Troy Warren for CNT #Celebrations
NATIONAL COCOA DAY
December 13th ushers in a celebration worthy of the winter holidays with National Cocoa Day. What better way to warm up after a cold day outside?
We make hot cocoa with cocoa powder, heated milk or water, and sugar. However, Americans often use hot chocolate and hot cocoa interchangeably, sometimes causing a bit of confusion. There is a difference between the two beverages. We make hot chocolate by using ground chocolate containing cocoa butter. We mix it with hot milk, and it is drinking chocolate.
We make hot cocoa from cocoa powder. We produce a paste called chocolate liquor through the fermentation, drying, roasting, and grinding process of cocoa beans. Through another method, they separate cocoa butter, leaving cocoa powder. We use this cocoa powder to make hot cocoa. The result has very little fat and calories.
The Mayans are credited with creating the first chocolate beverage around 2000 years ago. Culturally, cocoa became an essential part of the Aztec civilization by 1400 AD. After the drink found its way from Mexico through the New World, Europeans popularized the chocolate drink. However, it has undergone multiple changes since then. Until the 19th century, drinkers used hot chocolate medicinally to treat ailments such as stomach diseases.
In the United States, an instant form of the drink is popular. Mixed with hot water or milk, the packet contains mostly cocoa powder, sugar, and dry milk. We also like to add marshmallows or whipped cream. It makes the chocolatey drink creamier and sweeter. What better way to celebrate National Cocoa Day?
The health benefits of drinking hot cocoa abound. Cocoa contains significant amounts of antioxidants that may help prevent cancer. They have also shown that the cocoa bean helps with digestion. The flavonoids found in cocoa also have a positive effect on arterial health.
Chocolate lovers enjoy both drinking cocoa and hot cocoa in a variety of combinations. Some top the hot drink with whipped cream or marshmallows. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon or peppermint to make the chocolate extra special. For an added caffeinated boost, some hot cocoa drinkers add a little bit of instant coffee. The coffee and chocolate flavors combine for a delicious mocha marriage.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalCocoaDay
Host a cocoa bar after a day outdoors in the snow. A cup of hot cocoa after sledding or building a snowman warms us right up. When we gather around the table and sip our steaming cup, let the conversation begin.
Try some of these delicious toppings:
- Whipped cream
- Cinnamon and sugar
- candy canes
- toffee bits
- Peppermint Patties
- butterscotch candies, crushed
- candy sprinkles
- cinnamon cereal
- mini chocolate chips
- chopped nuts
Ambitious hot cocoa fans are making hot cocoa bombs to give to friends and family. They fill these chocolate spheres with cocoa, marshmallows, and many of the ingredients listed above for a delightful hot cocoa treat. What’s your favorite way to enjoy hot cocoa? Share your celebration using #NationalCocoaDay to post on social media.
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