Saturday, January 19, 2008

About Cacao and My Homemade Cocoa Recipe

If you have read the studies about Cancer prevention and chocolate what they are talking about is the base of chocolate, cacao. The Cancer prevention is not from eating milk chocolate or from the candy.

Cacao is the source of the chocolate, the chocolate bean which is the base of all things chocolate.

What is great about chocolate is not a commercially processed chocolate bar laden with sugar, added chemicals such as preservatives, or chemicals used to grow the chocolate. To get the best part of what chocolate has to offer we need to try to get closer to the root of the goodness, and to get rid of as much of the bad stuff as possible (the stuff added by man and inserted in the processing process).

Usually medical doctors will tell people to eat chocolate candy that is 70% or more chocolate. In other words they are trying to get you to eat semi-sweet or bittersweet or dark chocolate that has the higher concentration of the cacao. They want you to avoid the milk chocolate which has less cacao. Also some cheap chocolates have less real cacao in them and use artificial flavors for some of the chocolate taste! You can read what Dagoba says about types of chocolate here.

The first order of business is to eat ORGANIC cacao products. It makes no sense to try to prevent Cancer by eating cacao then to intentionally eat chemicals used to grow the cacao. I’m sorry but I don’t see any sense there.

The second order of business is to take it up a notch and eat cacao.

I personally use Dagoba organic cacao.

Some who eat cacao claim it keeps serotonin levels high, thereby keeping a person happy feeling, a natural anti-depressant, you could say. Some say that the cacao acts as an aphrodisiac. They do have natural caffeine in them so you get the caffeine also. I’m not making any direct health claims, for more information about the health benefits of cacao, you can read this and this.

The Story of Dagoba Chocolate is there for your reading pleasure as well.

One form of cacao is cacao nibs. These are partially ground cacao beans. They are little nuggets, basically. To be clear, these are unsweetened and unprocessed. They are just ground up a little bit and called ‘nibs’.

Some eat the nibs directly. I’ve read that eating one ounce a day is recommended.

Alright now I’ll admit that I can’t handle eating the nibs. As you open the bag of cacao nibs the most awesome aroma of chocolate comes out. It is unbelievable. You have never smelled a more concentrated, deep chocolate smell. But then you taste it and, it tastes nothing like chocolate because the sugar is missing. I can’t take the taste of it.

Some people use the cacao nibs in cooking. I have not found recipes that work for me.

I had leftover cacao nibs and tried to make them into powder using my VitaMixer blender and my food processor. It did not work. Do not try it.

Hot Cocoa Recipe using Cacao Powder
So I buy cacao powder and use that. I mainly make a hot chocolate, a cocoa, with it. The recipe is simple. You use the milk of your choice. You heat it up. You add one part sugar or a healthier sweetner alternative to one part cacao powder. The amount will vary. Start with 2 teaspoons cacao and 2 teaspoons sugar to 8 ounces of milk. Then taste it and alter as you see fit. I have found that over time I have acquired a taste for it with more cacao and less sugar.

This will be the best cocoa you’ve ever tasted. Trust me.

Note 1: Those of you who choose to eat a "raw diet" have taken issue with the fact that I heat my  milk. I am not on a raw diet. Also in March 2011 I received an email from Dagoba responding to my inquiry, they say their cacao nibs and powder are not "raw" as they are roasted.

Note 2: I usually only have 1% milk in the house. I have tried this with 2% and even with whole milk (4%). The more fat is in the milk, the better this is, believe me. The cocoa made with whole milk is simply the best tasting!

Downside: The only complaint and issue with using the straight cacao powder is that since no manmade agents have been added to make the cacao suspend itself through the milk and stay there, it tends to settle over time. If you are not going to drink this quickly, keep your spoon and give it a stir if you need to. It also might clump a little and leave little balls of powder on the surface. Just stir this a bit more than usual and enjoy. The taste and quality of this drink is worth the little extra stirring.

Note: If the clumping of the cacao powder bothers you, you can buy Dagoba’s organic hot chocolate powder. It is too pricey for me, with a price today of $8.80 for 8 ounces of hot cocoa powder.

Where to buy Cacao Nibs and Cacao Powder (and more)

I buy our organic cacao powder from Dagoba, directly from Dagoba through the Internet.

Dagoba’s online store

Other Dagoba FAQ including some health questions

Recipes to use Dagoba: to find more recipes to try with cacao nibs, just do a Google search for keywords “cacao nibs recipe”

And if you must read a book about chocolate as well why not try this book? It is on my bookshelf!

I own this cookbook, too.

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Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I agree about the fat content of the milk. I use half-and-half. You don't have to use as much as you would the percent milk to get a good flavor out of it. And of course, when you take out the fat, you are replacing it with carbs, usually in the form of simple sugars. A little fat with the sugars slows down absorption and evens out the response and thus protects against insulin resistance. said...

This was an informative read. I appreciate the time and research you put into explaining cacao in its raw and "processed" forms.

Jan said...

Did you know that Hershey's bought Dagoba back in October of 2006?? I prefer Navitas.

Jill said...

Thanks for your recipe. The navitas website had a hot chocolate recipe that was really a mocha coffee recipe, and I don't drink coffee.

I just tried your recipe with hot water instead of milk, and it's still pretty good!

Beyonceitis said...

Also, when drinking raw organic cacao for health purposes please remember it is best in cold smoothies or sprinkled over food that is not heated since heating cacao or cocoa dramatically reduces much of the nutritional content. I usually mix my cacao into a blended raspberry smoothie with raw organic sprouted milled flaxseed. When it's cold I'll make the hot cacao recipe you mentioned but more just for a sweet treat since the maximized healh benefits can't be achieved once it's heated.

Kendall Scott said...

Thanks for taking the time to post this. Cacao is so good for us! I love making the hot cocoa, but I use agave instead of sugar. Agave is a much lower glycemic sweetener. I use it in place of sugar anywhere I would use sugar - much healthier option! Also, as long as your water is not heated above 118 degrees (F) the cacao will still be raw. Make sure your water isn't anywhere near boiling - heat it slowly - and you will get the benefits of raw cacao. Yum!

Rose said...

Thanks for posting! I made this with organic homemade nut milk and organic wild honey or stevia to sweeten. I waited for the milk to warm a bit (nothing over 118 to preserve enzymes) then whisked in the cacao powder and no problems with clumping or separation while enjoying it. Yum!! Used to use Agave to sweeten, but I've seen more and more research out now showing that its not all its cracked up to be.

pam said...

Are you sure your dagoba cacao powder is raw. Navitas says it's powder is raw, but dagoba never says its raw. And I thought you couldn't heat over 112 degrees.

ChristineMM said...

I am speaking about Dagoba Cacao powder which is ground up raw cacao.

Here I am not speaking about another product that Dagoba sells which is called "drinking chocolate" which has sugar in it and also some chocolate candy in it.

This Dagoba Cacao Powder is raw, nothing in it is cooked.

I am not on a raw diet. One use I do with the cacao powder is make my own hot chocolate by adding hot milk and sugar. The only people concerned with the temperature of the milk should be those on a raw diet. Since I'm not on a raw diet at this time I don't care if my milk goes over 112 degrees. If there is some other reason I should not be putting cacao powder above 112 degrees let me know.


ChristineMM said...

Okay you got me so curious I re-read the Dagoba site, can't find it specifically says it is raw but the nibs are raw and I thought these were just ground up powderized cacao beans and nibs.

I send an email to Dagoba asking for clarification. I'll let you know what they say if/when they reply.

Ashley said...

I was excited to find this recipe because my family and I just recently purchased raw cacao powder from Live Superfoods and we're looking for ways to use it. After reading about it possibly settling I opted to blend mine together in a blender. The cacao, sugar, and milk blended really well and it created a bit of a foam on top which was a bit of an added bonus :)
Again, thanks for the post!

ChristineMM said...

Dagoba emailed me back to say their cacao is not raw.

I will update my post now to reflect that.

Tomi said...

Hi, just putting up our chocolate website, looking for savory cacao recipes myself on google and came across your page. I have lots of info to share at if you're still interested. Our nibs are much yummier than Dagoba. I'll send you a bar of chocolate if you like in the spirit of homeschooling solidarity. Just starting out with my 5 and 2 1/2 yr. old daughters. Aloha.