chocolate bar (about ½ cup chopped). I like Valhrona (6 ½ squares is about 3 ounces), but pick any high-quality chocolate you like.
  • Dark chocolate chips (about ½ cup) tend to be only 60% dark chocolate, are sweeter, have a lighter chocolate flavor and different nutrient profile.

Steps:

  1. For your your pièce de résistance, pull aside about ⅓ (about 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons) of the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, and divide between two small tea or coffee cups.
  2. In a glass measuring cup (at least 2 cups), add 1 ½ cups milk. Microwave on high for 3 minutes.
  3. To the milk, add the remaining chocolate (about 2 ounces left) and powdered sugar. Whisk or stir with a metal spoon scraping any chocolate that sticks to the sides or bottom. Taste. If the taste is a bit bitter, add more powdered sugar–each teaspoon is only 10 calories. Microwave for 1 more minute, whisk or stir vigorously until frothy. 
  4. Pour in equal amounts into the cups each with the chocolate pieces waiting to be partially melted. No need to stir, unless you want a thicker drink. Find a cozy, quiet place to enjoy or share with kids or other adults and let time stop a moment to create a chocolatey memory.

Chocolate chaud Hot Chocolate TheTasteWorkshop.com

Milk Notes

  • Skim milk texture is thinner than whole milk, but the powdered sugar versus a crystalized sugar acts as a thickener.
  • If you use whole milk, it can bubble over, and possibly erupt in the microwave, so reduce the heat or the time to control this.

Serving & Make-Ahead notes:

  • Serve warm in the smallest coffee or tea cups you have (demitasse cups if you’re into French dishes).
  • If making ahead of serving, put in the refrigerator for a few hours or even overnight. Rewarm and stir before serving. The chocolate pièce de résistance will likely melt though, so you can leave that out, warm the cocoa, then add the extra chocolate to the cup.
  • If you don’t’ have a microwave, go old school and heat milk in a pot, add chocolate and reduce until thicker.

Calorie Notes–Urg. I hesitate to share since this beverage isn’t about watching calories, but it is a rich treat, so here’s some specs:

  • Skim milk calories versus whole milk for this recipe is about 50 more calories per cup.
  • Because this is a rich beverage, use small cups and enjoy slowly. Each serving is about 300 calories—just a bit more a Starbucks 16-ounce version at 400 calories, but it’s a different taste and flavor option.

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Easy homemade Honeycomb for a Flavorful Sweet Treat

Easy homemade Honeycomb for a Flavorful Sweet Treat

Easy homemade Honeycomb for a Flavorful Sweet Treat

Cinder Toffee from Royal Highlands Fair in Scotland

Cinder Toffee from Royal Highlands Fair in Scotland

I ate honeycomb for the first time at the Royal Highlands show in Scotland where it was called cinder toffee. I adopted a Scottish accent after the first bite.

I’d eaten honeycomb-covered chocolate bars in London, but fresh-made honeycomb had heady aromas of caramel, toffee, butter, smoky flavors and a hint of bitter. All of these qualities make it a perfect garnish for flavor-forward desserts.

Honeycomb is also known as hokey pokey (New Zealand and Australia) and tire-éponge (Quebec/France). This recipe was provided by a pastry chef who specializes in flavorful foods. Chef Country Velador of New Wave Market and Super Chunk Sweets & Treats shared her recipe scaled down for home-kitchen use.

Ingredients (Super Chunk Sweets & Treats Recipe)
1 tablespoon baking soda
½ cup water
⅓ cup honey
¼ cup corn syrup
1½ cup sugar

Steps

Honeycomb from Superchunk Sweets and Treats

Superchunk Sweets & Treats Restaurant Quantity

  1. Line baking sheet with a silpat and set aside. Measure out the baking soda and leave next to the sheet pan with a whisk.
  2. In a large saucepan (final mixture will foam up dramatically), combine the water, honey, and corn syrup. Stir to dissolve the honey and corn syrup as much as you can. Add the sugar and carefully stir in, being careful not to get sugar on the sides of the pan. Put on the stove over high heat.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and clip on a candy thermometer. Cook until the candy thermometer reads 305F.
  4. Take the pot next to the silpat and pour in the baking soda and quickly whisk it in. The honeycomb will puff up. Quickly pour it out onto the silpat, pouring all of the candy right in the center of the pan.
  5. Let cool completely before breaking up. Store in an airtight container.

Honeycomb goes a long way as a garnish for cakes or cupcakes icing, paired with chocolate, tucked in a yogurt, fruit parfait or sprinkled on ice cream or roasted bananas. Cook some up and play with it.

Eat within a few days or share with people to increase your popularity immensely. If it sits too long, it begins to absorb moisture from the air quickly and becomes sticky and soft. Don’t store in the fridge for the same reason, and wrap it in plastic wrap after it has completely dried to avoid exposure to moisture.

Honeycomb by Superchunk Sweets and Treats

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Kids in the Kitchen: A little Cooking Competition is Healthy

Kids in the Kitchen: A little Cooking Competition is Healthy

Kids in the Kitchen: A little Cooking Competition is Healthy

Parents rarely get to brag that their children regularly make the family meals using lots of new ingredients. However, TV cooking competitions for kids give the illusion that they often whip up complex meals quicker than their parents can google the recipe.

Some cooking competitions pit kids against each other, give blistering critiques and drop them into professional line cook jobs or catering events. While it may work as entertainment, it doesn’t send a message that cooking can be a relaxing and healthy way to bond with other kids or adults.

Cooking Competitions for Kids-Not Just for TV

Kids can cook and compete in ways that encourage them to try new foods and have fun creating meals. I was reminded of this during a cooking event I organized for 100 kids participating in Fuel Up to Play 60, a healthy eating and fitness program run by the Dairy Council of Arizona. During the one-hour cooking session, they:

  1.  encouraged each other to taste new ingredients with no adult intervention,
  2.  bonded over “foreign foods” that they adventurously tried,
  3.  helped each other with techniques and cooking tools,
  4.  learned cooking skills or shared skills they had, and
  5.  cooperated to name their dish and meet the deadline.

Tips for Simple Competitions

Home-based cooking competitions can have the same benefits and involve as few as 4 kids in teams of two. Here’s some tips to create simple competitions that promote creativity and enjoyment of nutrient-rich foods: 

  1. Remind kids that people have different tasting skills and perceive food tastes, flavors and textures in different ways. Place a ban on “yuck”, “gross” or “disgusting” comments.
  1. Like many adults, kids can’t describe why they like or dislike certain foods. Review the five taste qualities (sour, sweet, bitter, salty and umami) and show which ingredients fit those qualities.
  1. Share that flavor and texture also influence food preferences. Encourage tasting recipe ingredients such as spices, herbs, condiments or vegetables and fruits.
  1. Provide some combination of known ingredients with new ones. This relates to the concept of “flavor pairing” or “associate conditioning” that can reduce food neophobia (fear of new foods).
  1. If they are to make a meal that’s new to them, select ones that feel familiar, like flatbread, or describe it in ways that connects them to other foods they’ve enjoyed.
  1. Select the same meal to cook so kids can compare the finished versions and be exposed to other taste and flavor choices.
  1. Suggest kids take photos of their final creations rather than taking photos during cooking as it’s a distraction and cell phones are a food-safety hazard.

Cooking competitions for kids are entertaining without the stress of elimination or having an apron taken away for failing to meet the TV judge’s standards.

Home-based cooking competitions for kids create supportive peer environments that promote trying new foods, build skills, increase interest in cooking and make for good play dates, birthday events or a way to get your kid to make dinner that night.

Tartines Cheesy Melt Cooking Competitions

August is Kids Eat Right Month: This is a dedicated time to celebrate and promote ways to encourage kids to cook and eat well. Culinary nutrition expert Sara Hass, RDN organizes a month-long effort called “Kids in the Kitchen” to promote different ways that kids can get engaged and interested in cooking.

Find more information at Sara’s website and Kids Eat Right. Post photos of your kids cooking and use the hashtag #kidsinthekitchen to celebrate their efforts and get practical and fun information from culinary nutrition experts who love to get kids in the kitchen having fun.

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Marmalade Macaroons or Rochers à la Noix de Coco

Marmalade Macaroons or Rochers à la Noix de Coco

Marmalade Macaroons or Rochers à la Noix de Coco

Add macaroons to your dessert menu to master a classic French treat with Italian origins that’s surprisingly quick and easy. Macaroons (mac-uh-ruinz) based on coconut, look and sound nothing like the butter-cream filled almond cookies macarons (mac-kaw-rhone except only pronounce half the “n” for that special form of French nasal linguistic torture). To avoid confusion, the French versions are called Rochers à la Noix de Coco (coconut rocks) or simply Rochers Coco to be short and slang.

Marmalade macaroons are not traditional. Typically, macaroons have three-ingredients (sugar, coconut and egg whites) that can be formed into playful shapes, often into a cone or pyramid shape in France. They’re most delicious when the tops and sides or edges have extra crispy browned, nearly burned bits. This marmalade macaroon was inspired by delicious marmalade I experienced while living in France and pleases any crowd with chewy-crunchy textures.

Fast & Easy Marmalade Macaroons

Makes 20

Marmalade Macaroon TheTasteWorkshop.com

 

 

 

Ingredients

5 ½ cups (14 ounce bag) sweetened coconut flakes
½ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt (optional, but helps balance the sweetness)
4 egg whites
4 tablespoons marmalade, minced (If marmalade is very syrupy and thin, use 3 tablespoons)

Steps

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Stir together coconut, sugar and salt in a bowl.
3. Add egg whites and marmalade and mix with a large serving fork or spoon.
4. Scoop two tablespoons onto parchment paper in a mound and continue to make more mounds spaced about 2 inches apart. Fill a small bowl or cup with water, dip your fingers into water and with fingers of both hands, form each mound into a pyramid, wetting fingers as needed.
5. Place on middle rack in over, cook for 16-20 minutes or until firm on the sides and the edges and tops have begun to turn dark brown, nearly a burnt look.
6. After removing from oven, carefully slide onto two baking racks set side by side to fit the baking sheet size.
7. Let cool to eat if you can wait and store in the refrigerator in a covered dish.

Here’s an unscripted Facebook Live Video where I chat about bitter oranges, coconut flake differences & forming the pyramid shapes.

Happy Macaroon Day! The best 15 minute, 3-4 ingredient dessert ever if you like coconut. I'm showing a marmalade version with French influences (the shape) and in France–often called Rochers à la Noix de Coco (coconut rocks) or Roches Coco to be slang and short.

Posted by Michele Redmond on Thursday, May 31, 2018

 

 

 

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Pineapple Ginger Salsa Recipe

Pineapple Ginger Salsa Recipe

Pineapple Ginger Salsa Recipe

Tomato-based salsas offer familiar flavors and textures, but bust out of that comfort zone with a sweet, tangy pineapple ginger salsa for a zippy dip and fun side dish or garnish. Flavorful heat from chile peppers, garlic, scallion and ginger are balanced by the fruity nectar of ripe pineapple and savory fresh tomatoes.

Pineapple ginger salsa recipe

It screams “don’t touch me!” Maui pineapple from my Dole Plantation Tour

Selecting Pineapples

Advice for selecting pineapples at optimal ripeness can be conflicting. I suggest relying mostly on your nose to check if the aroma from its base exudes a sweet, pineapple aroma. If it has hints of vinegar, has an overly soft texture and is bright green or orange rather than yellow, pass on it.

Pineapple’s pointy leaves and spiky scales make it fail the friendly-fruit test of tucking into a pocket or packing with your lunch. This awkward fruit gets weirder when you consider the scales are individual berries that bind to its central core. You can nibble the core’s sweet bits like an ear of corn, but it’s also used in fermented drinks like tapache.

There are some tricks to cutting pineapple, but a heavy sharp knife is your best friend here. Make this dish more festive by turning the pineapple into a bowl or “pineapple boat” to serve the salsa.

 

Pineapple Ginger Salsa

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

2 cups diced fresh pineapple (about ½ a medium-sized pineapple)
6 roma tomatoes diced or chopped (about 4 cups)
2 large scallions, sliced thin, white and green parts (about 2 tablespoons)1-2 green serrano chile peppers, minced fine (about 1½ teaspoon)
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fine grated fresh ginger (about 1-inch nob)
1 small lime, juiced (about 1 tablespoon)
Few pinches of large grain sea salt

Steps

Pineapple ginger salsa recipe1. Trim option #1: Trim off the top and bottom of the pineapple, then slice the outer scales off to reveal the flesh. Cut large sections from off the hard core. Dice or small chop enough pineapple for 2 cups and add to a mixing bowl.
2. Trim option #2: Pineapple bowl: take a sharp knife and cut the pineapple in half from top to bottom. Use a pairing knife to cut around the inside rim, leaving about a half inch boarder and being careful not to cut through the outer skin. Then divide the inside area up by cutting a grid with half inch-sized squares. Use a sturdy large metal spoon to scoop out the flesh. Dice or small chop enough pineapple for 2 cups and add to a mixing bowl.
3. Dice the tomatoes, slice the scallions, mince the peppers (remove seeds), mince garlic, grate ginger and juice the lime. Add all ingredients plus the salt to the bowl and gently toss.
4. Taste. If pineapple is less sweet or more tangy than desired, drizzle on some honey and, or another pinch of salt.

Serving Ideas

  • Grill the pineapple half before cutting up.
  • Serve as a side dish with grilled salmon.
  • Add grilled or poached shrimp to the salsa to make it a salad.

Related Article: Why chile peppers help you burn calories. Salsa! Dance it or Eat it—Both Burn Calories

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

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